The SFSS support students reach their full potential
by providing resources and services that represent, connect and benefit our membership


Read the 2019 Recommendations to the Government of Canada


  • Successfully lobbying the provincial government to eliminate interest on the provincial portion of student loans, saving graduates an estimated $22 million in 2019/2020;
  • Lobbying the provincial government for $5 million in funding towards open education resources (OERs), of which $3.26 million was pledged in 2019;
  • Advising the provincial government on the housing affordability issues faced by SFU students, resulting in a $73 million loan being allocated towards building on-campus student housing at SFU, providing an additional 1,971 beds;
  • Playing an instrumental role in the Rent with Rights campaign, to ensure SFU improves their Renters’ Handbook in order to receive more provincial funding for on-campus student housing;
  • Establishing a strong relationship with other student societies in BC to form a coalition that represents over 200,000 students;
  • Effectively securing approval from SFSS membership for a new U-Pass agreement that will guarantee students the lowest annual increases on their U-Pass until 2025 than ever before;
  • Receiving recognition in both MP Terry Beech’s “Condensed Policy Timeline for the Burnaby Mountain Tank Farm” regarding the Board’s letter to the National Energy Board (now the Canada Energy Regulator) on the reconsideration of the Trans Mountain pipeline project, and in MP Peter Julian’s letter of endorsement for the Burnaby Mountain Gondola to the Mayor of Burnaby regarding the Board’s support of the project;
  • Successfully recommending that the Canada Energy Regulator revise Condition 124 of the Trans Mountain Expansion project to incorporate stakeholder consultation into the Emergency Management Program for the project; and
  • Being recognized by the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Canadian Minister of Accessibility, as the first university in Canada to meet with members of the Canadian government in Ottawa to advocate for students with disabilities.

Continuing Advocacy Topics

Refugee Rights

  • In the 2019-2021 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada has committed to resettling more refugees than in previous years with Local Immigration Partnerships (LIP’s) and settlement strategic plans existing in all three cities in which SFU campuses are located: Burnaby, Surrey and Vancouver. Often these strategic plans disregard post-secondary students, leaving Government-assisted refugees (GAR) to rely on BC Student Aid, in which is the only provincial post-secondary program that can be used by refugee students in British Columbia
  • RECOMMENDATION: Increase federal support for GAR refugee access to Canadian post-secondary education while additionally advocating for municipalities to provide funding in LIP’s

Tank Farm Safety

  • The Burnaby Terminal of the Trans Mountain pipeline also referenced as the Burnaby Mountain tank farm is situated in close proximity to the SFU Burnaby campus, approximately 700 meters from campus. Currently, there is no evacuation plan in place in the event there is an incident at the tank farm with the possibility of spills, chemical leakages or explosion on Burnaby Mountain. Requirements for Trans Mountain to submit an evacuation was approved a mere six months before operations initiate on Burnaby Mountain by the National Energy Board (NEB).
  • RECOMMENDATION: Advocate the NEB to provide an approved evacuation plan before construction on Burnaby Mountain initiates and advocate for efficient transportation options for prompt evacuation off the mountain.

International Student Tuition Affordability

  • International tuition fees are not regulated and are increasing at alarming rates every year. Fees can increase by as much as 20% every year, which can significantly increase the financial burden on international students. There is no predictability in these fee increases and they are often rolled out with very short notice. International students that cannot gather these funds in time are at risk of being removed from their courses and the country.
  • RECOMMENDATION: Amend the Tuition Fee Limit Policy to include the regulation of fees for international students to create fairness, predictability and consistency.

Sexual Violence Prevention Support

  • In 2016, Bill 23 was passed which provided a mandate for institutions to implement adequate reporting and resources to support survivors of sexual violence. This mandate resulted in additional costs to institutions and many of them do not have the sufficient funding to implement the needed changes. This act also lacks the oversight and accountability procedures that are necessary to ensure it is effective.
  • RECOMMENDATION: Review the sexual violence and misconduct policies across the province and undertake a needs assessment to determine the funding lacks some institutions have. Additionally, develop an accountability mechanism for consistency.

Needs-Based Grants

  • BC is the only province that does not offer up-front, needs based grants or forgivable loans. These two forms of financial aid provide the assurance needed by low and middle-income background students who are not able to take on large amounts of debt for their education. According to public opinion polls collected by the BCFS, 68% of British Colombians are in support or strongly in support of the up-front, needs based grant program.
  • RECOMMENDATION: Increase non-repayable student financial aid options for students from low- and middle-income backgrounds through an up-front, needs-based grants program.

New Advocacy Topics

Gondola and SLS Funding

  • Students utilizing public transportation to SFU campuses is growing significantly with the demand growing by 60% over the next twenty years, with 88% percent of students relying on public transit to commute to campuses. Wait times of bus departure routes to Burnaby Mountain can exceed over 20 minutes, being unreliable in the particular event of heavy snowfall, earthquake, fire or the potential of hazardous implications caused by the Burnaby Mountain tank farm. Furthermore, the purposed SkyTrain Expo Line extension from Surrey to Langley would decrease student travel time to the Surrey campus, with the proposal terminus being one stop away from campus. The Surrey Langley SkyTrain (SLS) would remove bus connections for additional students travelling from Burnaby and Vancouver. Public transit use has many benefits, including contributing less to pollution, reducing traffic congestion and accidents, improving health, and reducing stress.
  • RECOMMENDATION: Provide 40% of the funding to the Burnaby Mountain gondola project and $608 million for the SLS project to create reliable and sustainable commuting options for SFU students and staff.

National Housing Strategy

  • In the Lower Mainland, students are facing obstacles to find affordable housing with the high demand of rental units in the area. The Canadian National Housing Strategy has worked to improve living conditions of Canadians, where students whom spend more than 30% of their limited income on housing need pro-active solutions to housing. With the already limited amount of housing available, dedicating affordable student housing units will not only contribute to the objectives of the National Housing Strategy but reduce the competitive pressure that students exert on the rental market.
  • RECOMMENDATION: Create a student forward housing solution within the National Housing Strategy that includes dedicated affordable housing units to ensure pro-active solutions for student needs.

Eliminating Interest on Student Loans

  • Currently in Canada, post-secondary student loans provided by the federally-issued Canada Student Loan program are being charged a fixed interest rate of 5.95%, or a floating interest rate of 3.95%. Students are required to begin paying back their loans six months after completing their education, at which time interest would begin to accrue on the loan. Therefore, students will accumulate a significant amount of financial debt due to interest charged over their post-secondary education, which particularly disadvantages low-income and otherwise marginalized new graduates.
  • RECOMMENDATION: Remove all interest charged on any student loans in Canada, allowing education to be more affordable and attainable for all individuals

Renters’ Rebate

  • Students living outside of their parents’ home spend, on average, 50% more on housing than those living with their parents. This means that students living off-campus and not with relatives are more likely to live below the poverty line than their peers. During the 2017 provincial election, the NDP promised a $400 renters’ rebate helps to alleviate financial stress faced by low-income individuals. Nevertheless, the rental rebate system has the potential to be abused by tenants who do not need the rebate, as well as landlords who see it as a way to increase monthly rents, driving up the cost of housing.
  • RECOMMENDATION: Instead of offering a $400 renters’ rebate to all renters in the province, create a rental rebate program geared to income that complements the existing Rental Assistance Program (RAP), thus extending this financial aid to students.

Accessibility Through Legislation

  • In British Columbia, the provincial government is currently collecting feedback from citizens to inform the development of accessibility legislation. Unlike other provinces, including Ontario, B.C. does not have any accessibility laws, policies or standards where accessibility legislation outside of the Building Code. In Ontario, accessibility legislation extends to every individual or organisation regardless of sector. Ensuring accessibility legislation applies to not only provincially-regulated organisations, but individuals and businesses, increases inclusion within workplaces, communities and post-secondary campuses to remove barriers and create further opportunities for people with disabilities throughout B.C.
  • RECOMMENDATION: Ensure that the proposed accessibility legislation applies to all businesses and non-profit organisations, in addition to public sector organisations. Additionally, recognize disabilities are ever-changing by including language of “furthering universal design” in all proposed legislation.

Single Use Plastics

  • As part of the City of Vancouver’s Zero Waste 2040 strategic plan, the Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy was adopted in June 2018, with 86% of the 8,000 people and hundreds of businesses that provided input in favour of reducing single-use items. On November 27, 2019, Vancouver City Council voted to approve, in principle, proposed by-law amendments concerning the ban of plastic straws, single-use beverage cups, single-use utensils, shopping bags; clarifying the term “food vendors”; and establishing fines for offences pertaining to the plastics ban.
  • RECOMMENDATION: Consider accessibility concerns, upfront costs of reusable items for low-income residents, differences in education and awareness across municipalities and for cultural reasons, extended producer responsibility and municipal versus provincial jurisdictional issues.