The election results may have just recently come in, but already the UNBSU and the NBSA have plans for lobbying.
Last Monday, the Liberal party swept up a majority in the provincial election under their leader, Brian Gallant. Pat Joyce, executive director of the NBSA, said he looks forward to a fresh start of working with a new government in all matters of post-secondary education.
“It’s certainly something that means some change for post-secondary. We saw the Liberals make quite a few commitments that we were happy with and the fact that they’ll be in for four years means that our members will be able to work with the government to make post-secondary more accessible and affordable, so there are certainly a lot of opportunities to make in some sense,” said Joyce.
Many of the commitments made by the Liberals concerning post-secondary education can also be found in a document published by the NBSA this summer.
The document, called Degrees of Prosperity, outlined some of the major areas the NBSA wanted the new government to focus on.
These commitments include removing the parental and spousal contribution requirements in the assessment of assets in the student loan program, introducing new financial aid for those with the most financial need and introducing a more strategic approach to youth mental health.
The Liberals have also mandated that universities will need to set tuition fees so that they will be decided for the length of a degree program.
“It makes it more predictable for students,” Joyce said.
“Of course not only are students interested in having predictable tuition fees, but also having reasonable tuition fees so we’ll be advocating, working with the government to make sure that universities are well-funded and that tuition is regulated appropriately.”
But while the Liberals have committed to these things, it’s the job of bodies such as the NBSA and the UNBSU to hold them accountable.
“We’re looking forward to working with them to implement all those promises as soon as possible,” said Greg Bailey, president of the UNBSU.
At the moment, there is a lot of waiting involved.
“We’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for the new cabinet to be introduced so we’re really looking forward to meeting with the new post-secondary education, training and labour minister,” said Nicole Saulnier, UNBSU vice-president external.
“There’s a lot of transition and I look forward to everybody getting down to business,” Bailey said.
Bailey and Saulnier will also be meeting with the new MLA for Fredericton-South, David Coon of the Green Party.
“[We’re] definitely looking forward to meeting with David Coon from this riding,” Saulnier said.
“He’s really open to meeting with us. He’s discussed having a youth round table to discuss our priorities and stuff so that’s always really good. I think he’ll be a good person to talk to since he’s in this riding.”