Today Students Nova Scotia (StudentsNS) is pleased to see government invest in post-secondary mental health and student employment in Budget 2018-19, however is discouraged by the lack of action to make post-secondary education more accessible for everyone.
StudentsNS is extremely excited to see the Government adopt our recommendations and invest $500,000 in a post-secondary mental health pilot project. The pilot project introduces a suite of technology-based intervention programs on campuses across Nova Scotia, allowing students access to effective online mental health services. “We worked closely with the Association of Atlantic Universities mental health regional coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Cawley to develop this post-secondary mental health strategy,” said Sam Nixon, StudentsNS Vice-Chair. “This investment from government will lead to better mental health outcomes and reduce wait times through an innovative approach to providing necessary services on campuses across Nova Scotia.”
The budget also includes investments in youth and student employment initiatives, most notably funding for additional student co-op placements, a $1.7 million increase to the Graduate to Opportunity program, and $356,000 for the Mitacs Accelerate program. These investments are targeted to ensure Nova Scotia post-secondary students and recent graduates are able to gain meaningful experience during their studies, help them find employment, and ultimately stay in the province after graduation.
For some post-secondary students however, this budget did not address the issues of affordability or accessibility. “It’s disappointing that government chose not to provide Medical Service Insurance (MSI) to our international students”, said Annie Sirois, Chair of StudentsNS. “International students contribute immeasurably to our economy and our communities. In our conversations with Government and opposition parties everyone was in agreement. It costs less than $1 million per year to cover all of our international students, and this simple change would save international students thousands of dollars and prove that Nova Scotia is a welcoming province that wants them to stay after graduation.”
The budget also notably lacked any action or investment into the student financial aid system, and did not introduce loan forgiveness for NSCC graduates, leaving many students struggling to afford the cost of their education.
Overall this budget demonstrates Government listens to the student voice and takes action to address some student concerns. StudentsNS looks forward to working collaboratively with the Government to continue to improve the affordability, accessibility, and quality of the post-secondary system.
For more information, contact:
Tristan Bray, Executive Director