Student groups get together for once
Instead of the usual name calling and muscle flexing, The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and the Canadian Federation of Students find themselves in relative agreement as they lobby the federal government on common ground.
The two national student lobby groups are asking the federal government to earmark financing for post-secondary education in their transfers to the provinces. CASA would like to see part of the Canada Health and Social Transfer go specifically to post-secondary education. The CFS is also asking that much of the transfer, worth billions of dollars each year, be allocated directly towards post-secondary funding.
Presently, the CHST is given to the provinces in one lump sum and is then distributed to different areas, as the provinces see fit. Despite the fact that the federal government is all but expected to write a blank cheque to the provinces, if they ever tried to dictate how the money was spent you can bet the provincial government would cry foul.
The federal government should take the initiative and tell the provinces that a certain portion of this money should be spent specifically on post-secondary education. While, to an extent, this may undermine provincial jurisdiction, the provinces must not lose sight of the fact that this money is a gift a billion dollar one at that. Would the attachment of a few strings really hurt?
A certain percentage should go towards post-secondary education, just as certain percentages should be slated for health care and social policy.
It is rather ridiculous to ask that all of this money be spent on post-secondary education. Instead, it should be divided evenly among the programs or be redistributed in such a fashion that is fair to all areas.
CASA and CFS should be applauded, however, for bringing up the issue of post-secondary education's chronic underfunding. The average voter across Canada does not know how big of an issue post-secondary funding, or lack thereof, actually is. If they were asked, most would say health care is the top priority, and while it is, other social policy areas should not suffer.
The two national organizations should also continue to work with their respective provincial counterparts in order to push the CHST issue at both levels of government.
CASA and CFS may not get anywhere in this round of lobbying, but the underfunding message can never be heard too many times. As opposed to their usual thinly concealed cat fight, it is great to see both organizations working on the same relative page.
Their philosophical partnership only seems natural, as, in the end, they both represent the same constituencies you, the students. Every time they forget that, they only hurt the greater cause.