NB Student Alliance meets with government over policy proposals
Proposals include expanded mental health services and health care for international students
It was a busy week for the New Brunswick Student Alliance as the organization met with provincial government officials to pitch eight policy proposals.
"What we're trying to do is paint a picture of what the contemporary post-secondary experience looks like and where the government can assist and where they can make investments," said Robert Burroughs, executive director of the New Brunswick Student Alliance, last week on CBC NB's Shift.
The meetings were part of the NBSA's annual Advocacy Week on Nov. 7-10.
One of the proposed initiatives involves the province's Tuition Access Bursary [TAB]. Burroughs explained the NBSA supports the program, but it also reminded the province of the organization's expectation to have a "full sliding scale" and a program similar to Ontario ready for the start of the 2017-18 post-secondary school year.
Another policy proposal highlighted by Burroughs is expanded mental health services. Burroughs noted that for the past four to five years, the emphasis on university campuses has been on education and awareness about services and fighting the stigmas associated with mental health.
More mental health specialists
But the NBSA wants to see more counsellors in place to help people in need. Given the number of university students in the province, Burroughs said 15 full-time mental health specialists are needed to provide services.
He explained that universities are not able to fund the additional staff. As a result, the NBSA is looking to the province's department of health to provide funding for staff and, by doing so, help reduce wait times.
"What we're saying to government now is that this is a public health crisis that the department of health needs to be addressing," he said.
Health coverage for international students
Expanding health care to international students is another policy proposal. Burroughs said other Maritime provinces, such as Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, offer full provincial health care coverage for international students. He would like to see New Brunswick do the same in order to remain competitive and attract international students.
Burroughs is keeping an eye on the next provincial budget to see how education is treated as priority.
"If you want an economic solution, which everyone here in this province is looking for, consistent and stable investments in post-secondary education is an economic solution," he said.
The NBSA's eight policy proposals can be found on its website.
The full interview can be heard here.
With files from Shift NB