Disability Policy in New Brunswick — Putting theory into practice
3/29/2021 10:46:33 AM

Mount Allison students work with NB Coalition of Persons with Disabilities on policy briefs as part of political science course

MtA_NBCPD_ClassProjectThree Mount Allison University students are working with a provincial advocacy group to help bring issues around disabilities in New Brunswick to the forefront. And, they are doing so as part of their undergraduate degree.

Students Michael Cormier (International Relations), Michael Nolan (Philosophy, Politics and Economics), and Maggie Washington (Political Science and English), with Mount Allison Political Science professor Dr. Mario Levesque, are currently working on the project with the New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (NBCPD). 

With Levesque’s guidance, the student trio have conducted research and created policy briefs on basic income, accessible and affordable transportation, disability supports, and affordable housing over the winter term as an applied, independent studies course (Disability Policy in New Brunswick).

“This type of project allows students to apply key skills, such as research, critical thinking, communications and writing, to current real-world problems where they can see the challenges involved trying to address needed changes in public policy,” says Levesque. “The learning is iterative, dynamic, and deeper than simply reading things from a book. The key point is that one does not really know something until they can apply it in real-world settings. I am very impressed with the research and documents done by Michael, Michael, and Maggie this term.”

Brent Macpherson is Chair of NBCPD. He says the students’ research is invaluable for an organization like his.

“I feel that research such as this, done by the Mount A students, will play an instrumental part of the NBCPD’s advocacy efforts and there is no way we could even put a dollar amount to this,” says Macpherson. “We are so very much appreciative of the countless hours that they and Dr. Levesque have put into this research for us. We are so grateful.”

Cormier, Nolan, and Washington met with members of the NBCPD throughout the term to conduct research and prepare the briefs for the organization. They are now in the final stages of preparing the series of documents focussing on basic income and beginning research around accessible transportation in the province.

“This is my first time participating in an experiential learning course at Mount Allison. It allows me to use my academic skills in a practical setting and develop my understanding of advocacy,” says Washington. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the NBCPD and help promote the rights of persons with disabilities in NB.” 

“In our collective policy brief that we created for NBCPD, I worked on the section that established the connection between disability and poverty, specifically in New Brunswick,” says Nolan. “That said, I find the work that we are doing to be very rewarding, and I hope that it may play a role in galvanizing much needed change to the current situation for persons with disabilities in the province.”

“Having done an independent student research project with Dr. Levesque last summer, I jumped at the chance to do more experiential research,” says Cormier. “Preparing policy briefs for the New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities to aid them in their advocacy has allowed me to gain experience doing research with practical, real-world applications.”

NBCPD is a non-partisan organization created for people with disabilities by people with disabilities. Their goal is to achieve a New Brunswick where people with disabilities would all have access to an adequate standard of living, have access to suitable supports to be able to fully and equally participate in society (https://www.nbcpd.org/)

Photo caption: Three Mount Allison University students, working with Political Science professor Dr. Mario Levesque, are currently working on the project with the New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (NBCPD), conducting research and creating policy briefs on basic income, accessible and affordable transportation, disability supports, and affordable housing. Clockwise from top left are: Michael Nolan, Mario Levesque, Michael Cormier, Brent Macpherson, President of the NBCPD, Murielle Pitre, Vice-Chair and Communications, NBCPD, and Maggie Washington.