The new SU executive and Student Legislative Council were sworn in at the beginning of May and advocacy has continued since then.
The SU met with Minister Jason Copping, Alberta’s Health Minister and MLA for the university area. The SU highlighted the challenges students are facing finding work for the summer months. While we don’t yet have data on student summer work, we are hearing from students that this summer is a lot like last, where 1 in 4 students couldn’t find full-time summer work.
The SU highlighted its disappointed that students have now been left out of two provincial jobs programs. Jobs Now, announced last year, provided no support for students and limited help for new graduates finding their first job. The government also announced Alberta at Work this spring, which also provides no support to students finding work. This as the youth unemployment rate continues to be around double the provincial rate.
On a positive note, and thanks in part to SU advocacy, the NDP opposition announced plans to bring back the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) should the form government next year. STEP provided a wage subsidy to employers to incentivize student hiring. This created more student roles, often linked to a student’s field of study giving them relevant experience in their field. The NDP committed to expanding STEP to four times its previous funding. They estimate this would create 12,000 student positions across the province.
The SU is ramping up its local advocacy around transit and plans to meet with City Council on changes to the UPass program and discuss transit safety.
Looking ahead over the summer, the SU will be ensuring that the university honours its commitment to keeping tuition to the rate of inflation going forward. In addition, the SU will be looking hard at mandatory fees students pay to ensure that any increases come with enhanced value to students, or remain at their current rates.