June 2020 Advocacy Updates

As your graduate student representatives, the GSA Board of Directors and the Research and Advocacy Analyst worked on many advocacy priorities to the best interest of UCalgary graduate students. Have a look below at the GSA’s advocacy work for May 2020. If you have any questions or concerns, please email askgsa@ucalgary.ca.

July 3, 2020

At the Federal Level:

  • What we advocated on: Increased support for students and age limit concerns for Canada Summer Jobs Program and the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG).
    • The progress/response: Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) portal opened. Students can now apply to receive up to $5,000 for volunteering in areas related to COVID-19. Age limit concerns haven’t been addressed.
  • What we advocated on: Clarification on whether accessing the CERB and CESB has an adverse impact on students’ eligibility for Tri-Council funding.
    • The progress/response: Ongoing.
  • Other updates/Priorities: Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (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 COVID-19. View the full presentation here. Specific asks include:
    • Extension of the 6-month interest-free moratorium on federal student loan payments past September 30, 2020;
    • Immediate steps to ensure that all post-secondary students have adequate access to reliable and high-speed internet; 
    • Commit additional funding to provide appropriate digital technology to any low-income student who needs it.

At the Provincial Level:

  • What we advocated on: The removal of expenditure caps to limit institutional operating budgets.
    • The progress/response: STUDENTS’ WIN! The Alberta Government agreed to eliminate expenditure targets. Eliminating expenditure caps is good news as it will post-secondary institutions time to recover from COVID-19’s impacts without a threat to further budget cuts.
  • What we advocated on: Student leaders to be meaningfully consulted as part of the Alberta 2030 (a review of Alberta’s post-secondary sector) in collaboration with other graduate student associations through ab-GPAC
    • The progress/response: Alberta 2030 consultation will likely happen with provincial advocacy student groups. (i.e.: ab-GPAC for graduate students). Our GSA is actively involved in ab-GPAC’s preparation to meaningfully engage in this process.

At the Municipal Level (City of Calgary):

  • What we advocated on: Alternatives to UPass either through flexibility to the low-income transit pass for students through The City of Calgary’s Fair Entry Program or other alternatives to ensure students who will have to commute to campus in Fall 2020 can do so at a reasonable cost. Some meetings with City Councillors and senior City of Calgary Bureaucrats were arranged. This is a joint effort with the UCalgary, Students’ Union (SU), and other Calgary Student Associations.
    • The progress/updates: The GSA is in in continued conversation with UCalgary about feasible alternatives to the UPASS for Fall 2020.

At the University Level:

  • What we advocated on: UCalgary’s Fall 2020 plans incorporated the graduate students’ perspective.
    • The progress/updates: The GSA President now serves on UCalgary’s Academic Crisis Management Team (ACMT). The GSA has been gathering and sharing students’ feedback gathered from Fall 2020 Survey with Senior UCalgary Administrators to inform Fall 2020 plans. The priorities shared in survey are used to create questions that fed into the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ Fall 2020 FAQ. This FAQ will be shared when it’s complete.
  • What we advocated on: Increased support for students to ensure their success in Fall 2020 term (i.e.: UPass alternatives, safety protocols in graduate residences, accessibility of campus resources, clear communications of fees/protocols/expectations for Fall 2020, etc.)
    • The progress/updates: The GSA Board of Directors continue to work through the numerous committees they sit on to advocate for increased support for graduate students.