Throughout April, the SU advocacy team focused largely on engaging elected officials as well as developing the SU advocacy strategy targeted towards the provincial government.
The SU hosted the 11th annual Calgary Leaders’ Dinner in early April. The Leaders’ Dinner is an opportunity for SU students leaders and staff to mingle and have dinner with elected officials from all three orders of government. This year, 20 elected officials attended the event including Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides, Health Minister Jason Copping, and Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who also delivered this year’s keynote address. Student leaders had the opportunity to build relationships and discuss issues like tuition, jobs, and financial aid with members of the government.
Throughout April, the SU focused on the student jobs issue. Since the cancellation of the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) in 2019, students have been without a targeted employment program to help them find summer or new graduate work. Students are struggling to find full-time summer work, just as they did the previous two summers. The pandemic has meant fewer opportunities and many students have had opportunities cancelled by employers. In 2020, 42% of UCalgary students surveyed couldn’t find full-time work or had opportunities cancelled. In 2021, this number was 25%. While that is an improvement, we don’t believe summer 2022 will be much better for students.
Despite two jobs programs being announced by the provincial government, in Jobs Now and Alberta at Work, students were overlooked for both. Youth unemployment is currently about double the rest of the population, and something must be done. To the SU’s understanding the province has no plans to implement a jobs program to help students. However, our advocacy will continue. We want to ensure that all students are able to work and help cover their tuition costs and living expenses.
The SU has taken a public approach and has spoken to reporters at the Calgary Herald. The SU President also appeared on CBC’s provincewide call-in show, Alberta at Noon, where student and summer work were discussed for the full hour.
Finally, the SU hosted its Colour Night gala to say a fond farewell to the outgoing 79th SLC and welcome the 80th SLC. The new executive team and SLC members will hit the ground running over the summer and push forward the SU’s advocacy goals.