Election time in Alberta

It’s official: Alberta’s provincial election will be taking place on Tuesday, April 16. Day by day, it becomes more likely that the election will come down to Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party and Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party.

So, what does this have to do with Bow Valley College?

Recently, Jason Kenney has expressed a desire to repeal much of what Rachel Notley’s government has introduced, particularly when it comes to the education system.

Notley’s government, on the other hand, has recently introduced Bill 19, designed to regulate tuition fees and empower students. Bill 19 has been widely praised by government officials, students and Student’s Associations.

Under Bill 19, the cost of tuition may not rise more than 10 per cent the cost of the previous year. In order to implement Bill 19 in the 2020-21 school year, Notley’s government extended Alberta’s tuition freeze into a fifth year, until the end of 2020.

It also requires post-secondary institutions to provide international students with an estimate for how much their tuition will increase outright in their letter of acceptance. International students have been subject to large increases in tuition, and they were notoriously unaffected by the tuition freeze. Some post-secondary institutions have come under fire for allegedly increasing international students’ tuition in order to make up for losses caused by the tuition freeze.

In addition to this, Bill 19 increases representation for the Student’s Associations across Alberta. Under Bill 19, Student’s Associations must sign off on the implementation of any new non-mandatory fees.

Marlin Schmidt, Alberta’s Advanced Education Minister, applauded this move, saying that it “gives significant power to students to have control over the cost of their education.”

This decision was made, in part, through suggestion by the Alberta Students’ Executive Council (ASEC), comprised of over 100,000 students across the province.

If the UCP are looking to repeal decisions that the NDP have made, Bill 19 and the protection that it provides students could be at risk. So, as a concerned student, what can you do?

ASEC have recently released Get Out The Vote – a voting guide for students. Intended to familiarize students with the process of voting, it is a step-by step guide on how to get involved.

ASEC acknowledges that voting is a choice – you can choose not to vote, or to spoil the ballot – yet asserts that voting is one way to have a palpable impact on the future. Whether or not you agree with Bill 19, whether or not you side with Jason Kenney or Rachel Notley, voting on April 16 is the most effective way to make your voice heard.