February and March 2022 Advocacy Update

The GSA is gearing up to end the winter term on a high note. Our focus in February centered around understanding graduate students’ perspectives of the Covid-19 restrictions lifting and informing the University’s restrictions lifting plan. We also continued our government advocacy by participating in CASA’s Federal Advocacy Week. The month of March was focused on advocating provincially in relationship to Alberta’s Budget 2022 and understanding its’ implication for UCalgary, and our graduate students. We also had engagements with Calgary City Councillors to dive-in on graduate students’ municipal priorities. 

Read more about our advocacy efforts below. 

Institutional (UCalgary)Covid-19 Restrictions Lifting: after consulting with graduate students, the GSA put out a press release to address UCalgary’s lifting of Covid-19 restrictions considering the Government of Alberta’s decision to lift restrictions, and request for institutions to follow a similar timeline. 
Return to in-person classes: the GSA President was consulted/informed on UCalgary’s safety protocols and was pleased with UCalgary Senior Administration’s decision to maintain mask mandates on campus until the end of the winter term. 
Budget 2022 Institutional Impacts: at the GSA’s request, there will be an additional April meeting to help student leaders understand the impact of the provincial budget on the quality of education and the student experience. 
Federal Federal Advocacy Week: the GSA Advocacy team attended the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations’ (CASA) annual advocacy week. We had the opportunity to discuss post-secondary student priorities across Canada to MPs, Senators, political staffers and the Tri-Council Agencies. Read the advocacy document here
Federal Advocacy Wins: The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance has presented their 2022 Budget recommendations to Parliament. We are pleased to see that CASA secured 4 out of its 5 priorities, which made it in the Finance Committee’s Budget Recommendations: 
-Maintain Canada Student Grant funding levels, ensuring grant maximums stay at $6,000/year 
-Extend the Canada Student Grant to graduate students 
-Invest an additional $120 million/year into Tri-Council Agency student scholarships 
-Commit to establish multi-year funding for community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation 
ProvincialMinister/MLA outreach: had a great meeting with Minister Nicolaides in March to discuss our concerns with Budget 2022. Some of the graduate students’ priorities that were discussed are: 
-The funding allocation for targeted system-wide investments, and what this meant for graduate students 
-Need for additional bursary monies to be structured without limits to age requirements to ensure graduate students can access these funds 
-The desire for increased/tabled consultation with graduate students through the GSA, and through our provincial advocacy partner ab-GPAC 

Key Upcoming Government of Alberta updates: 
-April 9: UCP Virtual Leadership vote 
-April 4-14, May 16-19: Constituency weeks 
-May 18: Results of UCP Leadership Review Announced 
-June 9: Last day of Legislature sitting 
MunicipalCity Councillors outreach: wrapped up City Councillors’ outreach with a meeting with Ward 7 Councillor Terry Wong and Ward 8 Councillor Courtney Walcott. Some of the graduate students’ priorities that were discussed are: 
-Accessible, affordable and sustainable public transit for Calgary’s post-secondary students 
-Safety on public transit 
-Public safety in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic 
-Affordable housing and the opportunity to prioritize students in the downtown revitalization strategy 

Calgary Student Alliance (CSA) Public Transit Policy brief: drafted policy brief on the GSA’s perspective on a sustainable public transit and the needs of UCalgary’s graduate students in this space. This will inform CSA’s policy brief on the need to modernize public transit to better meet the needs of Calgary’s post-secondary students. The brief will be reviewed by select City Councillors and presented to relevant City of Calgary Committees who are looking at improving the sustainability of Calgary’s public transit system.