Advocates looking to lower tuition fees, make post-secondary more accessible
By Patrick Vaillancourt, News Editor
Officials from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), along with representatives from its member unions across the country, descended upon Ottawa last week for the annual Lobby Week. This included students and elected representatives from college and university student unions from coast to coast.
Douglas Students’ Union (DSU) representative Madison Paradis-Woodman was in Ottawa this week, just one of several members of a delegation from British Columbia fighting to lower post-secondary tuition fees in Canada.
Taking place every year, Lobby Week is an initiative started by CFS. This year, students presented political figures in Ottawa with a copy of a CFS report entitled Public Education for the Public Good, which outlines how tuition rates have increased over time and gives politicians some public opinion data on student issues.
CFS is also calling on its membership to get involved in the campaign by writing letters to their members of parliament and senators. The federation’s Lobby Week website (lobbyweek.cfs-fcee.ca) provides users with templates to send letters to multiple politicians simultaneously.
CFS is actively lobbying governments at all levels to do something about the rising costs of post-secondary education. According to their website, “[a]ttainment of a post-secondary education has become a prerequisite to participate in the Canadian workforce.” They argue that the importance of a post-secondary education to recruiting employers makes it necessary for government to find ways of making college and university more universally accessible.
The Other Press requested comment from a representative at the DSU and the CFS regarding Lobby Week efforts, but comments were not available to us by press time. The CFS report, however, paints a bleak picture of the accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada.
“Students are struggling to pay for their post-secondary education more than any previous generation,” says the report. “Record-high tuition fees combined with the recession means that those in vulnerable groups, including Aboriginal and other racialised students and those with disabilities, are facing increasing barriers to post-secondary education. Higher costs and fewer summer employment opportunities have contributed to an increasing number of students working during the academic year.”
A digital copy of the Public Education for the Public Good report is widely available on the CFS Lobby Week website.