The NB-EI Connect program, a lifeline for students who had worked sufficient hours in summer jobs to secure employment insurance benefits, met an abrupt end in June 2022. Shockingly, the provincial government executed this cancellation without any public announcement or consultation. This decision left thousands of students in financial distress and ignited a wave of protests and petitions from student unions across New Brunswick.



The UNB Student Union (UNBSU) was one of the leading voices in advocating for the reinstatement of the program. They argued that this program was essential in making post-secondary education more accessible and affordable for students. In response to the abrupt cancellation, UNBSU issued two statements in June and July 2022, imploring the government to reverse its decision. They also requested a one-year pause on the Fixed Student Contribution (FSC) program, which requires students to contribute a fixed amount of money towards their education, irrespective of their income.


According to UNBSU President Amanda Smith, the government informed them that the program would not be reinstated and that they had introduced policies addressing affordability and accessibility in post-secondary education.


Smith stated, “We have pivoted our advocacy on other aspects of student financial aid, such as student grants and bursaries, student housing, sustainability, skills development, and student health. Our annual advocacy week in November, where we meet with various stakeholders from all three levels of government and community members to present our policies and perspectives is also coming up.”


Protests and Advocacy:

To address the issue after the termination of NB-EI Connect, UNBSU has taken several measures, including:

1. Designing a typeform for students to share how the cancellation has impacted them.

  1. Holding a meeting with the Minister of Post-secondary Education, Training, and Labour; Trevor Holder, as well as the Deputy Minister, Daniel Mills.
  2. Hosting events with MP Jenica Atwin, MLA David Coon, and Mayor Kate Rogers.
  3. Participating in Policy Forum 2022 on climate change.


The Fédération étudiante du Centre universitaire de Moncton (FÉCUM), which represents the students of the Université de Moncton, also joined the fight for EI benefit return. They highlighted that the cancellation disproportionately affected Francophone students, particularly those from northern New Brunswick, where seasonal work is a significant part of the economy. FÉCUM met with the Honourable Holder and proposed some options, such as a one-year grace period and a needs-based grant. Unfortunately, they received no positive response from the government.


FÉCUM said that cutting this program was “100% a decision made by the NB government” and had nothing to do with federal EI guidelines. “It was a choice made to help understaffed business owners, and not the result of any intervention from Ottawa. We had contacts with Northern NB federal MPs who assured us that reinstating NB-EI Connect was absolutely feasible, and that the NB government was fully free to maintain the program with whatever modifications seemed necessary, or even re-establish the one they have cut,” they said.

Collaboration and Impact:

FÉCUM collaborated closely with UNBSU throughout the campaign, conducting a survey among students to assess the depth of the impact of NB-EI Connect’s cancellation. In a short span of a little over a weekend, the survey received over a thousand responses.

The affected students are still awaiting answers and solutions from the government. They remain hopeful that their voices will be heard and that their educational pursuits will not be compromised by this decision.

In conclusion, the cancellation of the NB-EI Connect program has ignited a strong response from student unions, who are dedicated to making post-secondary education more accessible and affordable for all. While the government has shown no signs of reinstating the program, students and their advocates continue to fight for its revival, ensuring that their voices are heard and their educational aspirations upheld.

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