Lobby Week 2022: The Issues
Lobby Week 2022: The Issues

The Canadian Federation of Students is Canada’s largest student organization, uniting over half a million undergraduate and graduate students from coast to coast to coast, for more than 40 years. Our ultimate goal is to achieve tuition-free post-secondary education in Canada for domestic and international students.

As COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, intermittent policies across the country have caused a deepening of these key student issues:

  • In 2021/2022, Canadian domestic undergraduate students will pay on average 1.7% more than the previous academic year, while undergraduate international students will pay 4.9% more. Tuition fees are expected to continue to increase by $589 per domestic undergraduate student and $9,086 per undergraduate international student in the next five years.
  • Students are being priced out of life due to higher inflation, stagnant wages and diminished public funding. Since 1980, average undergraduate tuition fees have increased by 926% and average graduate tuition fees have increased by 1244%, meanwhile, overall consumer prices have increased by 311%.
  • The student debt crisis continues to impact the social mobility of Canada’s future workforce. In July 2020, the amount of student loans owed to the government surpassed $22.3 billion—not including provincial and personal loans, lines of credit, and education-related credit card debt.
  • There is an ongoing crisis at Canadian universities and colleges—rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide among students have increased over the past decade. Mental Health Research Canada found that post-secondary students’ access to mental health support has increased from 6% to 24% since the start of Covid-19. The pandemic has increased the rate of depression and high levels of anxiety among 18-34-year-olds to 26% and 34% respectively.
  • The cost of rent continues to rise, forcing students into overcrowded, unsafe, or not-up-to-code rentals. Furthermore, pandemic regulations have led to a rise in income precarity, leaving many students unsure if they’ll be able to make rent each month.

Student debt, along with financial instability has an impact on the Canadian economy as a whole. Debt cancellation would stimulate the economy, increase spending and disposable income, and increase GDP and labour mobility. Furthermore, as students take on more debt, they delay other large investments, such as having a family, buying a house, or saving for their future.

The Canadian government has an opportunity to invest in the workers and families of tomorrow by making significant investments in students today.

We need your help.

Our Government must develop a national vision for Canada’s Post-Secondary Education System by creating a post-secondary education committee composed of federal elected officials, the provinces, and non-partisan experts that will develop a shared vision for a renewed post-secondary education system across Canada.

This national vision should prioritize 4 immediate aspects:

1. Eliminate financial barriers:

Tuition is the largest barrier to accessing PSE in Canada. We are calling on the continuation of the doubling of the Students Grants Program, past its expected end date of 2023.

The continuation of COVID aid: Reintroduce the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) or an equivalent benefit for all students enrolled at post-secondary institutions and recent graduates until March 31, 2023. This would also include a moratorium on the repayment of student loans until March 31, 2023.

2. Fairness for International students:

Streamline and simplify the path to citizenship by expanding permanent residence status and protections to all international students.

Legislate protections under the Health Canada Act to ensure all international students studying at Canadian post-secondary institutions are eligible to receive immediate health insurance upon arrival in Canada.

3. Indigenous learners Right to Education:

Along with the 2021 Budget’s support of Indigenous post-secondary institutions and commitment to UNDRIP, the Federation is calling on the government to allocate more funding towards programs and institutions that teach and preserve Indigenous languages, culture, and history to Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners at post-secondary institutions across Canada.

4. Increased Mental Health Support:

Allocate funding directly to subsidizing the upfront costs of regular mental health services for post-secondary students, such as one-on-one counselling or therapy through community-based and culturally relevant service providers.

Together, we can achieve more. Students are stronger together. Students together.