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Federal student lobby group CASA sets their priorities for upcoming year

By Babur Ilchi, October 16 2014 —

The lobby group that advocates for students at the federal level, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), have set youth employment, mental-health programs, federal loans, grant improvements and removing the in-study income exemption limit as their priorities for the year.

CASA represents 22 student associations from across Canada. CASA president Jon Champagne said they lobby the federal government for top-notch post-secondary education.

“We focus on creating an accessible, affordable, innovative and high-quality post-secondary education system,” Champagne said.

CASA is looking to reform Canada student loan regulations. Students’ Union president Jarett Henry represents the SU on CASA along with vice-president external Levi Nilson who is a voting member.  Henry said that if a student earns more than $100 per-week, they lose that much funding from their Canada student loan.

“We think that unfairly penalizes working students. If you work for $10 an hour for 20 hours a week you lose $400 a month in federal loan aid. We don’t think that makes any sense so we’re taking that to [the federal government].”

Champagne said they’re also looking at increasing the amount of federal loans available to students, which hasn’t increased in 10 years.

“We’d also like to see an increase in grants so students don’t have to take on as much debt — again an amount that hasn’t increased in a very long time. It has not kept up with the cost of education,” Champagne said.

CASA is concerned about the lack of labour market data for youth planning their post-secondary education.

“We think the federal government should invest in making that data available through some sort of labour market info department or program.” Henry said.

Student leaders from across Canada will be in Ottawa from Nov. 17–21 to lobby members of parliament and cabinet ministers.

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