The Speech from the Throne is today. The speech opens every new Parliamentary session and provides an overview of the government’s goals and outlines how the government will work to achieve them. This year is much different than years prior because we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Throne Speech represents a historical turning point where fundamental shifts in societal and economic equality become more realistic. This year’s speech is expected to focus on preventing coronavirus spikes in order to prevent another lockdown and a number of social programs and measures to help Canadians deal with the effects of the virus. In addition to coronavirus prevention, there is said to be a focus on spending on childcare and housing investments as well.
In order to support Canadians during the pandemic, the government announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Unfortunately, students were not included in the initial program and were not adequately supported by the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). “Throughout the pandemic, the federal government has repeatedly neglected and/or failed to adequately support the financial needs of students. International students were explicitly excluded from support plans, and 2019 recent graduates did not get to access the full benefits available to domestic students. Students are in desperate need of adequate and responsive financial support” said Nicole Brayiannis, National Deputy Chairperson. “International students have been hit the hardest by being left out of financial benefits which is unacceptable. We need bold leadership that will have the courage to champion sustainable solutions to get out of this crisis and that begins with fully funding free education for all” added Sofia Descalzi, National Chairperson.
The Trudeau government needs to stop and listen to what students are asking for, and immediately reallocate the $900 million dollars from the failed Canadian Student Service Grant into extending the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit. Students are demanding that the CESB be increased to $2000 per month, be extended until at least December, and expand the eligibility criteria to include international students and recent graduates. We hope that the next parliamentary session will let students, both international and domestic know that they are a priority of the government.
Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic needs to include free and universal post-secondary education for all. Education for all means an immediate reduction in tuition fees for all students in Canada. In order to have a just-recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we need the government to prioritize a move towards a fully publicly-funded and high-quality post-secondary education system. In unprecedented times, shifts like fully funded post-secondary education are possible. We just need the government to ensure that students are a priority because when everyone in our society is educated we stand a better chance at rebuilding the economy.