May 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.

May 27, 2020

At the Federal Level:

  • What we advocated on: Increase the age limit for the Canada Summer Job Program to ensure graduate students are eligible.
    • The progress/response: Age limit concerns for Canada Summer Jobs Program raised federally and provincially through Ministers directly and through CASA.
  • What we advocated on: Additional COVID-19 support to international students by providing income support through the CESB and access to work opportunities, and ensuring international students with a valid study permit can travel to Canada for enrolment in Fall 2020.
    • The progress: We are still advocating for additional support for international students. Eligible international students can apply for EI and CERB during this time.
  • Other updates/priorities:
    • CESB application opened on May 15. We are monitoring any issues raised by students.
    • Post-Graduation Work Permit Update: International students unable to travel to Canada in September may begin their classes while outside the country and can complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada sooner. International students will also not have time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit for studies completed outside of Canada, up to December 31, 2020.
    • Working on obtaining further clarity on Tri-Council funding extensions process
    • New GSA Executives are transitioning and have started working on our federal priorities through CASA.

At the Provincial Level:

  • What we advocated on: Direct income and employment support to students to close gaps left by the federal government’s COVID-19 support Program
    • The response: Following direct advocacy to Minister of Advanced Education and Minister of Labour and Immigration, as well as advocacy through ab-GPAC, the provincial government has articulated that the majority of students’ support is what is coming federally. The province’s focus is on helping businesses so they could hopefully hire more youth/students.
  • What we advocated on: A deferral of the Budget 2020 priorities for the Post-Secondary Sector to 2021, including the implementation of Outcomes-Based Funding.
    • The response: The implementation of Outcomes-Based Funding has been delayed to at least after June 30, 2020. The Minister of Advanced Education is now considering tying funding to 1 metric in 2020. The GSA is working to ensure there is a level of consultation with students at the Board of Governors level.
  • What we are doing: Providing the Graduate Students’ Association input into the Alberta Relaunch Strategy 

At the Municipal Level (City of Calgary):

  • What we are advocating on: Alternatives to the 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.
    • The progress:
      • This is a joint advocacy effort with UCalgary and SU. The City of Calgary has committed to looking at the income eligibility threshold for the Fair Entry Program, which could make it more accessibility for students.
      • The GSA is in conversation with UCalgary about potential alternatives to the UPASS for Fall 2020.

At the University Level:

  • What we are advocating on: Ensure that Fall 2020 plans incorporate the graduate students’ perspective
    • The progress: To ensure that Fall 2020 plans incorporate the graduate students’ perspective – our GSA President now has a seat on UCalgary’s Academic Crisis Management Team (ACMT). The GSA has been gathering students’ feedback and will continue to do so to inform this internal advocacy.
  • What we are advocating on: Increased support for students to ensure their success in Fall 2020 term (i.e.: needs-based financial support, accessibility of campus resources etc.)
    • The progress: The GSA Board of Directors will work through the numerous committees they sit on to advocate for increased support.