The Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) meets regularly with politicians at all levels of government to advocate for Waterloo undergraduates, ensuring students' wants and needs are shared with those who can make change.

Each level of government is responsible for different aspects of the student experience, from tuition, to financial aid, housing, mental health and everything in between. It’s a bit complicated but we’ll break it down, so you get a better picture of how the process works and why government advocacy is so important to your experience at Waterloo.

Municipal

In a city with three post-secondary institutions, it’s fair to say Waterloo is a student town. To ensure students are successful here in the community, our student voice is a leader in decisions made in the region that impact us. When it makes sense to do so, we advocate as a collective with student advocates from Laurier and Conestoga. Together, we have built and maintain respected reputations within the community, that help to ensure we're not only asked for input but are also jointly responsible for many initiatives in the region.

Ion University of Waterloo stationThe Municipal government handles all the topics considered “local issues,” including:

  • Transit (GRT, LRT, your UPass)

  • Housing

  • Snow removal

  • Garbage collection

  • Bike lanes and trails

  • Safety

  • Building good relations with non-student residents

  • “Unsanctioned Public Gatherings” (i.e. St. Paddy’s Day celebrations on Ezra Avenue)

When students need a voice on any of these issues, chances are, we’re already on it. Your Municipal Affairs Commissioner is the student lead on all things local advocacy. Connect with them if you have any questions, want to know where we’re at locally, have a concern you’d like us to look into, or want to get involved yourself.

Provincial

OUSA sign with students in frontIn Canada, education at all levels is viewed as a shared responsibility for all levels of government. Constitutionally, however, a great deal of power and duty is placed on the shoulders of the provinces. In turn, the Ontario government deals with issues such as:

  • The money:

    • Financial aid (OSAP specifically)

    • Domestic student tuition regulations (international student tuition is determined at the university administrative level)

    • University finances

    • Ancillary fees (fees you pay that aren’t tuition)

  • Jobs and co-op

  • Accessibility

  • Mental health

  • Student safety

  • Sexual Violence Prevention

With so much to cover at this level, WUSA partners with student associations across the province and became a founding member of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance External Link (OUSA). Representing approximately 150,000 student voices from eight of Ontario’s universities means we’re impossible to ignore, we have a greater perspective on these bigger issues, we can share resources and knowledge and have the backing of a student collective to push for meaningful change.

Your WUSA VP Education works with OUSA to learn the barriers preventing students from accessing quality education, including tuition fees, ancillary fees, and more. OUSA conducts research to determine what the issues are, creates evidence-based policy recommendations and organizes campaigns to advocate for its members. The findings are shared with government officials and organizations within Ontario.

Your WUSA VP Education is one of eight directors on the OUSA Board of the Directors (also called the Steering Committee), and helps conduct research, write policy papers, interview for news stations, guide the organization by participating on its Board, and may even serve as the OUSA President, spending more time talking to politicians and doing provincial advocacy

Visit the OUSA website [external link], for more information. Students interested in participating in OUSA initiatives should contact the VP Education.

Federal

The Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities (UCRU) is a collective of undergraduate student unions from some of Canada's largest research-intensive universities.

Each year, the UCRU delegation meets with Members of Parliament and policy makers at Parliament Hill in Ottawa to discuss advocacy priorities of the 235,000-plus post-secondary students we collectively represent.

WUSA Execs Topics of discussion at the federal level include

  • Indigenous student rights and access to post-secondary

  • Undergraduate research

  • International students

  • Tuition and financial aid (the federal government is responsible for a large part of aid provided through OSAP and other provincial programs)

  • Jobs and co-op

  • Student safety

  • Saving students money through copyright policy

UCRU’s Mission:

To advocate to the Federal Government of Canada for an affordable, inclusive, and high-calibre undergraduate university education with opportunities for research through a coalition of student associations from U15 universitiesExternal link.

UCRU’s Members

We are a founding member of this coalition of eight student associations from Canadian research-intensive universities:

Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) – University of Waterloo

Western University’s Student Council (USC) [external link] – Western University

McMaster Student Union (MSU) [external link] – McMaster University

The Alma Mater Society (AMS) [external link] – Queen’s University

University of Toronto Student Union (UTSU) [external link] – University of Toronto

The Alma Mater Society of UBC Vancouver (AMS-UBC) [external link] – University of British Columbia

University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union (USSU) [external link] – University of Saskatchewan

University of Manitoba Students Union (UMSU) [external link] – University of Manitoba

Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) [external link] – McGill University

For more information about UCRU or our advocacy delegations to Ottawa, please contact your Vice President, Education.

Take action by getting involved

Apathy and ignorance are not characteristics of our generation. If you want the government to know youth are paying attention and just how powerful our voice is, here’s how to get involved yourself:

Stay connected with us and we’ll keep you informed on upcoming elections, opportunities and advocacy initiatives.