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CAUT Bulletin Archives

January 2000

Access 2000 Campaign Gains Momentum

The Canadian Federation of Students' Access 2000 campaign is gearing up. "Thousands of people have signed the federation's petition calling for the restoration of social programme funding, a reduction in tuition fees and a federally coordinated system of needs-based grants," said CFS national chairperson Michael Conlon. "Public funding of post-secondary education is indispensable if genuinely autonomous thought and research is to flourish in Canada."

The federation is calling for a day of strike and action starting on Feb. 2, 2000, as part of a strategy to win these demands.

"The CAUT Council endorsed the Access 2000 campaign at its November meeting and encouraged all local and provincial associations to assist local CFS groups as much as possible," said CAUT president Bill Graham

The Access 2000 campaign comes at a time when a real debate has emerged over how the federal government should spend its multibillion dollar surplus. After years of budgetary cuts to post-secondary education, health care and social assistance, Canadians have ranked funding of public services as top priority.

Students are looking for real solutions to the crisis in higher education. Universal access to post-secondary education grounded in a student's willingness to learn has been replaced with limited entry based solely on income. The CFS says boutique initiatives such as the Canada Millennium Scholarships and the Canada Foundation for Innovation are not the solutions. What is needed is restored federal transfer payments to the provinces for social programme funding, a national system of grants based solely on need, and a reduction of tuition fees.

In addition to CAUT, several other national organizations have already endorsed the campaign, including the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Auto Workers, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Momentum is building across the country. In British Columbia, the BC Teachers' Federation has circulated thousands of petitions to its members throughout the province.

At a recent Newfoundland Federation of Labour convention, where students made a presentation on education issues and concluded with a statement on the need for a student strike, they were given a standing ovation.

In Ontario, the Canadian Union of Public Employees has declared Feb. 2 a day of action for their members and events have been planned for most major cities in the province. The Ontario Federation of Labour has endorsed the campaign.

In Quebec, federation members are organizing action for the February strike date.

Students in Alberta have launched a campaign to freeze tuition fees. The Canadian Federation of Students made a presentation to an Alberta Colleges and Technical Institutes Student Executive Council conference in October explaining how a tuition fee freeze was won in British Columbia, Quebec and Newfoundland. In November, members of the Council pressed their demands by marching from Calgary to Edmonton.

On college and university campuses across the country, local committees have been formed. Some university senates have agreed to academic amnesty for students participating in Feb. 2 actions, so students will not receive penalties for missing exams or deadlines.

Successful strike votes have been undertaken at Concordia and Carleton universities.

Residence councils have thrown themselves into activities, as have course unions.

At Laurentian University, every club has been invited to endorse and participate in Access 2000.

CFS says this type of openness and enthusiasm will ensure Access 2000 has the broadest possible base and the widest support.

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