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.”

Press Releases

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.

Press Releases

NBSA welcomes key changes to student financial assistance

Fredericton, NB — Postsecondary students across New Brunswick are celebrating changes made to student financial assistance programs in the province. Today, the government announced the introduction of the Tuition Relief for the Middle Class (TRMC) program, an extension of the existing Free Tuition Program (FTP).

“We have been pushing the government for almost a year now to include a progressive income threshold for their upfront grants program,” said Robert Burroughs, executive director of the New Brunswick Student Alliance. “The announcement today is a fundamental step to increasing both accessibility and affordability for students.”

The government also announced that it will be extending provincial healthcare coverage to international students, effective September 2017.

“This is fantastic news for international students in this province,” said Fernanda Damiani, board director of the NBSA and president of the St Thomas University Students’ Union. “This is the result of three years of hard work by the NBSA and we are delighted that the government is recognizing the value of international students in New Brunswick.”

Roughly 12% of university students in New Brunswick are international and contribute to almost $200 million to the provincial GDP. New Brunswick will join Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador in offering medicare coverage to its international students.

“This finally puts New Brunswick on a level playing field when it comes to international recruitment,” said Burroughs, “and will play a big part in supporting the retention and post-graduation transition of these students.”

More information on the thresholds for the TRMC is available here.

More information on the student financial assistance programs through the Government of New Brunswick is available here.

Press Releases

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

NBSA urges senators to adopt Bill C-16

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 senators, urging them to support Bill C-16, an Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

You may read that letter, addressed to Senator John Wallace and copied to all New Brunswick’s senators, here.

Bill C-16 will enshrine in law protections against discrimination and hate crimes on the basis of gender identity and expression. It currently is before the Senate of Canada and its adoption would lay a strong foundation for comparable changes to the NB Human Rights Code and our push to eliminate regulatory and legislative barriers to gender neutral bathrooms on PSE campuses.

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

Mail may be sent postage free to this address:

[Name of senator]
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada
K1A 0A4

Contact information by email and phone for New Brunswick’s senators and their staff can be found on the Parliament of Canada’s website.

In The Media

Students Pleased With Changes To SEED Program

Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are commending government for modernizing the Student Employment Experience Development (SEED) program by eliminating its partisan system of grant distribution.

The SEED program provides grants to employers that in turn allow for the hiring of summer students for an average of eight weeks. In years past, elected officials have been responsible for deciding where grants were distributed, with those in government receiving twice as many weeks to allocate as their counterparts in the opposition.

“The value of experiential learning cannot be understated,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “The SEED program was designed to provide post-secondary students with on-the-job experience in their field of study, and to improve their employment prospects at graduation.“

“There is absolutely no reason for such a program to be partisan.”

Co-ops, internships, and work placements such as those funded through the SEED program help post-secondary students to develop their skills, identify career direction, and grow their professional networks. Students who complete one or more of these opportunities are more likely to find a job at graduation.

Studies have shown that those who take part in experiential learning in New Brunswick are also more likely to remain in the province long-term.

“We took our concerns over the partisanship in the SEED program to the legislature back in December, and are very pleased to see changes being made,“ said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair.

“New Brunswick’s post-secondary students believe that experiential learning opportunities should be diverse and non-partisan, and that politics should never get in the way of student success. This is a good move by government. As more details become available, we hope to also see an increase in the number of SEED grants in reflection of government’s commitment to a job-ready generation.”

The SEED program funded 1,115 placements in 2015-16.

Press Releases

Budget Offers Opportunity To Invest In Students

Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are calling on government to commit to student success by adopting a number of key recommendations in the 2016-17 provincial budget.

Included among the recommendations are the reinvestment of funds from the tuition rebate program, the elimination of harmful income assessments for financial aid, an extension of Medicare to international students, and an increase in experiential learning opportunities.

“2015 was a tough year for post-secondary students in New Brunswick,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “Between the elimination of the tuition rebate, raising of the Timely Completion Benefit’s debt-cap, and a university operating grant freeze, students feel as though nothing has gone their way.“

“Now, students are asking government to show that they have not, in fact, been put on a back-burner.”

The four recommendations would see government invest in better financial and social supports for New Brunswick’s post-secondary students – supports that would help to reduce average debt loads, increase enrolment, and better ensure the development of a productive and skilled labour force.

They would also reduce the likelihood of outmigration from the province.

“Post-secondary students in New Brunswick face limited work opportunities, the highest average debt load in the country (for those with debt), and are often forced to choose between employment and financial aid due to a broken student loan system,“ said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair.

“As a result, over 6,200 youth have left New Brunswick in the last five years alone.“

“Government has stated that it wants to create the province’s most job-ready generation. Students want to be that generation, but they will not get there unsupported. We strongly urge government to adopt these recommendations in the upcoming budget and commit to student success.”
Read our pre-budget submission in full here.

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