2020 has brought it’s fair bit of challenges for Canadian post-secondary students. The pandemic forced students to quickly move to digital learning and make a lot of difficult changes in their life. Well, while you were busy being the best students you could be, CASA was busy representing student interests to the federal government. Here are the top ten things CASA has done!
1. We advocated hard for a student centered COVID package and got a $9 billion package for Canadian post-secondary students.
Students across Canada were glad to see student specific support during COVID-19. This package included the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), a doubling of the Canada Student Grant for the 2020-21 academic year, investment in the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, Metis Education Strategy, and Inuit Education Strategy, funding to the Canada Granting Agency for student researchers.
2. Conducted a national survey of post secondary students across Canada in May 2020.
We partnered with Abacus Data to collect data on what post-secondary students' concerns were. You can read that report here.
3. Student delegates participated in over 250 advocacy meetings this year!
In 2020, combining our in-person advocacy meetings in February and our most recent month of digital advocacy, student leaders from coast got together to advocate to Members of Parliament, Senators and federal decision makers!
4. We hosted our 4 major conferences this year; 1 prior to COVID-19 and 3 all digitally!
We hosted SuperCon, a conference that only ever happens during a federal election year where we combine Annual General Meeting and Advocacy Week all on one. We also hosted our Foundations Conference in May, our Policy and Strategy Conference in July, our Digital Advocacy Month in November, and a few e-Plenaries in there!
5. We presented to both the House of Commons and Senate Committees.
On Friday, April 24, 2020, CASA presented to the House of Commons Finance Committee on the government's recently announced COVID-19 student support package.
On Tuesday, June 9, 2020, CASA presented to the Senate National Finance Committee on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences.
On Friday, June 12, 2020, CASA presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
6. Made some major governance changes at our March Plenary.
CASA membership approved a new Board Position for Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) and an EDI Committee (EDIC) and the National Indigenous Advisory Committee (NIAC).
The EDIC was first struck in July 2018 and was formalized in 2020 with the purpose of ensuring that CASA takes an intersectional approach to understanding student issues and that its policy development and advocacy efforts are reflective of diverse student experiences.
NIAC was created after several years discussing with Indigenous students from across Canada and now serves as a national forum for Indigenous students and a direct form of contact between Indigenous students, the Membership and the Board of Directors on matters of importance to the organization.
You can read more here.
7. Welcomed a new Member Association!
On February 17th, 2020, during CASA’s annual Advocacy Week and Annual General Meeting, Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) was unanimously approved as the newest member of the organization: https://www.casa-acae.com/ksa_joins_partnership_renewed. Approximately 20,000 students across the five campuses of Kwantlen Polytechnic University will now have their concerns represented alongside 370,000 other post-secondary students to the federal government.
8. Put forward our Pre-Budget Submission!
Each year we put forward a submission to inform budget makers what Canadian post-secondary students needs. During this pandemic, students are in a uniquely vulnerable point, they've been blindsided by lost income, online classes, a summer of isolation, and bleak job prospects following graduation. We submitted four recommendations you can read here.
9. The Launch of a Student Mental Health Standard!
Mental health has always been a major concern for students and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this need exponentially. After years of work on the Mental Health Commission of Canada Executive Advisory Committee, we were excited that the National Standard Of Canada For Mental Health And Well-being For Post-secondary Students (the Student Standard) was launched this year.
10. Celebrated our 25th birthday!
We turned 25 years old in 2020! We ran a whole month of celebrations and are so proud of our history and continue to be excited for our future! Check out a history of the student movement here.