Dear [recipient name will go here], [recipient position will go here];
I am a post-secondary student at [submission:values:school] living in [your jurisdiction will go here] and I need your help to #CloseTheGaps surrounding Canadian post-secondary education!
I’m personally facing a serious issue around Student Financial Aid. In addition to my personal financial struggles, the COVID-19 pandemic has left many students financially strained and unsettled. At a time when they are accruing roughly $17,000 on average in student loan debt, many students have also been blindsided by sudden pandemic-induced unemployment and long-term uncertainty in the labour market. While immediate emergency relief in the Canada Emergency Student Benefit has been extraordinarily helpful, the pandemic, and its associated economic turmoil, persists. According to Statistics Canada, high youth unemployment may linger for years, and the Class of 2020 could lose between $23,000 to $44,000 in cumulative earnings over the next five years, making it more difficult for many to pay their student debts. In addition to that, pandemic or not, upfront, non-repayable aid in the form of grants is a proven way to make education more affordable for those who want to attend post-secondary but do not have the means to do so.
Therefore, I recommend that the Government of Canada do the following to #CloseTheGaps around educational affordability and accessibility:
- Maintain the 2020-2021 funding levels to Canada Student Grants under the Canada Student Loans Program in response to COVID-19, thus doubling grant maximums for eligible students from $3,000 to $6,000 per academic year going forward.
- Extend the Home Office Expense Deduction to Canadian post-secondary students forced to attend school from home due to COVID-19.
- Increase funding for the SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR scholarship programs on a recurring basis so that they return to the proportion they represented in 2011.
- Reduce financial barriers to apprenticeships by expanding the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant to provide upfront support covering the first year of apprenticeship training.
2020 has been a challenging year for all Canadians, and post-secondary students across the country know it. We have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. We are all facing unprecedented levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and social isolation, as well as a bleak job market unlikely to improve in the short-term. In addition to that, many of us are also facing persistent discrimination, non-existent child care, insufficient broadband, or confusing restrictions as we attempt to re-enter and study in Canada. These gaps are not only due to COVID-19-related challenges; this past year has also seen persistent gaps that existed prior to the pandemic exacerbated, thereby compounding the hardship many students are facing. You can read about some of the gaps my peers and I are facing here: www.closethegaps.ca/showcase
I’d also encourage you to champion the full spectrum of solutions we are proposing to #CloseTheGaps! You can find them all here: www.closethegaps.ca/thefacts
[your name will go here]
[your location will go here]
#CloseTheGaps is a grassroots campaign seeking to highlight the many challenges faced by post-secondary students in Canada during this unprecedented year. It is powered by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), a non-partisan, not-for-profit, student organization composed of 23 student associations, representing 275,000 post-secondary students from coast to coast to coast.