Canadian Federation of Students
Strength in Numbers
The Canadian Federation of Students was formed in 1981 to provide students with an effective and united voice, provincially and nationally. At the time, it was recognized that for students to be truly effective in representing their collective interests to the federal and provincial governments, it was vital to unite under one banner.
Today, over one-half million students from more than 80 university and college students’ unions across Canada are federated. The University of Toronto Students’ Union federated in the early 2000s and is known as Local 98 of the Canadian Federation of Students.
Because universities and colleges are funded primarily by the federal government and administered exclusively by the provincial government, government policies and priorities determine the quality and accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada.
Tuition fee levels, student financial assistance programs and funding for research are all set directly or indirectly by both levels of government. Thus, it is vital that we collectively organize at the provincial and national levels to ensure that our rights and concerns are fully represented.
No individual students’ union, no matter how big or active, has the resources or the political clout to influence effectively the post-secondary education policies of the provincial and federal governments on its own. At best, an individual students’ union could have an impact on only a few federal electoral ridings. Governments ignore groups that pose no political threat to them. It is also much more cost effective for a large number of students’ unions to pool their resources and work in partnership than for each to undertake this work on its own. The Federation serves this purpose, giving campus students’ unions across the country a united voice and powerful influence.