Student organisations release joint publication on mental health

Fredericton, NB — Student organizations across the country today released a joint publication on student mental health, titled, Shared Perspectives.

The publication includes contributions from the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA), and Students Nova Scotia (SNS), and was produced with the support of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA).

“We are proud to have coordinated this project with our partners,” said NBSA Board Chair Sara Camus. “Mental health is a huge priority for us and access to relevant services on campus remains a challenge for many of our members.”

The publication sheds light on the limited successes and continued challenges facing students across the country with regard to increased access to mental health-related services on campus by featuring case studies from each of the participating provinces.

“Students cannot continue to drive the mental health conversations on campuses without the financial and institutional support by government and the postsecondary sector,” said Robert Burroughs, the NBSA’s executive director. “Failing to ensure the mental health of our youth will be devastating on New Brunswick’s economy and communities across this province and country.”

The NBSA has called on the New Brunswick government to increase spending in mental health by 1 percent per year over the next 5 years to meet the Canadian Mental Health Association’s recommended national level of spending at 9 percent.

Shared Perspectives is the first time that all five organizations have formally collaborated, representing almost 300,000 postsecondary student voices through this publication.

Design by Edward Wojciechowski
Translation by Julien Pitre

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NBSA releases report on State of Student Affairs in New Brunswick

Fredericton, NBThe New Brunswick Student Alliance today released The State of Student Affairs in New Brunswick. The report, an analysis of the province’s  public postsecondary sector, takes the form of a public letter to the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, the Honourable Jocelyn Roy Vienneau.

“Her Honour was generous in granting our Alliance an audience last November during our annual Advocacy Week. During that time, we promise an update of our progress and accepted some challenges from her,” said Sara Camus, the NBSA’s Board Chair. “This is our response.”

The report also serves as the first edition of a yearly publication from the Alliance in response to government actions, such as funding allocation through the Budget and Main Estimates processes, and the general wellbeing of the postsecondary sector.

“We have an obligation to our members to provide them with a voice to the public, independent of their institutions and the government. The State of Student Affairs in New Brunswick does that,” added NBSA executive director Robert Burroughs. “We are taking the narrative back into our own hands and telling our own story.”

University presidents have been invited to respond to the report.

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Students concerned with latest graduate employment outcomes

Fredericton, NB — The New Brunswick Student Alliance is concerned by the latest employment outcome figures on the graduating Class of 2014.

The figures, released last week by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission indicate declines over the past decade in full-time employment and median earnings (in constant dollars) for postsecondary graduates in New Brunswick.

“This represents a very real problem for the province’s ability to retain young people,” said NBSA Board Chair Sara Camus. “An educated, well-paid workforce is the future of New Brunswick and our graduates need to be adequately supported to stay in the province after their studies.”

The drop in the number of recent graduates working in jobs requiring university education or management indicates another worrying trend: the underemployment of young people across the Maritimes.

“Underemployment is a very real issue for recent graduates,” noted Robert Burroughs, NBSA executive director. “Add to that high debt levels and declining wages, and we have the makings of a demographic disaster for New Brunswick.”

The NBSA has previously urged government to address high debt levels — 50 percent higher than the national average — of graduates in New Brunswick by making necessary changes to programs such as the Timely Completion Benefit (TCB). The TCB, a debt relief program, was last modified in 2015 by imposing a higher debt-cap on students.

Burroughs added, “Student loan debt reduction is a component of the government’s Economic Growth Plan and should be: high debt levels are linked with slow economic growth and outmigration. Yet, two years on and the TCB remains unchanged.”

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NBSA welcomes adoption of Bill C-16

Fredericton, NB — Postsecondary students in the province are welcoming the successful passage of Bill C-16 through the Senate of Canada.

Similar to changes made to the New Brunswick Human Rights Act, the bill will amend both the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act to include protections against discrimination and hate crimes on the basis of gender and gender discrimination.

The New Brunswick Student Alliance had written public letters to the province’s senators in Ottawa, urging them to support Bill C-16. The bill now awaits Royal Assent to become law later this month.

“The adoption of Bill C-16 sends a powerful message to the youth of New Brunswick and, indeed, across the country,” said Sara Camus, Chair of the NBSA’s Board of Directors. “It also says to our members that even in the face of all the hate in this world, they are loved and valued and their dignity is inviolable and will be enshrined in law.”

Since last fall, the Alliance has also been talking to university administrations, along with the Human Rights Commission and the Government of New Brunswick 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.

Robert Burroughs, the Alliance’s executive director, added that, “Like other similar discussions in other jurisdictions, this is a fundamental 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 continues to seek the elimination of barriers to gender neutral bathrooms on campuses.

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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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