On Oct. 21, members of the Memorial community joined President Timmons, federal Minister Seamus O’Regan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for an hour-long virtual town hall.
Students, staff and faculty submitted their names in advance for the chance to be featured on screen and ask a question directly to the Prime Minister. Twenty people were chosen at random, but after 15 insightful questions, time ran out.
Unfortunately, that meant five participants didn’t get their promised facetime with the PM.
Here, the Gazette is sharing their questions and the reason they wanted Prime Minister Trudeau’s thoughts on the topic.
“Canada produces approximately 7,000 PhDs per year. How do you encourage and retain this expertise and give them the opportunity and support to innovate within Canada?
“As a soon to be defending doctoral candidate, postgraduate life is quickly becoming a reality. Recent and soon to be graduating PhDs have spent many years of their lives gaining high-level expertise and have contributed ideas and knowledge to the collective consciousness. Have we/are we (as a country and as the government) doing enough to support and allow these highly specialized individuals to solve the problems society faces for which they have spent their life training?”
Research and Development Office, Marine Institute
“I work for the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University.
We are a separate campus of Memorial focused solely on the oceans and the oceans related economy.
We also have a little bit of a different business model in that a significant portion of our revenue comes from working directly with industry to supply critical training and applied research solutions.
“As you can imagine, the pandemic has been a bit of a double whammy for us – not only did we lose our ability to generate revenue for a period of time, our major industry partners are often directly or indirectly tied to Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore industry.
“Given that, what role do you see the federal government playing to support institutions such as ours that rely on having vibrant industries for our success as we navigate the pandemic and beyond?”
First year, bachelor of arts
“During this global pandemic, what measures are taken by the office of the Prime Minister to support immigrant students who are ineligible for provincial health coverage because of their statuses when now is that they need it the most.
“The concern is not limited to just equal health care; in the midst of a global crisis where universities are facing budget cuts and students are suffering due to hikes in tuition, why can an international student not be eligible to apply for the same kind of scholarships or financial aid or even allowed to work the same number of hours to cope with the financial crisis that this pandemic has brought? Not to mention, the support from the government in form of CERB was highly appreciated; although, there was a mass of international students who were ineligible for the same or the student benefit that was introduced later.
“In circumstances like these, a little support from the government in terms of creating equal opportunities to overcome the issues is what an immigrant student wishes for this Christmas. In times like these, when there are massacres taking place in the home countries of many international students, a majority of them are worried about their loved ones. Now is the time when an immigrant needs support from the government, as these immigrant students are future citizens of the country who will be putting in their effort and vote towards a government that is by the people and for the people.”
Graduate student, exercise and work physiology
“Hello Prime Minister! You seem to be a big proponent of exercise and physical activity with a successful boxing career and being a runner. Today there is extremely convincing research in the realm of the benefits of physical activity for everyone in this country, especially as a treatment for those with chronic diseases.
“It has been demonstrated that physical activity programs are efficacious at treating chronic diseases and can often replace costly prescription pharmaceuticals. What policies do you have that will implement and embed “exercise as medicine” physical activity-styled programs into our communities and health-care systems that will help treat and prevent chronic diseases instead of react to them?
“Over the years I have had the privilege to know countless individuals who suffer from a wide spectrum of chronic diseases. After the shock of getting diagnosed, there is usually only one generically prescribed treatment option: to take the pills the doctor prescribes. There needs to be another option.
“The research is so convincing that regular physical activity can be critical in managing and treating chronic diseases. With some of the highest rates of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, Canada must implement physical activity-styled treatment solutions that are more effective and inexpensive.”
Fadal Saleh Al-Adjaa
Graduate student, maritime management
“How would the federal government help educational institutions (particularly in Atlantic Canada), ocean organizations and companies drive innovation in ocean technologies to position Canada as a leader in the blue economy.
“This year marks a century of ocean science, and Canada is behind many nations in utilizing its ocean resources. Although the country borders three oceans, we don’t call ourselves an ocean nation as we did not realize the full potential of the unique location that our country has.
“My question is important because it highlights the importance of federal and provincial government investments in blue economy. Such investments would create entirely new industries, thousands of good paying jobs, lift thousands of people from poverty, retain talents in Atlantic provinces and reduce the ongoing depopulation, increase the country’s influence on the world stage (as a leader in ocean technologies) and help Atlantic provinces, that rely on oil and gas industry, to diversify their economy and pave the way to a futuristic and more sustainable economy that provides equal opportunities and does not harm the environment.”
If you missed the town hall, or want to watch again, it is available on Memorial’s YouTube channel.