Canadian Association of University Teachers

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Laurentian University campus sign

(Ottawa – May 1, 2023) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) welcomes today’s announcement that the federal government will consult Canadians on how to protect the public interest when public post-secondary institutions face insolvency.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the Liberal government is making good on its promise to close the loophole that allowed the Laurentian University administration to bypass traditional ways of managing financial difficulties,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “As the Auditor-General of Ontario noted in her report on Laurentian, invoking corporate insolvency laws was unnecessary, inappropriate, and damaging to the public mission of the university.”

Laurentian University received insolvency protection on February 1, 2021, under the federal Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). That process resulted in the cancellation of 69 programs and the loss of nearly 200 faculty and staff positions.

“Corporate insolvency legislation was never intended to be used by public institutions like Laurentian,” said Robinson. “We know that the university administration had other options, including provincial assistance, but chose instead to let their staff and students pay for the cost of gross financial mismanagement.”

“The federal consultation is a step in the right direction,” added Robinson. “Canada’s insolvency laws are misaligned with the goals of public universities and colleges. Post-secondary education is a public good that educates and trains students, promotes democracy, and provides vital research. These goals are incompatible with the commercial aims of the CCAA.”

Author: berman
Posted: May 1, 2023, 8:55 pm

CAUT Advocate

Highlights from CAUT's 94th Council meeting

From April 20 to 22, delegates to CAUT’s governing Council met in Ottawa to discuss priorities, elect leadership, and celebrate the collective achievements of members. 

  • CAUT president reaffirms commitment to CCAA advocacy
  • CAUT elects executive committee
  • Former LUFA staff fundraise for those in financial distress
  • Concern over CSIS on campus
  • CAUT defends academic freedom in the classroom and on campus
  • In solidarity with PSAC
  • Association of McGill Professors of Law becomes CAUT member
  • Lessons learned on the picket lines
  • Legislation targets tenure and academic freedom in the U.S.
  • Perspectives on academic freedom in Quebec
  • Honouring our activists

CAUT president reaffirms commitment to CCAA advocacy 

In his opening remarks, CAUT president Peter McInnis noted the Liberal government has not yet fulfilled its promise to amend the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) to exclude public institutions. He informed Council delegates that the government will announce a quick consultation on the matter and that CAUT will use the occasion to step its campaign to ensure there is no repeat of the Laurentian crisis.    

McInnis expressed outrage at the ongoing attacks on tenure, academic freedom and equity in the United States and warned that we should not be complacent in Canada. Academic staff associations need strength and stamina to confront this tough reality, he said, asserting the importance of collective action to achieve wins. 

He noted that academic staff in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand have engaged in unprecedented strike action, fighting for fair wages, working conditions, equity and more. McInnis also reaffirmed CAUT’s commitment to support unions seeking to protect academic freedom internationally.  

“Canada upholds some of most important protections of academic freedom in the world,” he said. “These freedoms must extend to international colleagues.” 


CAUT elects executive committee 

Absent from photo: Larry Savage (Brock University Faculty Association), chair of Collective Bargaining and Organizing Committee.

Delegates to CAUT’s 94th Council returned all members of the executive committee for 2023-2024, with the exception of Chair of the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee whose term limit was reached. 

Michael Arfken was elected as the new Chair of the Committee. Michael is the president and chief grievance officer for the University of Prince Edward Island Faculty Association (UPEIFA). 

The full membership of the CAUT Executive Committee for 2023-2024 will be posted on the CAUT website soon. 


Former LUFA staff fundraise for those in financial distress 

Former Laurentian University academic staff who lost their jobs or were forced to retire as a result of the institution’s insolvency have launched a fundraising appeal for those experiencing financial hardship. The Laurentian Fired Faculty April 12 Distress Fund is seeking donations to help with basic living costs. Donations can be made by credit card online or cheques payable to CAUT c/o The April 12 Distress Fund can be mailed to the CAUT office. 


Concern over CSIS on campus

CAUT executive director David Robinson warned delegates about the government’s requirement for new security risk assessments for research collaborations involving foreign companies. Robinson said that the policy is particularly concerning for academics who have research partnerships with Chinese institutions and academics or are of Chinese descent.  

Robinson added that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has been contacting institutions and academic staff. He cautioned members about speaking to CSIS without first consulting with their academic staff association and CAUT to obtain legal advice. 


CAUT defends academic freedom in the classroom and on campus 

CAUT executive director David Robinson discussed several recent cases of academic staff facing discipline for comments or behaviour deemed to be offensive, particularly in courses addressing racism and Indigenization. 

Equity efforts and free expression are not mutually exclusive, he noted, expressing concern that the debate is increasingly being framed as a zero-sum competition between these two values. Robinson emphasized that academic freedom is not a defence against legally defined harassment and discrimination, but cautioned against the temptation to censor those who are merely disagreeable or offensive. 


In solidarity with PSAC 

Daniel O’Donnell, University of Lethbridge Faculty Association, made an emergency motion for CAUT Council to support the strike of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). CAUT voted unanimously in favour of the motion. 

Many delegates joined the picket line on Parliament Hill during a Council break on Friday to show solidarity with the public service workers. See CAUT’s statement of support.  


Association of McGill Professors of Law becomes CAUT member 

CAUT Council unanimously approved the Association of McGill Professors of Law (AMPL) application for CAUT membership. 


Lessons learned on the picket lines 

In a roundtable discussion, leaders of four academic staff associations spoke about the lessons learned during strike actions at their institutions. They underlined that solidarity from the community and other unions was the key ingredient that motivated and kept their members on the picket lines. The group emphasized the need for unions to have clear and frequent communications around their demands. 

Michael Arfken, president of the University of Prince Edward Island Faculty Association (UPEIFA), stated that the key to success for their union was the ability to keep members motivated while steering the negotiation process toward settlement. The administration’s strategy at UPEI, he said, was to force binding arbitration. 

Ashrafee Hossain, president of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association (MUNFA), said their “best weapon” was their communication and media outreach strategies. MUNFA developed key messages ahead of time to stay focused on winning the hearts and minds of students and on keeping collegial governance at the forefront of discussions. 

Chantale Jeanrie, vice-president of the Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université Laval, noted that their union consulted the members ahead of time and was ready for negotiations when their collective agreement expired. The union’s demands were organized around four main pillars, including collegial governance and precarity. 

Adango Miadonye, president of the Cape Breton University Faculty Association (CBUFA), recounted their union’s determination to continue striking for as long as necessary, in the face of the administration’s delay tactics, which sought to “bankrupt” the association. As many faculty members work from overseas, the union sought to accommodate this online workforce through virtual picketing. 


Legislation targets tenure and academic freedom in the United States  

In a keynote address, Samuel Dunietz of the National Education Association spoke about how American unions are pushing back against political threats to academic freedom in the United States. He said that Florida and Texas are hotbeds of hastily assembled, anti-union legislation, seeking to gut tenure, remove equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) offices and initiatives, and imperil academic freedom at public universities. He added that the bills are designed to erode the rights of faculty and create an alternate system where administrations have all the decision-making power. 

Dunietz spoke about how Senate Bill 18 in Texas bans tenure for new faculty hires. He mentioned Senate Bill 16, which was approved by legislators, that has the stated purpose of barring academics from forcing students to adopt certain beliefs. Dunietz also noted that House Bill 999 in Florida was an attempt to shut down courses and programs on critical race theory (CRT) and gender theory. The bill also targets funding for EDI programs. 

Dunietz indicated that U.S. academic unions have forcefully responded to the slate of legislative attacks on the profession by ramping up internal organizing efforts and infrastructure at the state and national levels. He added that solidarity is needed now more than ever. The ability for academic staff and higher education to innovate and be free is necessary for a free society, he concluded.  


Perspectives on academic freedom in Quebec

Dyala Hamza, the second vice-chair of the Syndicat général des professeurs et professeures de l’Université de Montréal (SGPUM) spoke about the polarization of the debate on academic freedom in Quebec, in a context where the government does not officially acknowledge systemic racism. She noted that the denial of systemic racism compromises efforts to promote equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) principles, and the defence of academic freedom. This situation also means that researchers can’t effectively tackle systemic racism, she added. 

“We should identify and address racism and discrimination in all its forms. We should no longer allow the perception of academic freedom as a privilege. It is a right, same as freedom of expression and freedom of the press.” 


Honouring our activists

The Censure UofT group received the CAUT Milner Memorial Award in recognition of their efforts defending academic freedom. The group was formed following the controversy involving a donor’s interference in the hiring of the director of the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto. The group organized around the CAUT censure of the university administration and garnered attention and solidarity from academics across the country and internationally.  

The members of the Censure UofT group include Melanie Newton, Joe Carens, Mohammad Maile, Ariel Katz, Anver Emon, Alissa Trotz, Deb Cowen, Audrey Macklin, Ruth Marshall, Abigail Bakan, Melissa Williams, David Schneiderman, Denise Reaume, Judith Taylor, Jeffrey MacIntosh, Samer Muscati, Vincent Wong, Emily Albert, Trudo Lemmens, Rupaleem Bhuyan, and Malavika Kasturi. 

Kathleen Nichol of Brandon University and Chantal M. Dion of Carleton University received the Sarah Shorten Award for their achievements in advancing women’s equity. Kathleen Nichol is recognized for her work towards achieving gender equity at Brandon University and Chantal M. Dion for her work on the advancement of women at Carleton.  

Council voted unanimously to present the Equity Award to Dawn Moore of the Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA). Moore was described as a champion for equity and for fighting for marginalized groups. 

Council voted unanimously to award an honorary CAUT membership to retiring Speaker Ted Montgomery, in recognition of his contributions to the academic labour movement and longstanding service to CAUT. 

Author: gagne
Posted: May 1, 2023, 8:03 pm

On April 28, the National Day of Mourning, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) remembers workers who died, were injured, or were made ill in the workplace.

In 2021, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 1,081 workers in Canada died on the job.

As unions gather around Canada to observe this solemn day, CAUT joins workers and their families in recommitting to the fight to prevent further workplace tragedies.

With Canada’s unions, we stand for strong occupational health and safety regulation and enforcement. We will continue to press employers and governments to ensure that health and safety is a fundamental right at work.

Author: gagne
Posted: April 28, 2023, 12:30 pm

(Ottawa – April 25, 2023) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is appalled by the recent conviction of Canadian academic Hassan Diab by a French court.

In 2008, Dr. Diab was teaching at Carleton University in Ottawa when he was first arrested. Despite Canada’s extradition court finding the case against him to be weak, he was eventually extradited to France for his alleged role in a Paris synagogue bombing in 1980 that killed four people and injured several others.

In 2018, Dr. Diab was released and returned to live with his family in Canada after a court found significant exculpatory evidence. This week, French prosecutors tried the case again.

“It is outrageous that the French court has found Dr. Diab guilty solely on the basis of what was previously determined to be faulty and unreliable evidence,” said David Robinson, CAUT executive director.

Dr. Diab has always denied the allegations against him. Handwriting analysis allegedly identifying him as the bomber was discredited. University records and witnesses place him in Lebanon writing exams when the bombing took place in Paris.

“Hassan Diab endured solitary confinement in a French prison for three years, separation from his family, damage to his professional career, and years of legal battles,” said Robinson. “We urge the Government of Canada to refuse any new extradition request from France.”

Support CAUT’s calls by sending a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at https://iclmg.ca/diab-letter/

Author: gagne
Posted: April 25, 2023, 12:27 pm

(Ottawa – April 20, 2023) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) voted unanimously to support striking members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). During its 94th Council meeting, CAUT member associations passed an emergency motion to stand with PSAC workers seeking fair working conditions and fair pay.

“We urge the government to negotiate a deal that addresses the concerns members have about job security, good working conditions and inclusive workplaces,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “These critical government workers deserve our respect.”

PSAC is Canada’s largest federal public service union, representing nearly 230,000 workers in every province and territory in Canada, including more than 120,000 federal public service workers employed by the Treasury Board, and more than 35,000 employed by the Canada Revenue Agency. 

For locations of picket lines across Canada, visit PSAC’s picket line finder tool.

Author: gagne
Posted: April 20, 2023, 8:01 pm

(Ottawa – April 19, 2023) Bill C-228, a private member’s bill that gives pension plan members priority in a company insolvency, is set to become law after passing the Senate.

David Robinson, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), welcomed the changes.

“Employee pensions aren’t just a line item on a balance sheet. They represent decades of savings by workers who deserve to be treated as more than just another creditor,” said Robinson.

The bill amends the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) to protect employee pensions during an insolvency. The CCAA was invoked at Laurentian University in 2021 after years of financial mismanagement that saw employees lose pension, termination and severance pay.

An amendment to Bill C-228 to protect termination and severance failed.

“The next steps are to protect severance and termination pay for all workers and exempt public post-secondary institutions from the CCAA completely. Before Laurentian University used it, it was unheard of that insolvency law would be applied to a public institution like a university,” said Robinson. “The Liberals committed to this in the last election but have yet to deliver on their promise.”

Author: gagne
Posted: April 19, 2023, 12:51 pm

CAUT congratulates the University of Prince Edward Island Faculty Association (UPEIFA) on reaching a tentative agreement with the UPEI administration.

After a month of job action to secure mental health benefits, an increase in the number of full-time faculty, and improved wages, UPEIFA members have reached a negotiated settlement to end the strike.

Support from academic staff associations from across the country was high. CAUT Defence Fund members joined the picket lines to show solidarity with UPEIFA members.

Author: gagne
Posted: April 14, 2023, 8:04 pm

Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on March 31, 2023. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

In this issue:

  • Post-secondary institutions still unprotected, largely excluded from 2023 federal budget 
  • Academic staff meet in-person to discuss ‘post-pandemic’ bargaining and organizing
  • Bargaining and job action updates
  • Apply today – J.H. Stewart Reid Memorial Fellowship for Doctoral Studies
  • Obituary: Carla Lipsig-Mummé

Post-secondary institutions still unprotected, largely excluded from 2023 federal budget 

The federal budget did not make needed investments in post-secondary education or protect colleges and universities from corporate insolvency. 

Find CAUT’s analysis of the federal budget on our website.

CAUT hoped that the government would invest in research and graduate student scholarships, increase transfers to the provinces to support affordable post-secondary education, and exclude public universities and colleges from the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. As tuition fees and the cost of living continue to rise, CAUT recommended that the budget permanently doubles the value of the Canada Student Grant. Moreover, this budget supplies no new operating funding nor investments in basic research. 

Budget 2023 highlights for post-secondary education 

  • Increasing Canada Student Grants by 40% in 2023-2024 
  • Raising the interest-free Canada Student Loan limit from $210 to $300 per week of study 
  • Waiving the requirement for mature students, aged 22 years or older, to undergo credit screening to qualify for federal student grants and loans for the first time 
  • $197.7 million in 2024-2025 to extend the Student Work Placement Program 
  • $108.6 million over three years, starting in 2023-2024, to expand the College and Community Innovation Program 

Academic staff meet in-person to discuss ‘post-pandemic’ bargaining and organizing 

CAUT held its first in-person Collective Bargaining and Organizing Forum in March after a three-year pandemic hiatus. More than 70 academic staff from 36 faculty associations and nine provinces attended. 

In a keynote address, Robert Hickey, an associate professor of industrial relations at Queen’s University, spoke about how academic unions can shift beyond protecting against concessions towards emphasizing gains, bargaining for the common good, and promoting wins for the most disadvantaged in our unions. 

Academic staff took part in discussion groups and panels on collective bargaining and organizing, with conversations on how unions address the erosion of collegial decision-making, health and safety, equity, workload, and wage gains in the context of high inflation. 

Kevin MacKay, vice president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO) Local 240, presented the findings of OPSEU/SEFPO’s survey on work to rule as a job action strategy in Ontario colleges. 

Member News

Bargaining and job action updates

  • Members of the Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université Laval (SPUL) voted overwhelmingly to accept a tentative agreement brokered by a conciliator appointed by the Québec government. About 93% of SPUL members voted Wednesday evening to accept the deal. The union will make the details of the new collective agreement public in the coming days. As the university’s Board of Directors also endorsed the deal, professors went back to work on March 30, with classes set to resume no later than April 3. SPUL members went on strike on February 20 for a fair contract. 
  • The University of Prince Edward Island Faculty Association (UPEIFA) members have been on strike for more than a week to secure mental health benefits, an increase in the number of full-time faculty, and improved wages. CAUT Defence Fund members landed in Charlottetown last Friday and joined the picket lines in solidarity with the UPEI faculty. UPEIFA members have also received the support of academic staff associations from across the country. 

Apply today – J.H. Stewart Reid Memorial Fellowship for Doctoral Studies 

The J.H. Stewart Reid Memorial Fellowship for Doctoral Studies is open for submissions until April 30. Visit stewartreid.caut.ca to apply and for more information. 

The J.H. Stewart Reid Memorial Fellowship Trust was founded to honour the memory of the first executive secretary of CAUT. Each year a fellowship for $5,000 is awarded, tenable for one year of a doctoral program in any field of study at a Canadian university. 


Obituary: Carla Lipsig-Mummé 

Professor Emerita Carla Lipsig-Mummé, who died peacefully on January 20, founded and led Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW) – a seven-year (2014-2021) Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) project.  

Her pioneering work as the principal ACW investigator influenced the release of Confronting Climate Change on Campus, CAUT’s three-step action plan, which academic staff associations and their members can use to reduce the carbon footprint of post-secondary institutions and fight climate change.  

Throughout her distinguished research and activism career, Lipsig-Mummé highlighted workplaces and work as major contributors to the greenhouse gas emissions created by human activity. She also brought together labour unions and academics to conduct ground-breaking research on work and workers’ justice. 

She retired in June 2022 after 32 years at York University. 

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Author: gagne
Posted: March 31, 2023, 6:08 pm

(Ottawa – March 30, 2023) Members of the Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université Laval (SPUL) voted overwhelmingly to accept a tentative agreement brokered by a conciliator appointed by the Québec government. 

About 93% of SPUL members voted Wednesday evening to accept the deal. The union will make the details of the new collective agreement public in the coming days. 

As the university’s Board of Directors also endorsed the deal, professors went back to work on March 30 with classes set to resume no later than April 3. SPUL members went on strike on February 20 for a fair contract. 

Author: gagne
Posted: March 31, 2023, 12:11 pm

The federal government tabled Budget 2023 on March 28th.  Roughly 70 per cent of the $43 billion in net new spending announced in this year's budget is earmarked for health and dental care over the next six years. The remainder is largely made up of a variety of tax credits to encourage companies to adopt clean technology and to help low-income Canadians during the affordability crisis.

Entitled “A Made-in-Canada Plan”, this is a likely response to pressure to compete with the Biden administration in the United States which has invested billions through its Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPs and Sciences Act.

Compete, on science and research, this budget does not.

Whereas the US legislation invested significantly in the National Science Foundation, for example, there is very little for science and research in Canada’s budget.

The College and Community Innovation Program, an applied research program administered by the National Science and Engineering Research Council, will see a bump of $108.6 million over three years, less than half of what was requested by the college sector.

There is also $59 million for the renewal of federal science and technology infrastructure as part of the Laboratories Canada program.

The budget references the recent Advisory Panel Report on Federal Research Support  but makes no additional commitments to the granting councils. This is despite intense pressure to build on the “research” budget of 2018 and up graduate student scholarships and fellowships which have not increased for almost twenty years.

Students overall saw $813.6 million in affordability measures in this budget, following on the Fall Economic Statement which eliminated interest on federal student loans. Calls to make permanent the pandemic doubling of the Canada Student Grant were only partially answered.  Budget 2023 commits to a 40 per cent increase to Canada Student Grants, raising the maximum grant to $4200 from the $3000 pre-pandemic amount.  To compensate for the $1800 drop in grant money that students will experience this year, Budget 2023 increases student loan limits, which will drive up student debt.  

Budget 2023 also increases limits on certain RESP withdrawals from $5,000 to $8,000 for full-time students, and from $2,500 to $4,000 for part-time students. The Canada Student Loan Forgiveness program will be expanded for eligible doctors and nurses who choose to practice in rural and remote communities. As well, the Student Work Placement Program will receive $197.7 million in 2024-25 to continue creating work-integrated learning opportunities.

Youth programs and skills training will be reviewed by Budget 2024, to determine what improvements can be made to help more Canadians develop the skills and receive the work experience they need to have successful careers.

Labour made some gains in addition to the national dental plan. Of note are proposed changes to the Canada Labour Code. While these apply for federally regulated workers, the changes can put positive upward pressure on provincial labour standards.  Budget 2023 promises:

  • Improved job protections for gig workers by strengthening prohibitions against employee misclassification.
  • A new stand-alone leave for workers who experience a pregnancy loss. This new leave will also apply to parents planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy.
  • Improved eligibility for leave related to the death or disappearance of a child.
  • The prohibition of the use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout.

A small window of possible funding support for universities and colleges in Budget 2023 is a $117 million commitment to the Action Plan for Official Languages, to support the training of bilingual nurses and personal support care workers and the promotion of French-language research, among other things.

For universities and colleges, which have not seen a notional increase to core funding since federal budget 2007, this budget is loud in its silence.  Other areas of public importance, such as pharmacare and housing, are also out in the cold in this recession-facing budget. CAUT will continue to advocate with the federal government the value of investing in public post-secondary education to create a “strong middle class, affordable economy [and a] healthy future” – the stated goals of this year’s budget.

CAUT will also continue to push for the government to act on its commitment to protect public post-secondary institutions from corporate restructuring. This promise was made by the Liberals following the Laurentian debacle and is reflected in the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry mandate letter.

Please take 2 minutes to send a letter to the Minister calling for action to remove public post-secondary institutions from corporate restructuring, by excluding them from the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. 

Author: gagne
Posted: March 29, 2023, 8:02 pm

(Ottawa – March 29, 2023) The federal budget failed to make needed investments in post-secondary education or protect colleges and universities from corporate insolvency, says the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).

In its pre-budget submission, CAUT recommended the government invest in research and graduate student scholarships, increase transfers to the provinces to support affordable post-secondary education, and that public universities and colleges be excluded from the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

“Laurentian University did not need to resolve its financial difficulties through a restructuring process designed for private companies that paid millions to lawyers and consultants while slashing programs and staff,” said Peter McInnis, president of CAUT. “We continue to call on the Liberals to make good on their 2021 election promise to exclude public universities and colleges from the CCAA.”

As tuition fees and the cost of living continue to rise, CAUT had hoped this budget would have maintained the doubling of the Canada Student Grant introduced during the pandemic. Moreover, this budget provided no new operating funding nor investments in basic research.

“Education and research are key to helping Canadians meet present and future challenges, whether the climate emergency or public health crisis,” said McInnis.

Budget highlights for post-secondary education

  • Increasing Canada Student Grants by 40% in 2023-2024
  • Raising the interest-free Canada Student Loan limit from $210 to $300 per week of study
  • Waiving the requirement for mature students, aged 22 years or older, to undergo credit screening to qualify for federal student grants and loans for the first time
  • $197.7 million in 2024-2025 to extend the Student Work Placement Program
  • $108.6 million over three years, starting in 2023-2024, to expand the College and Community Innovation Program
Author: gagne
Posted: March 29, 2023, 2:19 pm

(Ottawa – March 20, 2023) After months of negotiations, academic staff represented by the University of Prince Edward Island Faculty Association (UPEIFA) have taken to the picket lines to achieve a fair contract. The union is seeking to secure mental health benefits for members, increase the number of full-time faculty, and improve salaries.

“For the last ten months, we’ve encountered an employer who has taken little interest in addressing [members’] concerns and a provincial government who has been all too willing to intervene to the benefit of our employer,” said Michael Arfken, president and chief grievance officer of the UPEI Faculty Association in a statement.

The association says the employer’s latest offer failed to address the key issues affecting academic staff’s working conditions and students’ learning conditions.

In the last decade, enrolments at UPEI have increased 26% and tuition has risen 30%, but the number of full-time faculty has fallen by 1% according to an update released on March 6. This has led to increased class sizes and a greater number of courses taught by contract academic staff who have few benefits and supports.

The UPEIFA represents over 400 faculty members, librarians, sessional instructors, clinical nursing instructors and clinical veterinary professionals.

Author: gagne
Posted: March 20, 2023, 11:59 am

Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on February 28, 2023. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

In this issue:

  • CAUT pressures government to change CCAA
  • Activism for equity
  • Canadian post-secondary sector unites to protect fair dealing
  • Bargaining and job action updates

CAUT pressures government to change CCAA

More than two years after Laurentian University filed for bankruptcy protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), the repercussions are still being felt by current and former academic staff, students, and the Sudbury community. 

CAUT marked this anniversary by urging the Liberal government to follow through on its promise to exclude public post-secondary institutions from the CCAA. Though legislation has been introduced in both the House of Commons and Senate, it is unlikely that either will be passed into law without government support. 

As part of this ongoing campaign, CAUT is calling on members and the public to send letters to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry urging him to back legislation that would exclude public post-secondary institutions from the CCAA, action promised by Liberals in the last election.  

Send a letter


Activism for equity

“How do we get those who haven’t done so to embrace equity?” This was the question asked by CAUT President Peter McInnis as he welcomed participants in person and online to the Activism for Equity conference earlier this month.  

Throughout the conference, a key theme discussed by panelists and attendees was moving equity forward in associations and on campuses.  

On the first day, speakers on the opening panel recounted their efforts and victories furthering equity on their campuses. Two lawyers spoke about the power of unions to make gains for equity-deserving members. Throughout the day, participants also shared their own experiences and challenges, highlighting some of the most important barriers and bridges to change. 

Attendees had the chance to put everything they learned into practice the next day as they went through a real-life scenario and were asked to develop the different components of an equity campaign. Consult the CAUT Equity Toolkit for further resources. 


Canadian post-secondary sector unites to protect fair dealing

The week of February 20 marked the annual Fair Dealing Week, an international event that celebrates the importance of fair use and fair dealing provisions within copyright law.  

This year’s event also marked the launch of Fair Dealing Works, a coalition that brings together student leaders, post-secondary institutions, academic staff, and copyright experts and practitioners to stand up for educational fair dealing rights and call on the federal government to protect and expand fair dealing provisions in the Copyright Act. 

In a time when pressure is mounting from publishers and large corporations to roll back fair dealing rights, CAUT and its partners are calling on the Canadian public to send a letter to their Members of Parliament and the cabinet ministers who oversee copyright laws in Canada, asking them to protect educational fair dealing. 

Voice your support

Member News

Bargaining and job action updates

Several CAUT member associations have concluded or remain in contract negotiations. All updates are accurate at the time of this email: 

  • After failing to reach an agreement with l’Université Laval, the more than 1,300 members of the Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université Laval went on strike on February 20. Read CAUT’s statement
  • CUPE 3912 bargaining units representing contract academic staff at Saint Mary’s University and Mount Saint Vincent University have both ratified new agreements following conciliation. 
  • The Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union (SMUFU) reached an agreement and voted in favour of ratification. 
  • The Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association (MUNFA) reached a tentative agreement and voted in favour of ratification, following a two-week strike. 
  • The Cape Breton University Faculty Association (CBUFA) membership has ratified Cape Breton University’s most recent contract offer, following a strike. 
  • The University of Prince Edward Island Faculty Association (UPEIFA) is in negotiations and has voted in favour of strike action. 
  • The Association of Professors of Bishop’s University (APBU) has been bargaining four different collective agreements with the university over the last year.
  • Nipissing University Faculty Association (NUFA) contract academic staff have successfully ratified their tentative agreement. 
  • Following months of negotiations, the University of Victoria Faculty Association (UVICFA) ratified a tentative agreement under the BC government’s Shared Recovery Mandate.

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Author: gagne
Posted: February 28, 2023, 7:09 pm

(Ottawa – February 21, 2023) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on the federal government to expand fair dealing provisions in the Copyright Act that balance the needs of creators and users of copyrighted materials. Fair dealing allows users to copy materials for educational and research purposes, as well as other reasonable and fair circumstances, without first obtaining permission from copyright owners. 

“Fair dealing encourages learning, dissemination of knowledge, innovation, and the open exchange of ideas while respecting the work of others,” said David Robinson, executive director of CAUT. 

During Fair Dealing Week, an international event marked from February 20 to 24, CAUT is joining with students, copyright experts, and post-secondary institutions to stand up for user rights in copyright law. 

A balanced approach to copyright is critical, but recent developments are skewing rules in favour of copyright owners, noted Robinson. 

On January 1, 2023, the Canadian government enacted a 20-year freeze of the public domain as part of its trade agreement commitments with the U.S. and Mexico. 

As the government considers further copyright reforms, CAUT joins the post-secondary sector in uniting to protect educational fair dealing and ensure the quality and affordability of post-secondary education in Canada. 

The Fair Dealing Works campaign brings together: 

  • Universities Canada 
  • Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) 
  • Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) 
  • Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) 
  • Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) 
  • Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) 
  • Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) 

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For more information, please contact: 

Elizabeth Berman 
Senior Communications Officer, CAUT 
(613) 820-2270 ext. 105 
media@caut.ca

Author: gagne
Posted: February 22, 2023, 8:14 pm

(Ottawa – February 21, 2023) More than 1,300 members of the Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université Laval (SPUL) have taken to the picket lines this week in their campaign for a fair contract.

Key issues are workload and salary as well as protection for academic freedom, collegial governance, and complement. Over the past twenty years, the number of full-time faculty has been reduced by 11% while student enrolment has increased by 26%.

The union said it has made ongoing attempts to resolve the issues at the table.

“We even pushed back by a month the execution of our strike mandate. … Unfortunately, the employer has not taken advantage of these opportunities,” the SPUL said in a statement released last week.

Over 750 SPUL members participated in a rally Monday to kick off the association’s job action. Members had voted 96% in favour of strike action in January.

For more information, consult the SPUL website and press release.

Author: gagne
Posted: February 21, 2023, 8:38 pm

(February 9, 2023) The Athabasca University Faculty Association (AUFA) is condemning the Board of Governors for the sudden firing without cause of University President Peter Scott.

“The Board’s actions demonstrate a flagrant abuse of the search process and a disregard for collegial governance,” says AUFA President Rhiannon Rutherford.

Scott openly defied the provincial government’s direction to expand its physical presence in Athabasca. The provincial minister of advanced education intervened to replace the Board chair and appointed multiple new governors last spring.

Davina Bhandar, a faculty member and AUFA Constituency Representative, expressed concern that “the Board is not working in the best interests of the university but, instead, to further political gain for the governing party.”

“The [provincial] government’s interference in a public institution’s governance threatens institutional autonomy, disrupts and undermines continuity of governance, drains the confidence and morale of students and staff, wastes inordinate money and time, and has made the Board’s composition less diverse,” AUFA said in a statement.

Author: gagne
Posted: February 9, 2023, 6:23 pm

(Ottawa – January 31, 2023) The Canadian Association of University Teachers is criticizing the University of Lethbridge administration for cancelling a planned talk on campus.

In a letter issued today to the University’s President, Michael Mahon, CAUT says the talk by Dr. Frances Widdowson should have been allowed to proceed.

The decision to cancel the event “raises serious concerns about the University of Lethbridge’s commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom,” the letter states.

CAUT notes that while many profoundly disagree with Dr. Widdowson’s views, a university should “welcome controversial speakers and vigorous debate, not seek to restrict discourse or speakers.”

CAUT is the national voice of more than 72,000 academic and professional staff at 120 colleges and universities.

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Dear President Mahon:

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is deeply concerned about your decision to cancel a planned talk on campus by Dr. Frances Widdowson. Your actions raise serious concerns about the University of Lethbridge’s commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom.

The foundational role of a university is aptly captured in the University of Toronto’s Statement of Institutional Purpose:

Within the unique university context, the most crucial of all human rights are the rights of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of research. And we affirm that these rights are meaningless unless they entail the right to raise deeply disturbing questions and provocative challenges to the cherished beliefs of society at large and of the university itself.

Dr. Widdowson certainly does raise disturbing and provocative questions. While many profoundly disagree with her, a university should welcome controversial speakers and vigorous debate, not seek to restrict discourse or speakers.

The University of Lethbridge owes its academic community an assurance that it will not act in ways contrary to its foundational purpose of supporting, fostering, and defending freedom of expression and academic freedom.

Sincerely,

David Robinson
Executive Director

Author: gagne
Posted: February 1, 2023, 1:24 pm

(Ottawa – February 1, 2023) Laurentian University filed for insolvency protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) on February 1, 2021. Two years later – after job losses, program cuts, and plummeting enrollment – the people most affected are speaking out about the personal costs of a corporate bankruptcy process.

Dr. Valérie Raymond, a former professor in the French studies department, was informed she would lose her full-time, permanent position days before giving birth to her first child.

“The stress, anxiety and fear that this loss brought on at that point in my pregnancy are indescribable,” she said. “The CCAA process the university used robbed my family of our financial security when I not only I lost my maternity leave, but also was denied the appropriate severance pay that was owed to me.”  

Born and raised in Sudbury, Dr. Raymond is now back at Laurentian, working as a contract employee. “I found it very difficult to go back to this same institution that destroyed my career and denied me my approved, paid maternity leave,” she said. “I returned because I’m still passionate about teaching and this French-language program is so important to our community. I’m teaching the same courses as before, only at a much lower pay grade, without any health benefits for me or my family and, of course, without any job security.” 

“Faculty at all stages of their careers have paid dearly for the callous choices made by Laurentian’s former leadership,” said Fabrice Colin, President of the Laurentian University Faculty Association. “The effects continue to reverberate through the community and economy in Sudbury and across Northern Ontario. And, even though we were promised change by the federal government, we have yet to see action. The CCAA must be fixed before this happens to another community.”   

Rather than lose his job outright, Dr. Frank Mallory, a former chair of the biology department, was pressured to retire.

For the sake of his students and his children, he accepted. “At the time I was supervising seven graduate students. I’m still working for free so that my remaining two students can complete their studies,” he said. “I had four young children, so I needed the benefits promised if I retired, even though it meant giving up my salary, my life insurance, my sabbatical, and free tuition for my kids.”

In response to the situation at Laurentian, the Liberal government promised to exclude public post-secondary institutions from the CCAA. Two years later, that change has yet to materialize.

In early December, NDP MP Charlie Angus introduced a private member’s bill (C-309) in the House of Commons to remove all public institutions from the CCAA. Earlier, Senator Lucie Moncion proposed a bill in the Senate (S-215) that would exclude public post-secondary institutions from the CCAA. CAUT has urged the government to make a similar commitment in Budget 2023.

“The CCAA is a corporate tool that was never intended to be used by public institutions like Laurentian,” said David Robinson, executive director of CAUT. “We now know that the university administration had other options, including provincial assistance, but chose instead to let their staff and students pay for the cost of gross financial mismanagement.”

Author: gagne
Posted: February 1, 2023, 1:06 pm

Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on January 31, 2023. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

In this issue:

  • Dalhousie Faculty Association ratifies new collective agreement
  • University of PEI Faculty Association: Every legal avenue
  • Members at Memorial head to the picket lines
  • Strike at Cape Breton University
  • State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession survey

Member News

Dalhousie Faculty Association ratifies new collective agreement

The Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) has ratified a new agreement following their conciliation meetings in early January.

In mid-December, there was a strike vote and 82.2% of the DFA membership participated in the vote. Of those who voted, an overwhelming 92.2% voted in favour of striking if a satisfactory deal couldn’t be reached at the bargaining table, a statement by DFA said.

One of the central issues has been salary. The DFA noted that over a three-year period, the board offered less than the increases negotiated by Acadia, l’Université Sainte-Anne, and the Nova Scotia Civil Service.

The DFA is the certified bargaining agent for more than 1,000 professors, instructors, librarians, and professional counsellors at Dalhousie University.


University of PEI Faculty Association: Every legal avenue

The University of Prince Edward Island Faculty Association (UPEIFA) has been in negotiations for a new contract since April. Outstanding issues are mental health benefits, the number of full-time faculty, and salary.

In August, the UPEIFA sought conciliation to clear the impasse between the two sides. However, a statement released late last year by the association said that Minister Bloyce Thompson dragged out the appointment of a conciliator well past the legislated 10-day timeline.

According to Dr. Michael Arfken, UPEIFA president, “as the conciliation process enters its fourth month of government intervention with no end in sight, it has become increasingly clear that the provincial government’s actions are substantially interfering in contract bargaining and creating the conditions for an extended labour dispute at UPEI.”

The CAUT Defence Fund is supporting the UPEIFA in a legal challenge to the government’s ongoing interference in collective bargaining.

“The UPEI Faculty Association is prepared to use any and every legal avenue to preserve the educational quality of our institution and to build a better UPEI,” a statement from the association said.


Members at Memorial head to the picket lines

More than 800 faculty members at Memorial University began striking on January 30.
Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association (MUNFA) members had voted overwhelmingly to strike if a deal wasn’t forthcoming by the end of the month.

“Because of the administration’s unwillingness to negotiate, it appears that no more can be achieved until after our membership demonstrates its strength on the picket lines,” the MUNFA stated in a notice to members. “Despite MUNFA members delivering a historic strike vote on Jan. 18, the administration’s positions on crucial bargaining issues have moved only marginally in more than a year.”

The association representing faculty, librarians and counsellors at Memorial is striking on several key issues including job security for contract faculty, workload, collegial governance, and salaries. 

“Memorial’s instructors are already amongst the lowest paid in Canada. The employer’s proposal is designed to drive salaries lower still,” said a report from MUNFA prior to job action. Read more here.


Strike at Cape Breton University

Cape Breton University Faculty Association members are on strike to achieve a fair contract.

“We recognize that it is a difficult situation for everyone, especially the students. But we are ready to walk the picket line if that’s what it takes to get an agreement we can accept,” CBUFA spokesperson Peter MacIntyre said.

Money remains the main issue at the table. During conciliation, the association reduced its salary demands, but the administration’s counter-offer will still leave members falling behind the cost of living. By contrast, the senior administration gave themselves a 10% raise this year.

The recent report “Culture of Entitlement” from the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers shows that senior university administrative salaries have increased 84% over the last 10 years in Nova Scotia. Over the same period, faculty salaries have grown by only 17.5%, less than 2% per year.

On Our Radar

State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession survey

How do you really feel about your job? CAUT wants to know.  

Given the significant changes over the past two years, CAUT wants to better understand academic staff experiences and attitudes towards the job, the workplace, and the post-secondary education sector. The State of the Post-Secondary Academic Profession Survey will help identify current issues and needs of academic staff at universities and colleges. 

We would like to hear from associations and their members to help us determine how best to serve the CAUT community.  

Please take a few minutes to participate in this anonymous survey. Thank you in advance for your time and input!  

Only three more days to participate in this survey! 

The deadline for completion is February 3, 2023. 

Complete the survey

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Author: gagne
Posted: January 31, 2023, 7:21 pm

(Ottawa – January 30, 2023) Faculty, librarians, and counsellors at Memorial University have taken to the picket lines today after contract talks broke down over the weekend.

“Because of the administration’s unwillingness to negotiate, it appears that no more can be achieved until after our membership demonstrates its strength on the picket lines,” the Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association (MUNFA) stated in a notice to members. “Despite MUNFA members delivering a historic strike vote on Jan. 18, the administration’s positions on crucial bargaining issues have moved only marginally in more than a year.”

The association says a fair deal is needed to protect quality education.

“Students are paying more and more to attend a university that offers less and less.” says MUNFA. “Overworked and vulnerable instructors cannot provide students with the education they deserve.”

For more information and to show support, visit the MUNFA website: https://munfa.ca/2022-bargaining/

Author: gagne
Posted: January 30, 2023, 3:19 pm