FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA, March 22, 2017 – The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) commends the government’s continued support for making post-secondary education accessible to all Canadians. Budget 2017 introduces significant new funding for mature students, students with dependents and Indigenous learners. These targeted investments promise to help more Canadians take advantage of the lifelong benefits of a post-secondary education.
“Students are especially pleased to see the government fulfill its promise to increase funding to support First Nations and Inuit students through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP),” said Michael McDonald, Executive Director of CASA. “This investment, alongside the initiatives aimed at making it easier for mature learners to return to school, will enhance the accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada.”
CASA, along with First Nations organizations and stakeholders in the post-secondary sector, has long advocated for expanding funding to the PSSSP. This program provides funding to First Nations and Inuit communities, who in turn provide funding to eligible students. Since 1996 the program has not grown with demand, leaving many bright and qualified First Nations and Inuit learners unable to receive funding or attend post-secondary. CASA sees the $90 million as a significant step towards fulfilling the federal government’s responsibility to support all eligible First Nations and Inuit students.
CASA is also pleased to see serious attention turned towards the difficulties of mature and non-traditional learners. These groups, including part-time students, students who support families and adults returning to school, encounter unique challenges when attending post-secondary. With Budget 2017, the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) expands eligibility for part-time students and students with dependents. This will help to alleviate the financial burden of post-secondary and allow more Canadians to focus on upgrading their skills while supporting their families. The federal government will also be introducing a pilot project to explore the best ways to eliminate the unique barriers that adults who choose to return to school later in life often encounter. CASA believes these are particularly promising reforms that will help ensure all Canadians can gain access to advanced education at any stage of their life.
Youth employment is a primary concern for students across the country, as many experience difficulty securing summer employment or employment after graduation. CASA is pleased that the budget has allocated more funding to the Youth Employment Strategy, to help youth get a strong start in their careers. Additionally, the Canada Labour Code will be modernized to eliminate unpaid internships in federally regulated sectors.
“We are happy to see the federal government take a strong stand towards ensuring that all work is compensated,” says McDonald. “As we stressed to government officials during our Advocacy Week this fall, unpaid work places unneeded financial strain on students and can often be exploitative in nature.”
Other pertinent highlights of Budget 2017 include:
- The creation of a National Strategy on Gender-Based Violence;
- The launch of a pilot project to explore how to increase access to the Canada Learning Bond for low-income families;
- The promotion of early access to post-secondary by supporting the charitable organization Pathways to Education Canada; and
- The increase in work-integrated learning placements through Mitacs.
Established in 1995, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, national student organization composed of 21 student associations representing 250,000 post-secondary students from coast to coast. CASA advocates for a Canadian post-secondary education system that is accessible, affordable, innovative, and of the highest quality.
Lindsay Boyd, Communications and Public Relations Officer
Phone: 613-236-3457 ext. 224