February 14, 2024

Advocacy Updates: GSA’s Budget Submission and White Paper Release

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As the voice of graduate students at the University of Calgary, the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) is committed to advocating for the needs and interests of its members. Recently, the GSA made significant strides in advancing its advocacy agenda through the submission of a budget proposal to the provincial government and the release of a white paper addressing student housing issues. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the details of these two important documents and what they mean for graduate students.

Budget Submission:

The pre-budget period offers an opportunity for Albertans to provide input on government spending priorities. Advocacy organizations, like the GSA, use this time to submit proposals outlining their desired allocations. The budget submission focuses on five key themes, each with specific recommendations aimed at enhancing the educational experience and well-being of graduate students.

  • Take Back Campus Alberta Grant—Restore Funding to Post-Secondary Education:

The budget cuts to post-secondary institutions (PSIs) have significantly impacted graduate students. We highlighted the detrimental impact of these cuts particularly on UCalgary graduate students and call for their reversal to ensure financial stability and accessibility.

  • Support Alberta Innovation and Entrepreneurship:

Graduate students play a crucial role in driving innovation, yet funding for their research remains stagnant.

The GSA calls for the creation of additional funding streams to support graduate student research and the restoration of the Alberta Graduate Student Travel Incentive program.

  • Reimagine Student Financial Aid:

Alberta’s student financial aid system prioritizes loans over grants, exacerbating student debt and financial strain.

The GSA’s recommendations include eliminating interest on provincial student loans and increasing funding for non-repayable student financial aid to address cuts from previous years.

  • Don’t Blame the Weather on the Weatherman: Cut Red Tape on Post-Secondary Funding:

Performance-based metrics for university funding lack clear effectiveness and unfairly penalize institutions for factors beyond their control.

The GSA urges the government to end the practice of tying university funding to performance-based metrics, recognizing the limitations and uncertainties associated with this approach.

  • Implement a Province-Wide Evictions Moratorium:

Amidst the housing crisis, the GSA calls for a temporary halt on evictions to protect vulnerable tenants until sustainable solutions are found.

White Paper:

With the ongoing housing crisis, especially for students, the GSA recognizes the need for innovative policy solutions to address student housing challenges. Our white paper addresses this pressing issue.

Inspired by Quebec’s “soft rent cap” model, the white paper explores alternative approaches to rent control.

 The proposed model offers flexibility through adjudication by the Tribune administrative du logement (TAL), aiming to balance tenant protection with incentives for property maintenance and construction.

By balancing tenant protection with incentives for property maintenance and construction, this model has led to lower rents in Quebec.

The GSA proposes a pilot program modeled on Quebec’s approach, leveraging the University of Calgary as a testing ground.

Additionally, the GSA advocates for improved data collection on student housing needs and the establishment of a provincial Student Community of Discussion on housing issues.

In conclusion, the GSA’s budget submission and white paper represent significant efforts to address key issues facing graduate students, including education funding, research support, and housing affordability. By advocating for these priorities, the GSA continues to champion the interests of graduate students at the University of Calgary and beyond. Stay tuned for updates on the progress of these advocacy initiatives!

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