OTTAWA, June 2, 2017 – The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is pleased to see the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities publish a study which underlines that affordable post-secondary education and school-to-work strategies are key to reducing poverty in Canada. The study, Breaking the Cycle: A Study on Poverty Reduction, was written following a consultation process in which CASA participated this past March.
“We were pleased to see the investments made in both Budget 2016 and 2017 towards making post-secondary education more affordable for students,” said CASA Board Chair and Students’ Association of Mount Royal University President, Shifrah Gadamsetti. “That being said, there are too many people for whom post-secondary is still out of reach for financial reasons, and others who are struggling to find gainful employment post-graduation.”
The report notes that Indigenous youth continue to grapple with barriers to post-secondary education. Although the investment of $90 million into the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) in Budget 2017 is a positive step, it is only a start considering the large number of eligible Indigenous students unable to access post-secondary due to the previous funding cap. CASA is therefore pleased to see that the committee’s report includes a recommendation to explore options to increase access to the PSSSP and other federal initiatives that will help Indigenous students pursue post-secondary education.
Another highlight of the report was the call for Employment and Social Development Canada to develop a “national school-to-work strategy”, aimed at facilitating the transition from formal study to meaningful, secure employment.
“Students and recent graduates have continued to identify a number of challenges accessing gainful employment after their studies,” continues Ms. Gadamsetti. “Graduates from Canada’s colleges, polytechnics and universities continue to perform well once fully employed – the challenge is getting them into positions that reflect their education and passion. “
Other concerns highlighted in the study include access to the Canada Learning Bond, which provides financial assistance to low-income families, but can only be accessed by opening a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Many low-income families don’t know they are eligible for the program or don’t think they qualify for assistance. CASA is pleased to see the committee acknowledge this issue and recommend exploring ways to make the bond more accessible to low-income families.
Established in 1995, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, student organization composed of 21 student associations representing 250,000 post-secondary students from coast to coast. Through its partnership with the Quebec Students Union (QSU) and its 8 members representing 77,000 students, CASA presents a national student voice to the federal government. 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