The AMS, alongside six other student unions from across the province and the country were in Ottawa last week (March 21-24) to advocate on behalf of students to the Federal Government. ADVOCAN, is a group of student leaders who came together to represent some of Canada’s largest, research intensive universities. Together, the group represents over 240,000 students across the country. But what exactly were they advocating on? Scroll down to get a more in depth look at the policy brief these student leaders brought to Ottawa!

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The AMS President, Kanivanan, and Vice President (University Affairs), Sarah, walked up the steps of Parliament to advocate on behalf of our student body on the following Federal issues.

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Canada Student Loan Program (CSLP)

Background: The Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) reduces financial barriers and enables Canadian students to gain knowledge, skills, and qualifications required for successful participation in the economy and society.

Currently, the CSLP doesn’t reflect the realistic cost of living and cost of university tuition. As well,  the loan limit hasn’t increased since 2004. In order to keep pace with the current financial barriers students are facing these problems need to be resolved.

Recommendations from ADVOCAN:

  • Increase the CSLP borrowing limit to $15,500.
  • Increase the CSLP borrowing limit by inflation annually.
  • Adjust the repayment threshold for CSLP loans.
  • Expand access to CSLP for part-time students.
  • Expand access to grants as part of CSLP by allowing more students to apply as well as extending this grant amount.

SO more grants and loan opportunities for students meaning more students will be able to get a post-secondary education!

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International Students

Background: In 2014, the Federal Government simplified work permits for international students. This simplification, however, still does not allow or encourage international students to take ‘non-traditional’ pathways for their education mainly because these non-traditional pathways (such as working as a salaried staff for the AMS) generally mean students have to take a lighter course load. Due to the current permit specifications, taking a lighter course load is not an option for international students.

Recommendations from ADVOCAN:

  • The Federal Government should remove the hourly restriction on working off campus during the duration of the day.
  • The Federal Government should remove the requirement to be enrolled as an FTE (full-time equivalent) student in order to work without a permit
  • The Federal Government should introduce bonus points for graduates of Canadian Institutions towards their applications for permanent residency status.
  • The Federal Government should exempt Canadian-trained international students in the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program from the cap of the Canadian Experience Class.
  • The Federal Government should simplify the requirements for employers to use the Express Entry Program for international students.

Helping international students so they can have the same opportunities as students who are already Canadian citizens? Simplifying the process for international students to stay in Canada post-grad? These are ideas we can all get on board with!

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Youth Unemployment 

Background: According to Statistics Canada, in June 2015 the youth unemployment rate was 12.9 percent– twice the national unemployment rate. Advocan plans to bring this issue to the forefront of the conversation with members of parliament in order to find a solution that benefits students.

Recommendations from ADVOCAN:

  • Promote youth hiring in Canada, with the goal of addressing the skills gap, unemployment and underemployment of youth through the use of grants, tax credits, and wage subsidies.
  • Creating grants for post-secondary institutions to expand their co-operative work opportunities in underrepresented disciplines such as social sciences and humanities.

Mo’ money and promotion for students to find job opportunities in the work force and at their individual institutions? Alright, alright alright!

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It’s safe to say we’re pretty excited to have the opportunity to work with student leaders from across the country! For more information check out https://myams.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Federal-Advocacy-Briefs.pdf

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Queen’s University sits on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee & Anishinaabe peoples.
L’Université Queen’s est située sur les terres traditionnelles des peuples Haudenosaunee et Anishinaabe.
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