Across Canada, students at various post-secondary institutions flocked together to demand one thing: a more fair, livable wage.
That was the case for students at the University of Manitoba who staged a walkout outside the institution’s campuses on Monday. The demands for graduate and post-doctoral students boiled down to wanting greater investments in scholarships, fellowships, and grants.
“The real purpose today is to advocate for the federal government and the tri-agency council to come forward over two decades into the future”, said Morgan Taverner, a master’s student and member of UofM’s health science graduate student association.
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The Canadian government offers fellowships for students in various fields of research, the value of which depends on the type of field. For example, a fellowship with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada leads to a stipend of $45,000 per year.
On the other hand, the federal Banting fellowship offers $70,000 a year and deals with research areas like health, natural sciences, engineering, and social sciences.
The stipend a student receives, according to Taverner, is the set wage they must rely on for the year.
“Prices have gotten to the point where students have to skip meals. They have to live (with) five-plus people to one house. It really isn’t acceptable,” said Taverner.
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In an email, local organizer Levi Newediuk said the situation is dire. The federal government must increase the value and number of scholarships and fellowships for students, he said.
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“Graduate students and post-doctoral scholars are the workforce that drives innovations at Canada’s universities,” said Newediuk. “Federal scholarships, fellowships and research grants provide most of the wages that (they) receive.”
Lauren MacGowan, another member of the health science graduate student association, said that while the protestors demand change from the government, the university has remained supportive of students’ needs.
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