UM Advocacy Wins:
Together, the UMSU VPA, UMSU Women’s Representation, UMSU President, and UM Vice-Provost Students implemented a menstrual product pilot program in 10 bathrooms across UM Campuses. This advancement has been an advocacy focus for for several years and UMSU hopes to continue the initiative as a resource for students for years to come. Going forward, UMSU will be monitoring the data that comes out of it.
Thanks to UMSU’s advocacy efforts in our Pre-Budget Submission, the University of Manitoba administration has dedicated $450,000 towards Open Educational Resources (OERs) in the upcoming academic year. This investment in OERs will help to reduce financial barriers for students and promote equitable access to learning materials. We are proud to have played a role in advancing this important initiative.
After multiple conversations earlier in the year surrounding student financial support, we have heard that the university administration is committing an estimated $3 million. This investment will provide much-needed support for students facing financial barriers, ensuring that they can continue to pursue their academic goals and achieve success.
Through UMSU’s collaboration with Nutrition Education and Community Outreach (NECO) and UM Admin, the new Master of Nutrition program has been approved by the provincial government. This program will provide students with cutting-edge knowledge and skills in the field of nutrition and help them pursue rewarding careers that make a positive impact on individuals and communities. We’re proud to have contributed to the launch of this program and look forward to seeing the successes of our students in the future.
UMSU’s advocacy has resulted in The Joyce Fromson pool now offering Women’s-Only-Time to provide a comfortable and inclusive swimming environment for individuals who identify as women. We are proud to have successfully implemented this initiative to promote inclusivity and accessibility at UM.
UMSU collaborated with Parking Services to enhance the student parking experience by introducing 40 brand new stalls on campus. These stalls opened in the 2022 fall semester.
UMSU is excited to support the new partnership between the University of Manitoba Libraries and the UM Bookstore that offers non-textbook course materials to students through UM Learn Reading Lists for free. This is a great initiative that will greatly reduce the cost of course materials for students. While students who want paper copies will have to pay to print them, the costs are still much lower than buying them from the bookstore. Moreover, the new platform is accessible, with features such as high-contrast display, adjustments to luminosity, and compatibility with screen readers to ensure that all students have access to the materials they need.
The UMSU Service Centre is now an official free take-home naloxone distribution location for students. They can receive up to two free naloxone kits at a time. Naloxone rapidly reverses opioid overdoses by binding to receptors in the brain, blocking the effects of opioids on the body. Learn more about the Manitoba Take-Home Naloxone Program here: https://www.manitoba.ca/health/publichealth/naloxone.html
Provincial Advocacy Wins:
“Dear Minister Reyes,
We are writing on behalf of the University of Manitoba community in support of the Manitoba Alliance of Post-Secondary Students’ proposal to reinstate free provincial health coverage for international students.
As the largest and most comprehensive university in the province, the University of Manitoba is home to the largest number of international students in Manitoba. They make up over 21 per cent of our student population, provide diverse perspectives and experiences, contribute to research work, and enrich the overall student experience. In addition to our own international students, we also host international students participating in programs offered by the International College of Manitoba (ICM), many of whom later choose to continue their studies as UM students. In today’s globalized economy, academic, and social interaction with students from around the world make our campuses and our classes more vibrant, diverse, and dynamic, enriching our learning environment.
Beyond their contributions to our campuses, international students make significant societal and economic contributions to Manitoba and Canada. International students contribute approximately $21 billion a year to the Canadian economy and over $380 million to our province. They also support the Canadian economy by addressing our short, medium and long-term labour market needs across a broad range of sectors.
While we are encouraged by the recent announcement by the federal government, temporarily lifting the 20-hour-per-week cap on the number of hours post-secondary students are allowed to work off-campus, they continue to face financial hardships with limited access to financial aid, which can create many challenges during their course of study. Removing access to free provincial healthcare coverage has only added to their financial burden. Furthermore, it creates a patchwork of plans for these students with no guarantee their coverage will remain affordable or comparable with what Manitobans receive. This results in confusion among international students and impacts the perception of our sector and province.
Reinstating all international students into the provincial healthcare plan would ensure that they are treated as valued members of our society, and that Manitoba remains a welcoming, attractive, and affordable destination for international students in highly competitive market, for years to come.
Sincerely,President Michael Benarroch and VP Laurie Schnarr”
During a summer consultation with the government as well as several conversations afterwards, UMSU expressed our total opposition to the Performance Based Funding measure. In a post-Throne Speech interview, Premier Steffanson acknowledged their plan to step back from the initiative, despite previously expressing support for it. We are pleased to see that this funding model, which poses a threat to accessible and affordable post-secondary education, will not be implemented in Manitoba.
Federal Advocacy Wins:
Thanks to the advocacy work of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), in partnership with UMSU and other student organizations, the Government of Canada has announced an increase in Canada Student Grants from $3,000 to $4,500. This will make post-secondary education more accessible and affordable for students across the country. It is encouraging to see the government taking action to support students during these challenging times, and we are proud to be a part of this important work alongside CASA.
The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations’ (CASA) critical efforts have led to a huge win for international students in Canada, as they will now be allowed to work unlimited hours each week until the end of 2023, benefiting all students across the country.
On April 1st, 2023, Canadian student loan borrowers won’t pay any extra interest. This is a massive win for students all over Canada.