NBSA disappointed at government election dates decision

Fredericton, NB — Postsecondary students in the province are disappointed at the New Brunswick government’s decision not to accept the Electoral Reform Commission’s recommendation to move the election dates. The Commission proposes moving the election date from the fourth Monday in September to the third Monday in October, primarily to allow more postsecondary students in New Brunswick to participate in provincial election.

“In addition to being disappointed, we are also rather perplexed,” said Travis Daley, chair of the NBSA’s board. “An October election date would have allowed student unions to build civic engagement and education into our welcome week schedules and could have allowed a more comprehensive election preparation in the public school system, certainly where there might be more first time voters.”

In its testimony to the Electoral Reform Commission in January, the New Brunswick Student Alliance stressed the importance of making New Brunswick’s electoral process more accessible for students at the secondary and postsecondary levels.

“The government has repeatedly spoken about accessibility as a key pillar of its education plans yet is choosing not to make these elections accessible to students,” said the NBSA’s executive director, Robert Burroughs. “At a time when this province is struggling to engage young people and keep them here, it beggars belief that the government would seek to disenfranchise them, despite the advice of an independent commission.”

Burroughs further rejects the notion that moving the election dates in 2018 would be ‘unfair’, stating that, “All parties would still be able to prepare on equal footing to a scheduled election. We urge the government to change its mind on this.”

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NBSA supports changes to Human Rights Act

Fredericton, NB — Postsecondary students in the province are welcoming changes to the New Brunswick Human Rights Act to prohibit grounds of discrimination and exceptions on the basis of gender identity and expression.

Since last fall, the New Brunswick Student Alliance has talking to university administrations, along with the Human Rights Commissions, and several government departments on the need for more protections for students on the basis of gender. In its annual advocacy document, released in November 2016, the Alliance urged the government to eliminate barriers for gender neutral bathrooms at postsecondary institutions.

“Our membership has challenged the Board to continually assess how we interpret accessibility to postsecondary education.” said Ryan LeBreton, vice-chair of the NBSA’s Board of Directors. “We made it clear to Minister Arseneault and his team that these types of protections and provisions are important to our students and we support this change.”

Robert Burroughs, the Alliance’s executive director, added that, “Like other similar discussions in other jurisdictions, this is not so much a bathroom issue as it is a access issue. Our institutions are public spaces and we expect that our members will have access to them and in a way that best serves their individual needs.”

The NBSA has also written public letters to New Brunswick’s senators in Ottawa, urging them to support Bill C-16, a comparable bill seeking to introduce similar protections to both the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The NBSA continues to seek the elimination of barriers to gender neutral bathrooms on campuses.

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NBSA accepts integral role in SEED program

Fredericton, NB – Postsecondary students in New Brunswick are pleased with the recent changes to the Student Employment Experience Development (SEED) program announced last Friday.

The NBSA has been engaged with the PETL team responsible for the SEED program since the Fall and recommended improvements to the program. Almost all were adopted and have been implemented for the 2017 season.

“Changes, particularly to the marketing and communication of the voucher program, were necessary and we are delighted that the Department was willing to take student and stakeholder concerns on board and make welcomed improvements,” added Robert Burroughs, executive director. “The Minister’s commitment to keeping SEED a student-focused employment program is also greatly appreciated.”

Proposed in these changes include a draw for student vouchers. NBSA staff will serve as third-party validators to certify the independence of the draw.

“We are pleased to have a strong working relationship with the civil servants at PETL,” said Travis Daley, NBSA Board Chair, “and will be working with them over the coming weeks to flesh out the NBSA’s role as a validator and how we can help our membership better understand the voucher process.”

Effective immediate, the NBSA will also voluntarily exempt itself as an employer in the SEED program and its Board Directors will henceforth recuse themselves as voucher recipients for as long as the NBSA is involved in the validation process.

Students can apply for the SEED program through NBjobs.ca here.

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Support for Universities Canada in opposition to US executive order

Today, on behalf of the over 12,000 postsecondary students that we represent at Mount Allison Students’ Union, St. Thomas University Students’ Union, UNB Student Union, and UNB-SRC, the NBSA wrote to New Brunswick’s Members of Parliament, expressing our support for Universities Canada and the Canadian postsecondary sector in opposition to the US executive order.

You may read that letter, addressed to Karen Ludwig, MP and copied to all New Brunswick’s Members of Parliament, here.

This ban runs counter to our central mission of accessibility to postsecondary education in New Brunswick and limits the freedom of mobility of our members. We support calls for the ban to “end as quickly as possible”.

We encourage all of our members to write to New Brunswick’s MPs.

Mail may be sent postage free to this address:

[Name of MP]
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada
K1A 0A4

Contact information by email and phone for New Brunswick’s MPs and their Hill & constituency offices can be found on the Parliament of Canada’s website.

In The Media

Investment in Education Must Extend to Include Post-Secondary

Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are urging government not to forget about them, following recent commitments to invest heavily in education and early childhood development.

The New Brunswick government has budgeted sizable amounts for education and early childhood development. Speaking at events across the province last week, Premier Brian Gallant committed his government to budgeting the most ever in the area over four years.

“We commend government for its commitment to invest in the public school system,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “However, for a growing number of New Brunswick’s youth, the pursuit of their education does not end with high school – and neither should government’s investment in them.”

New Brunswick ranks eighth out of the ten Canadian provinces in terms of public funding to universities. The 2015-16 provincial budget put a freeze on that funding.

Low levels of government support have contributed to post-secondary students in New Brunswick graduating with debt facing the highest average debt at $35,200, well above the national average of $22,300.

Upwards of 70% of jobs created in the next seven years are expected to be in occupations requiring a post-secondary degree.

“Education is a continuum, and it extends from early childhood development to graduation from a post-secondary program,” said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair. “In order to ensure that New Brunswick’s youth are properly educated and prepared for the workforce, government must be willing to pay its share at every stage.“

“The accessibility, affordability, and quality of post-secondary education in New Brunswick are paramount to student success and to the success of our provincial economy. We strongly urge government to invest in that education.”

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