Formed in 1981, the Canadian Federation of Students is a bilingual national union of over one-half million students from more than 80 university and college students' unions across Canada. There are more than 35 Federation member local students' unions in Ontario uniting over 300,000 full-time and part-time students. The Federation provides students with an effective and united voice, provincially and nationally.
Because universities and colleges are funded primarily by the federal government and administered by the provincial government, government policies and priorities of both levels determine the quality and accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada.
Tuition fee levels, student financial assistance programmes, Aboriginal student funding and funding for research are all set directly or indirectly by both levels of government. Thus, it is vital that students collectively organise at the provincial and national levels to ensure that students' rights and concerns are fully represented.
Strength in Numbers
No individual students' union, no matter how big or active, has the resources or the political clout on their own to effectively influence the post-secondary education policies of the provincial and federal governments. It's also much more cost effective for a large number of students' unions to pool their resources and to work in partnership than for each to undertake this work alone.
Through the Federation, students' unions collectively pool their resources to provide student owned and operated services such as the Studentsaver discount card and the National Student Health Network, which are designed to save students money.
Decisions Made Democratically
Each students' union has an equal say in setting the policies, direction and priorities of the Federation including how funds are spent. All major decisions are made at provincial and national congresses four times annually at which every member students' union is represented.