The Impact of Alberta's cuts to Students in Continuing Education

The Impact of Alberta's cuts to Students in Continuing Education

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Denise Walton started this petition to Government of Alberta and

According to research conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 1 in 5 people will be impacted personally by mental health. In addition, The Canadian National College Health Assessment found that 44% of students who participated in their health assessment reported being so depressed they could not function in the past 12 months.

It is clear that a vast majority of students, including myself, who go through continuing education, whether that is in the trades to get a certificate or university to obtain a degree, will experience high amounts of stress; impacting their mental health.

The province of Alberta on November 27th vowed to spend 22 million dollars towards 24/7 crisis care for student in continuing education. Though the government is making steps in the right direction, what does it mean for accessibility when nearly 5000 service workers will be losing their job in the next few years? Nurses, social workers, counsellors etc. will no longer be available to help students access the resources they need in an appropriate time frame. According to current research done by the Journal of Counselling Psychology (2019), the longer a person has to wait to receive mental health care, the more at risk they become; resulting in self harm, suicide ideation, and suicide.

In addition, the Government of Alberta, looks to cut university spending by 12.5% in the next year. Though they vow to create a 24/7 crisis intervention plan for universities, according to research done by the University of Manchester (2018), people experiencing a mental health crisis are at a higher risk of self-harm after being discharged from crisis intervention. With funding cuts to health care, how can the government ensure that appropriate care has been taken with these individuals? This includes getting to know their story, understanding from an empathetic lens their journey with mental health and understanding how workers can begin to help them through their crisis.

Current research shows that continual follow up after a crisis is the best way to eliminate further risk for mental health. However, this follow-up cannot be done or not done well when service workers are already over worked, underpaid and the volume of staff isn't enough.

Will this mean that students will now have to pay out of pocket for continuing care for mental services if Alberta moves towards a privatized health care model, when students have already paid thousands of dollars to be stressed for years to have better lives?

As a social work student, I follow the Canadian Social Work Code of Ethics (2005). Value 3 of these ethics state that" Social workers strive to use the power and authority vested in them as professionals in responsible ways that serve the needs of clients and the promotion of social justice."

These types of values shouldn't just be for social workers, but for everyone who believes that by cutting funding to universities, to mental health programming and reducing the number mental health service workers, the Government of Alberta will do more harm to students then good in accessing adequate mental health services.

This is a call of action to the Government of Alberta to revaluate the cuts they’ve made to funding and the elimination of 5000 service workers jobs in Alberta. These cuts will be detrimental to the lives of students in Alberta unless change is made.

For further information on the research and resources used in creating this petition, follow the references below:

American College Health Association. American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Canadian Reference Group Executive Summary Spring 2016. Hanover, MD: American College Health Association; 2016.

Bennett, D., Healing, D., & Graveland, B. (2019, October 25). Jason Kenney government tables budget with cuts to Alberta's civil servants, universities. Retrieved from

Campbell, D. (2018, October 2). Newly discharged mental health patients at much higher risk of death. Retrieved from

Canadian Mental Health Association . (2019). Retrieved from

CASW Code of Ethics. (2005). Retrieved from

Herring, J. (2019, November 28). Province announces round-the-clock mental health resources for post-secondaries. Retrieved from

Shea, M., Wong, Y. J., Nguyen, K. K., & Gonzalez, P. D. (2019). College students’ barriers to seeking mental health counseling: Scale development and psychometric evaluation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 66(5), 626–639. (Supplemental)

Vallianatos, H., Friese, K., Perez, J. M., Slessor, J., Thind, R., Dunn, J., … Shah, J. L. (2019).ACCESS Open Minds at the University of Alberta: Transforming student mental health services in a large Canadian post‐secondary educational institution. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 13, 56. Retrieved from



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