It's been a busy year at CASA! From a Federal Election to a campaign on student mental health, there's a lot to reflect on and be proud of. Here are some of our favourite moments from the past year, in classic Top Ten style!
10. Appeared Before the Government and Senate of Canada’s Finance Committees
CASA’s Chair, Adam Brown, appeared before both of Parliament’s standing committees on Finance to provide a student perspective on the investments from budget 2019. This provided CASA with an opportunity to further detail how investments in post-secondary student mental health, grant expansion, and research lead to a better post-secondary experience for all.
9. Released an Educational Materials Policy Paper
In January 2019, CASA released a policy paper on educational materials in post-secondary. The paper outlined struggles that students face in accessing or acquiring the materials they need to foster their academic success, and provided suggestions for what the Government of Canada can do to help. Guided by the vision of an accessible, affordable, innovative and high quality post-secondary system, the suggestions ranged from protecting fair dealing under the Copyright Act, to setting aside funds for the development of Open Educational Resources.
8. Stood with Students in Ontario Regarding the Student Choice Initiative
Upon the announcement of the Student Choice Initiative in Ontario, CASA stood with students affected by the threat to student autonomy, and opposed the action taken that resulted in the reduction or elimination of student services, campus life, and advocacy efforts in the province. CASA will continue to stand with students throughout the government of Ontario’s appeal process of the Divisional Court’s ruling.
7. Celebrated Investments from Budget 2019
Building on over 20 years of advocating to the federal government, CASA’s members celebrated substantial investments for post-secondary students in the 2019 budget. Included among the wins were a $630 million investment over five years to create 84,000 work integrated learning opportunities, more than doubling the grant that helps students with disabilities pay for specialized equipment they need, and an investment of over $800 million over the next 10 years for Indigenous access to post-secondary education. CASA also celebrated the introduction of an interest-free grace period for student loan borrowers, which had been a consistent ask to the government over the years.
6. Sexual Violence on Campus Report
Over the course of 2018-2019, CASA participated in Women and Gender Equality Canada’s Advisory Council on sexual violence prevention on campus. In late August, the report Planting Change: Developing a National Framework to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions, was launched. A key component of the Government of Canada’s five-year, $5.5 million commitment to develop a framework to address and prevent gender-based violence at post-secondary institutions, the report identifies recommendations, promising practices, and gaps in preventing and addressing gender-based violence on post-secondary campuses.
5. #StudentsLetsAct Campaign
In January, students across the country underlined the urgent need for action by the Federal Government on student mental health. By asking students why their mental health is important to them, and showcasing their answers in high traffic areas on campus, CASA garnered thousands of responses that helped paint the picture for the state of mental health on post-secondary campuses in Canada. CASA Home Office collected the responses written on broken hearts, and presented them to the former Minister of Health, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, with options on how to improve supports for students.
4. Gained a New Member - UCGSA
At the 2019 Foundations conference, the membership ratified a new member: The University of Calgary Graduate Students’ Association.
3. Inaugural Indigenous Student Gathering
In October, CASA came together with Indigenous student leaders from across the country to develop more inclusive ways of advocating for and with Indigenous students in post-secondary. Students shared their journeys, provided insight on the barriers to a truly inclusive post-secondary system, and encouraged CASA to change practices and structures that hinder the participation of Indigenous students within the organization. The Inaugural gathering served as a strong first step to working alongside Indigenous students to redefine what it means to fight for an accessible, affordable, innovative and high quality post-secondary.
2. Pre-Election Study with Abacus Data
In order to dispel the notion that students are apathetic when it comes to participating in elections, CASA commissioned a study with Abacus Data that highlighted the issues that would bring students to the polls. The report detailed that 93% of post-secondary students planned on voting in the federal election, and highlighted that politicians would be wise to listen to student concerns throughout their political careers, given that the Millennial and Gen Z generations were expected to be the largest voting bloc in Canada.
1. National Get Out The Vote Campaign
36 student associations across the country participated in CASA’s non-partisan, voter mobilization, Get Out the Vote Campaign. Students facilitated voter information events, hosted all-candidates debates, organized walking parties to the polls on both advanced polling days and election day, which gathered over 35,000 pledges to vote from student unions across the country! CASA actively informed students about and encouraged them to vote at one of the 119 polling stations, which led to over 110,000 votes cast between October 5-9th.