The bushfire crisis currently gripping Australia has had a devastating impact on wildlife and people. CAUT’s sister organization, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), is reporting that the fires have directly affected some of their members who have suffered loss of their homes and other financial hardships. Some universities have also provided members with additional leave so that they can defend their homes and communities and provide volunteer support in response to this national disaster.
CAUT associations and members can show their solidarity with the NTEU by donating to the Australian Council of Trade Union’s Bushfire Relief Fund or the Australian Red Cross.
Beyond this direct support, the NTEU is urging colleagues around the world to call out the fact that the severity of the bushfires is a direct result of climate change, and that any serious response must include a comprehensive approach to tackle the climate crisis both in Australia and around the globe.
CAUT and the NTEU have as one their core values the principle of sticking together and supporting each other in times of hardship. Please take a moment to show your solidary with all our Australian colleagues and communities affected by this disaster.
(Ottawa – January 15, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) condemns recent violent police and government attacks at three of India’s leading universities: Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
Over the past month, police and government-backed thugs have beaten students and teachers, and used tear gas and rubber bullets to quell peaceful protests over recent changes to citizenship laws and proposals calling for national registration of all citizens. The changes have fueled fears that Muslims in India will face discrimination by the right-wing Hindu-majority government.
“Peaceful protesters have been brutally attacked while police have also refused to allow medical assistance for badly injured victims,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “We condemn these illegal tactics in the strongest terms, and urge the Indian government to immediately reconsider its proposals which are the root cause fueling the protests.”
The harsh attacks have led to solidarity protests across India with at least 29 universities and colleges joining. Additionally, general public protests have erupted in support of the students, and a January 8 nationwide general strike, also in support of the students and specifically anti-government, involved up to 250 million participants, including trade unions, students and farmers.
(Ottawa – January 15, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is concerned about the state of labour relations at UNBC and is urging the institution to agree to an external independent review.
“In my many years of experience with CAUT, I can say without hesitation that I have not come across a more difficult and acrimonious labour relations environment than exists at UNBC today,” wrote CAUT executive director David Robinson in a letter to the Chair of the UNBC Board of Governors.
Read the full letter here.
(Ottawa – January 8, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) wishes to express heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of the 176 victims involved in a horrific air crash that occurred earlier today in Iran.
Media reports suggest that the 63 Canadians on the flight included Edmontonian Mojgan Daneshmand, and her husband Pedram Mousavi, both engineering faculty at the University of Alberta.
Daneshmand was an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Radio Frequency Microsystems for Communications and Sensing, while Mousavi was a professor of mechanical engineering. Their daughters Daria and Dorina were with them and also perished.
Other Canadians on the flight were from British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario. The University of Ottawa has confirmed that three students were aboard the Ukraine International Airlines flight, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Iran's capital of Tehran on its way to Kyiv.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on Pakistani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Junaid Hafeez, a 33-year-old lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan.
After being targeted by an Islamist group for his “liberal” teachings, Hafeez was charged with blasphemy over a series of Facebook postings. He was arrested in March 2013, and has been held in solitary confinement since June 2014. In December 2019, he was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court.
“Professor Hafeez’s case represents a serious violation of internationally-recognized human rights and academic freedom,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Pakistani authorities must immediately release him from custody and drop all charges.”
Robinson notes that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been widely criticized for being overly broad and repressive, and have been used to target religious minorities and activists.
According to rights groups, more than 1,500 blasphemy cases were reported in Pakistan between 1987 and 2017. During this time, more than 75 people accused of blasphemy were killed extra-judicially.
“The government of Pakistan must repeal the blasphemy laws,” adds Robinson.
(Ottawa – December 12, 2019) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is expressing concern over the University of Montreal’s decision to choose a closed search process for its new president.
In a letter (in French only) to the Chancellor, CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith notes that it is very disturbing that the short list could include candidates who will be kept secret from the University community. “It is also troubling to see that the Senate will not be consulted before establishing this short-list and that there will be no public forum for the community to question the potential candidates or for the candidates to present their program and vision,” writes Austin-Smith.
CAUT is calling on Chancellor Louis Roquet to revoke the decision so the Senate can be part of the process to short-list candidates, and to make the list of candidates publicly available. CAUT is also urging the University to organize a public forum with each candidate so that the University community can learn about each candidate’s vision for the future of the University of Montreal.
For more information, please contact:
Valérie Dufour, Director of Communications, CAUT, 613-293-1810 or email@example.com
Today marks 30 years since the massacre at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal when 14 women were senselessly and violently murdered. On this December 6, we remember Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colga, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.
Their deaths prompted Parliament to designate this date as The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, when Canadians honour the memory of the 14, and those who continue to experience gender-based violence.
Until this year, the memorial plaque near the site of the murders did not mention that anyone was killed — instead referring to a “tragic event” — nor the fact that 14 women were gunned down simply because they were women. A new, recently erected plaque now states clearly that the women were killed in an antifeminist act, and explicitly condemns all forms of violence against women.
Naming and condemning gender-based violence is a concrete action against the disproportionate violence that women, girls and LGBTQ2 individuals continue to face every day. CAUT supports the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an international campaign that runs annually from November 25 to December 10, which calls on each of us to share the concrete actions we are taking in our own communities and in our own lives to question, call out, and speak up against acts of gender-based violence.
(Ottawa – December 3, 2019) The theme of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities centres around promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership. Disability is a cross-cutting issue and this theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.
Achieving equity, diversity and inclusion in post-secondary education is fundamental to its excellence. Yet, despite institutional principles and employment equity and human rights legislation, there is a paucity of data on academic staff with disabilities, making it difficult to identify and address discrimination and barriers in the academic workplace.
Drawing from the limited data available through the Canadian Survey on Disability, CAUT estimates that one in five academic staff are living with disabilities with pain and mental health-related disability among the most prevalent. The proportion of women with disabilities in academia is less than either men with disabilities or women without disabilities, raising questions of equity.
It is clear that better efforts must be made at all levels to bring into focus the working experiences and conditions of people with disabilities in order to remove barriers and prevent occupational injuries and illnesses. Inclusive employment and education will remain elusive and at great cost to individuals, institutions and society without better workplace data on disabilities.
(Ottawa – November 21, 2019) The Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) has won an important legal battle in asserting the right to academic freedom across the country.
In December 2015, Dr. Michael Persinger was abruptly removed from teaching a psychology course after the administration received a student complaint. An arbitrator concluded that the administration violated the late professor’s rights.
“It was improper and contrary to the Collective Agreement for the University to have removed Dr. Persinger from teaching (…) and to have issued the related email (…) to students in that course and in doing so to have failed to consider Dr. Persinger’s academic freedom,” writes arbitrator Kevin Burkett in a consent award rendered on November 6.
The decision also binds the administration to follow a proper consultative process going forward and prior to the removal of a professor from the classroom, including assessing the responsibilities and duties of academics, and their right to a full and proper investigation. The University has also agreed to “not publicly invite complaints against faculty members, and (…) never again utilize a stand alone telephone number for complaints”.
“This is an important and precedent-setting award for academic staff across the country,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Academic freedom is a necessary condition for the free pursuit of knowledge and understanding.”
LUFA president Fabrice Colin added that the Association is “Pleased with the decision because it sends a strong signal to our members, but it is a bittersweet victory because Dr. Persinger is no longer with us. We are happy that the University has agreed to award a yearly scholarship in his name to celebrate Dr. Persinger’s internationally recognized contributions to neurosciences and the field of psychology. A staunch defender of academic freedom, Dr. Persinger also received prestigious awards for his teaching and research accomplishments.”
Media contacts : Valérie Dufour, Director of Communications, Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), 613-293-1810
Fabrice Colin, President, Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) 705-698-6763
(Ottawa – November 19, 2019) An investigation into the suspension of Dr. Derek Pyne by Thompson Rivers University (TRU) has concluded that the administration’s actions breached academic freedom.
The committee of investigation, established by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), found that TRU “appears to suffer a broad institutional weakness when it comes to understanding academic freedom.”
The investigation looked into actions taken in July 2018 by the administration to suspend Dr. Pyne and bar him from campus. Dr. Pyne found himself at the centre of controversy for his research into the use of deceptive journals by administrators and academics at TRU, and for his public criticism of the University and his department, the School of Business and Economics.
The committee notes that the right of academics to criticize their administration and their institution is a widely recognized feature of academic freedom. However, the committee found that at TRU there was a failure to understand academic freedom beyond a “narrow application to support faculty members’ freedom to pursue what they expect to be fruitful avenues of research and publish their results.”
“Our investigation finds that the TRU Administration’s approach in managing workplace complaints against Dr. Pyne failed to properly consider his academic freedom as it applies to his…criticisms of the School of Business and Economics, its administrators and its faculty,” the committee concludes.
The committee makes a number of recommendations, including removing the constraints placed on Dr. Pyne’s speech as a condition of his continuing employment as a faculty member.
The members of the investigatory committee were Dr. Mark Mac Lean, Professor of Mathematics, University of British Columbia (Chair); and Carla Graebner, Librarian for Data Services and Government Information, Simon Fraser University.
Media contact: Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c)
(Ottawa – November 18, 2019) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is condemning the violent siege of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University by police authorities.
“Hong Kong police forces have launched military-style attacks against protesters on the two campuses, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at people trying to flee and preventing medical personnel from assisting the injured,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Attacks on educational institutions are always unacceptable and in this instance are fueling the flames of violence when authorities should be exercising restraint.”
According to reports, hundreds of students have been injured in the police attacks. At CUHK, which has 20,000 students, witnesses say the police raid seemed deliberately provocative, as there was no campus protest before the police launched their assault.
Amnesty International has reported that Hong Kong police forces are using indiscriminate brutality and torture against pro-democracy protesters.
“The latest developments represent an intolerable breach of human rights,” said Robinson. “CAUT and its members demand that Hong Kong authorities immediately end their indiscriminate and violent attacks on protesters, and respect the rights and freedoms of citizens as guaranteed by international standards.”
(Prince George — 15 November 2019) Marking the end of the first week of a labour dispute at the University of Northern British Columbia, members of the CAUT Defence Fund flying pickets from across the country are in Prince George today to show solidarity with their colleagues fighting for a fair contract. “We are here to show our unconditional support.
The UNBC faculty association’s negotiating team is working hard to obtain a fair deal for their members, but the administration is still demanding unacceptable concessions on maternity and parental leave, on job protections for contract instructors, and on tenure and promotion,” explains CAUT Treasurer, Yalla Sangaré.
UNBC offers amongst the lowest salaries across the country for assistant, associate and full professors.
“This job action action can be over soon if the administration withdraws its concessionary demands and negotiates a deal that recognizes and respects the important work that academic staff do for their students and their community,” added Sangaré.
For updates and to send letters of support, go to unbcfa.ca
(Ottawa – November 7, 2019) Members of the University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association (UNBC-FA) are on strike after negotiations with the employer broke off earlier today. Picket lines are up at the UNBC campuses in Prince George and Terrace.
Faculty Association president Stephen Rader says the employer is demanding concessions on maternity/parental leave, seniority/right of first refusal, and tenure and promotion.
"The faculty association is disappointed to find our members on the picket line again, and remains committed to negotiating a fair contract."
(Ottawa – October 22, 2019) Faculty associations at Cape Breton, Northern British Columbia, and Algoma Universities are preparing for possible strike action failing resolution in their current negotiations.
Members of the Cape Breton University Faculty Association (CBUFA) voted overwhelmingly last week in support of a strike after negotiations stalled. Unresolved issues include fair teaching and research support and wages. The parties have filed for conciliation. “While frustrating, this is not surprising,” CBUFA president Calvin Howley said. “Stalled negotiations have become common practice not only at CBU but at other Nova Scotia universities.”
For Algoma (AUFA), OPSEU local 685 members have voted 86% in favour of a strike on October 11 and the parties are in conciliation. Issues that remain in dispute are wages, the employer asking contract academic staff to commit to an extra 24 hrs per course for office hours without any extra pay, and the employer wants to significantly reduce the free tuition benefit.
The members of the University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association (UNBC-FA) have given their bargaining team an 84.2% strike mandate. The employer is demanding concessions on maternity/parental leave, seniority/right of first refusal, and tenure and promotion.
(Ottawa – October 4, 2019) Tomorrow is World Teachers’ Day (WTD) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) joins with the global education community in celebrating the many accomplishments of the teaching profession, and highlighting the need to ensure the profession is attractive to and supportive of new teachers.
“The success of education at all levels rests upon the foundation of a highly qualified, talented and committed teaching corps,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Today, particularly in Canada’s colleges and universities, the growth of precarious and insecure academic jobs is undermining the attractiveness of academic work and turning away young talent at a time where there is a pressing need for faculty renewal.”
CAUT is urging governments in Canada to make faculty renewal and decent work a core priority, and to adhere fully to the principles of fair employment embodied in both the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and the UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel (1997).
(Ottawa – September 19, 2019) September 20 marks the beginning of the Week of Climate Action, an international grassroots movement of student activists demanding that world leaders be held accountable for and take immediate steps to combat the climate emergency facing the planet. A week of activities around the world will culminate in a Global Climate Strike on September 27. The Canadian Association of University Teachers stands in solidarity with all those taking part in the Week of Climate Action and the Global Climate Strike, and we join in demanding strong, immediate and effective action on climate change from governments in Canada and around the world.
Climate change is the crisis of our generation. CAUT encourages all its members to take part in the Week of Climate Action by joining local protests and events, supporting students who participate in the climate strike, pressing our institutions to adopt climate-friendly policies and practices, and raising awareness about the science of climate change and the role academic staff as researchers and teachers are playing in finding solutions.
(Ottawa – September 2, 2019) Results from a national survey* commissioned by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) indicate that a large majority of Canadians value post-secondary education (PSE) and think cost should not be allowed to prevent anyone from pursuing it.
Key findings include:
- Almost 8 in 10 Canadians agree that students have to borrow too much to pay for their PSE and the cost should never prevent anyone from pursuing an education;
- Similarly, almost all Canadians (93%) would get a post-secondary degree if they did not have to pay tuition, confirming how much they value the education and recognize the barrier that cost creates;
- Eight in ten say the effort and time spent getting a higher education is worthwhile, but only 65% think it is worth the cost, and only 31% definitely think so;
- When informed that one in three PS instructors teach part-time or are on short-term contracts, over half believe this hurts the quality of education.
“The cost of PSE remains a major hurdle for students and Canadians don’t like it. But the problem is deeper than that and survey respondents recognized that fact,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “As governments have reduced funding for universities and colleges, more and more low-paid and tenuously-employed teachers have replaced full-time academics who are invested in the academic integrity of the institutions where they work. This is hurting the quality of education that students receive.”
CAUT is calling on all federal political parties to support PSE the way most Canadians want the government to support it, by:
- Ensuring that every student who wants to go to college or university can go, regardless of their ability to pay (84%);
- Investing more in full-time post-secondary teaching positions (85%);
- Reducing class sizes at colleges and universities (64%);
- Eliminating post-secondary tuition entirely (61%).
Media contact: Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c)
*Methodology – the survey was conducted online with 1500 Canadian residents aged 18 and over, from April 24-30. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random-sample of the same size is +/- 2.53%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment and region. Totals may not add up due to rounding.
Canadians will head to the polls on October 21 and CAUT has prepared tools for its member associations to engage in the upcoming federal election campaign.
CAUT’s For Our Future campaign is an issue-based and non-partisan campaign with two goals:
1. To raise awareness about the positive role the federal government could play in strengthening the post-secondary education (PSE) system; and
2. To get out the student vote for education.
Once the Fall academic semester starts, we will have just under two months to make post-secondary education an election priority. It is essential that we hit the ground running in September.
In the kit, you will find:
- Key messages about the campaign;
- Steps to help develop your campaign;
- Action ideas, tips and resources for engaging members and students in the federal election, and reaching out to candidates; and
Access the kit here.
Post-secondary education changes lives and Canada for the better. Through teaching, research and service to the community, Canada’s academic staff, scientists and researchers are key partners in addressing the climate emergency and other economic and social challenges. Canadians need a strong federal partner to work with the provinces to make sure that we have a sustainable research ecosystem, and affordable education for all.
Read our submission here.
(Ottawa – July 31, 2019) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is welcoming today’s announcement that an agreement has been reached to ensure more robust equity targets, transparency, and accountability within the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program.
Today’s settlement builds upon recent government changes to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion in the CRC program, and caps a process started in 2003 by eight academics who, with the support of CAUT, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission over the program’s failure to reflect the diversity of Canada’s university researchers.
“Canada’s research community owes much to the eight women who came forward 15 years ago to challenge systemic bias in the CRC program and who persevered in holding the program to account,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Over the past four years, the government has ushered in several initiatives aimed at increasing equity, diversity, and inclusion within the research and university sectors, and today’s settlement helps to further advance that work.”
The new agreement establishes a ten-year framework for the CRC program to reflect the diversity of the Canadian population, setting institutional targets for the representation of women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples. Additionally, the under-representation of members of the LGBTQ+ community will be addressed for the first time.
“This is an important step towards ensuring that the Canadian research field both reflects Canada’s rich diversity and benefits from the talent and perspectives of those who were previously denied a seat at the table,” says the Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Marie-Claude Landry.
Consistent with other recent changes, today’s announced settlement enhances accountability mechanisms for institutions that fail to consistently meet targets.
“The changes being made to the CRC program recognize that under-representation arises not from a lack of qualified candidates but from discriminatory and exclusionary principles or practices in society and in academia itself,” says Robinson. “By addressing these barriers we can better encourage excellence, innovation, and fairness in the research environment.”
The women academics who initially challenged the CRC program before the Canadian Human Rights Commission with the legal representation of CAUT are: Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Louise Forsyth, Glenis Joyce, Audrey Kobayashi, Shree Mulay, Susan Prentice, and the late Wendy Robbins and Michèle Ollivier.
Media Contact: Valérie Dufour, Director of Communications, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-293-1810 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org
Backgrounder statements by some of the complainants:
“I am thrilled that this settlement addresses all the gaps in the 2006 settlement”
- Shree Mulay
“Too often, equity and diversity initiatives have been restricted to availability in a currently discriminatory pipeline. Under this new agreement, the Canada Research Chairs Program will move quickly towards reflecting the full and actual diversity of Canada. This is a path-changing understanding, for universities and other Canadian institutions.”
- Susan Prentice
“This exciting agreement will change for the better what we know or think we know about ourselves, the natural world and the people in our world. It will throw doors open to everyone and welcome ways of seeing/thinking/being that have not yet found their place in schools, colleges and universities.”
- Louise Forsyth
“When the agreement is in full force, the representation of the groups named will reflect their representation within the Canadian population – not just their representation in universities. This is a significant expansion of the concept of equality and something that has the power to effect significant change, especially if it is expanded to other groups and applied more widely in public institutions in the future."
- Marjorie Griffin Cohen