CASA’s Advocacy Week took place from November 27th to December 1st, and was hosted at the Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa’s downtown core. During this week, delegates received in-depth training on how to lobby and on the research behind each of the policies we’d be recommending to the federal government in meetings. Once prepared, delegates attended meetings with Ministers, Members of Parliament, Senators, and sector stakeholders to advocate for improvements to Canada’s post-secondary system.
Five key things from the conference
1. Delegates met with 150 Ministers, MPs, Senators, and post-secondary stakeholders
Student leaders from our member associations and a few keen observers each met with numerous decision-makers in the federal government. Altogether, students met with 150 Ministers, MPs, Senators, and post-secondary stakeholders throughout the week, and presented the arguments and policy recommendations found in CASA’s publication Building Access, Building Canada. Notably, students met with the Office of the Leader of the Opposition (Andrew Scheer), as well as ten Ministers:
- Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
- Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board
- Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue
- Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
- Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie
- Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
- Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport
- Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
- Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
- Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
2. Event was jointly hosted by CASA and QSU for the first time
This year, for the first time ever, CASA hosted Advocacy Week jointly with the Quebec Student Union! This collaboration allowed delegates to meet with plenty of French-speaking MPs, many of them from Quebec. At the same time, it gave students from Quebec the chance to relay the issues they deal with directly to members of the federal government.
3. CASA held a reception on Parliament Hill
CASA held a successful reception on Parliament Hill in the evening of November 28th, where many politicians stopped by to chat with student leaders in a more casual setting. During the reception, Ms. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, presented her own personal experience with post-secondary education, explaining that it enriched her life and opened up employment opportunities that weren’t there before.
4. Membership passed two new policies
During the membership’s general meeting, two new CASA policies were passed:
- Excluding post-secondary institution staff from Article 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, so that they can provide important advice to international students
- Implementing a substance use policy framework to address substance use and reduce harm on campuses
5. Membership approved a new policy paper on international students
During CASA’s general meeting, members voted to approve a new policy paper on international students. This paper is set to be published in mid-2018.