AMS signs letter addressed to federal party leaders

Nearly 40 student unions outline priorities for leaders ahead of October election

AMS one of 37 signatories to address letter to federal party leaders
Journal File Photo

The AMS joined dozens of student unions from universities across Canada to release a letter on Tuesday addressed to federal party leaders.

Representing more than 900,000 students, the AMS and 37 other student unions outlined a number of student priorities they want federal party leaders to consider ahead of the October election.

“Representative student organizations like the AMS and our colleagues across Canada have the resources and the platform necessary to bring issues which concern people of our generation to the forefront of a national conversation this fall,” the AMS wrote in a statement to The Journal.

According to the letter, eligible voters aged 18-38 will be the largest voting bloc in Canada for the October election.

“University students also have an obligation to take this time as a period to reflect on what they value and how they think that we as a community should tackle the issues that face us today,” the AMS said. “It’s us that is going to have to grapple with some of the most fundamental challenges that our nation has seen in decades.”

Addressed simply to the federal party leaders, the letter outlined three student priorities that should be considered ahead of the election.

The first priority for the federal government is to eliminate interest on federal student loans and increase federal grants for post-secondary students.

The letter stated this would “immediately make post-secondary education more accessible for low-to middle-income students.”

The letter added that the federal parties should all commit to reallocating a large portion of the $1.5 billion saved by eliminated tuition tax credits to finance up-front grants administered by the Canada Student Loans Program.

“Low-to middle-income students, having less resources to inform their tax filings, are the least likely to utilize this credit immediately and, simultaneously, they take on more debt,” the letter stated.

The second priority the letter listed for federal parties is to create sustainable, high-quality jobs and work-integrated learning opportunities for students.

“All parties should commit to investing in the creation of meaningful opportunities for students to get ahead in the workforce,” the letter said, listing undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and increased funding for the Undergraduate Student Research Awards as examples.

“This will provide students with opportunities to prepare for success in the workforce and help Canada bridge the labour gap.”

The final priority the student unions included for the federal parties is support for Indigenous students and the calls of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

According to the letter, a 22 per cent university attainment gap remains between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people in Canada. Of eligible Indigenous learners, only 21 per cent are funded by the Post-Secondary Student Support Program.

The letter stated that education is a “powerful tool for reconciliation and to improve the economic and social conditions of Indigenous people,” and called on federal party leaders to “commit to fulfilling these duties and ending the backlog of Indigenous students waiting for funding to enter their post-secondary education.”

In its statement to The Journal, the AMS wrote these three priorities are “laudable objectives that need to be at issue this election season.”

“We would like to encourage Queen’s students to examine the issues at hand and use the judgement that they have acquired here to make a decision on election day that they are comfortable with.”

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