I am just about to enter the first year of a Master's program in Biology and was beyond thrilled to learn I had won an NSERC grant (CGS M). I have to move provinces for my Master's, so I was happy to learn that I was being provided with this funding to accommodate the first year of my education. And then I learned that this prestigious, competitive award I had worked so hard for was less than minimum wage. Luckily, I am extremely passionate about learning and furthering my education, because otherwise, I might have given up. Students need to be supported. We are the future of science, and if we are too worried about bills or groceries, how can we focus solely on our research? My province recently removed the EI program geared to students, which I was hoping would provide me with a little extra help to get by. Now I have to apply for all the loans I can get. I shouldn't be worried about how I'm going to pay rent with the meagre scholarship I was so excited about.
If graduate funding was CAD $35,000/yr for all students, how would that change your life? As a beginning graduate student, I would be happy to learn that I didn't have to spend hours pouring over student loan programs. I wouldn't worry about whether I have to get a part-time job to cover living expenses while trying to conduct my research. It would alleviate so many of my anxieties. Today I learned that the funding I have received puts me below the poverty line in Canada. How is that acceptable? I would love to only have to worry about my research.