The Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation discovery of the remains of 215 children at an unmarked site in Kamloops, B.C. has shocked the community, the province and the nation. FPSE locals and members are honouring the memory of these children and supporting their families and communities by wearing orange, flying flags at half-mast, and conducting commemorations acknowledging the 215 children discovered at this single location. Understanding and addressing the abuse, death and generational trauma resulting from residential schools must be accompanied with moving to actions, such as calling for the protection of sites of former residential schools, as a part of the six of the TRC’s 94 calls to action focused on missing children and burial information.
(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) & səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territories –
Vancouver, BC, May 11, 2021) – Yesterday union leaders from the post-secondary sector met with Dr. Bonnie Henry, public health officials, as well as post-secondary administrators to discuss concerns about the return to campus planned for September.
Following the meeting, unions representing the majority of faculty and staff across all BC post-secondary institutions issued the following statement:
Consultation is a key factor in the successful operations on our campuses. We appreciate that this was the first conversation of its kind with the union groups and BC public health officials, and look forward to continuing our discussion. Working together, we can ensure the health and safety of faculty, staff, and students on all campuses.
Every post-secondary institution in BC is complex, with different needs based on campus populations, programs, and proximity to nearby communities. We were encouraged today that public health officials recognize many plans will need to be made on the ground on an institution-by-institution basis. Now, post-secondary institution administrators need to work collaboratively with the faculty, staff, and their representing unions on site to come up with local solutions based on the needs of the campus community. The only way to properly plan for the reality of hundreds to thousands of people on campus is to speak to the front-line educators and staff who will be in direct contact with students.
This discussion also reinforces the need to commit to fair and sufficient funding for BC post-secondary institutions to make much-needed long-term investments in campus infrastructure and programs. Properly investing in ventilation systems as well as campus health centres available to all members of the campus community will be necessary to support a safe environment for everyone.
Brent Calvert, President and Sean Parkinson, Secretary-Treasurer FPSE
Daniel Laitsch, President and Annabree Fairweather, Executive Director CUFA BC
Colin Jones, President and Michael Conlon, Executive Director BCITFSA
Cindy Battersby, Vice President Component 7 BCGEU
Christy Slusarenko, Vice President MoveUP
BC Post-Secondary Education Sector Group
Representing over 24,000 faculty and staff, teaching and supporting 175,000 full-time-equivalent students in post-secondary across British Columbia.
Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC: CUFA BC https://www.cufa.bc.ca/
CUFA BC represents over 5,500 faculty members, professional librarians, lecturers, instructors, and other academics at the five research-intensive universities in British Columbia, which include University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, Royal Roads University and University of Northern British Columbia. CUFA BC celebrates fifty years of working closely with the member Faculty Associations at each institution. Our purposes are to support high-quality post-secondary education and
research in British Columbia and to advocate for the interests of our members.
President - Dr. Dan Laitsch firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director - Annabree Fairweather email@example.com
BC Institute of Technology Faculty & Staff Association: BCITFSA https://www.bcitfsa.ca/
The BCIT Faculty & Staff Association (BCITFSA) is a certified trade union and a member-driven association that represents 1,800+ full-time and part-time technological faculty and staff at the B.C. Institute of Technology (BCIT). The BCITFSA has worked since 1964 for excellent working conditions for all members through representation, negotiation, and advocacy. The well-being of BCIT as a unique educational institution in British Columbia is at the heart of our work.
President - Colin Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director - Michael Conlon email@example.com
Movement of United Professionals: MoveUp https://moveuptogether.ca/
The Movement of United Professionals (MoveUP) represents more than 12,000 union members at public and private sector companies in Western Canada. MoveUP is Local 378 of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE-SEPB).
Vice-President - Christy Slusarenko firstname.lastname@example.org
Union Representative - Nathan Beausoleil email@example.com
BC Government & Service Employees Union - Component 7 https://www.bcgeu.ca/component-7
Component 7 is the Education, Scientific, Technical and Administration unit of BC GEU, and includes members who work in colleges and institutes as instructors and support staff, in private environmental testing laboratories, legal services, and other related fields. Employers include community colleges, the B.C. Institute of Technology, the Justice Institute of B.C., private labs, BC NDP Caucus and Constituency
Offices, legal services to the public and many more.
Vice President Component 7 - Cindy Battersby Cindy.Battersby@bcgeu.ca
Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC: FPSE https://www.fpse.ca/
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators is the provincial voice of 10,000 faculty and staff at BC’s teaching universities, colleges, institutes and private sector institutions.
President - Brent Calvert firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary Treasurer - Sean Parkinson email@example.com
Today, the B.C. government unveiled Budget 2021. It includes targeted commitments with respect to post-secondary skills, training, education and the workforce, which supports the sector.
In response, Brent Calvert, the President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) of B.C., said:
“Post-secondary education is an important sector – and one that is vital to B.C. economic recovery. We know that young people, women and racialized communities are among the hardest hit by the repercussions of the pandemic, and recognize the urgency for these populations to have access to education, training and re-training.
“It’s encouraging that the government is adding $32 million dollar investment in post-secondary skills training initiatives. We know that targeted funds give communities the ability to determine the mix of training opportunities they need.
“Training opportunities provide much-needed support to people immediately, and also pay dividends by ensuring that people are getting the education that works in the post-COVID future.
“There is also significant funding committed to post-secondary infrastructure as part of the government’s highest-ever level of taxpayer-funded capital spending totalling $26.4 billion dollars over the next three years. Of this, $3.8 billion dollars (14%) is allocated for post-secondary projects that will enhance the learning environment of students.
“While institutions are continuing to plan for a return to in-person learning on campuses in September, they are missing key steps to ensure the health and safety of workers and students. The pandemic remains an extremely dynamic situation, meaning we need as many people working together on the return to campus plan as possible. We’re talking about the coordination of hundreds to thousands of people in shared indoor spaces, so faculty, staff and students can’t be brought in at the last moment and expected to fill in gaps that should have been identified and solved in the initial plan. There’s still time to include stakeholders in planning, so we’ll be pushing for that to happen at every institution in BC.
“Now we’ll be monitoring institutions to make sure this money goes to where it’s needed – more faculty and higher staffing levels to address burnout/workload, maintain health and safety, and give students the support they need to succeed.”
Note: A more detailed budget analysis by FPSE to follow.
On January 25th the ETEA filed a complaint against ILSC under Section 54 of the BC Labour Relations Code. Section 54 requires that “If an employer introduces or intends to introduce a measure, policy, practice or change that affects the terms, conditions or security of employment of a significant number of employees to whom a collective agreement applies” the Employer must meet in good faith with the union to try to develop an adjustment plan. Due to the global pandemic ILSC was not able to recall their teachers to work as would normally happen. As a result over 50 teachers will have their recall rights expire and their employment with ILSC terminated.
ILSC had a legal obligation to meet with the union to form an adjustment plan once it realized it would not be able to recall teachers as they normally would. They did not do this, and instead told the union that they had no interest in discussing an extension of recall rights. ILSC has offered to hire teachers back when operations return to normal, but without their accumulated seniority and at the starting wage of the pay scale. This represents a pay reduction of up to 25% for these teachers, many of whom have over ten years of experience teaching with ILSC. It is not surprising that ILSC would be willing to hire trained, skilled and knowledgeable teachers back at starting wages and with no seniority. It shows a complete lack of respect and recognition for the work these teachers have contributed to the success of ILSC.
A few important facts about the dispute between the ETEA and ILSC:
– ILSC is the only language school with an ETEA bargaining unit that did not reach an agreement with the ETEA on extending recall rights as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
– ILSC reached an agreement with their teachers in Toronto to extend their recall rights. It is only the teachers in Vancouver whose recall rights they won’t extend.
This global pandemic has been a challenge on both employees and employers. The majority of the employers the ETEA works with have handled this difficult time with respect to the union and have worked cooperatively with ETEA Bargaining Units. We encourage any former students or agents to contact ILSC and let them know how disappointed you are that the company is using the pandemic in such an opportunistic fashion, and at the expense of hard working and long serving teachers.
Tell ILSC NO! to driving down workers’ wages and rights!
ILSC Contact Information:
Phone 604-689-9095 | Email firstname.lastname@example.org | Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ilscvan/
ILSC profits on the knowledge and experience of workers – now they want to profit off the pandemic too. Show your support for ETEA workers by sending a message to ILSC saying:
“Do the right thing ILSC. Extend the recall rights for your Vancouver teachers too!”
The Education and Training Employees’ Association (ETEA) represents over 250 private post-secondary teachers in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria, and is Local 21 of FPSE.
2020 marked both the start of a new year and the additional excitement that occurs with the launch of a new decade. For us at the Federation of Post Secondary Educators, it also marked our 50th year of advocacy for improvements in the learning and working conditions for post-secondary students and educators. You can learn more about our fifty-year history through our online museum at https://history.fpse.ca/
The year began with some notable moments for students and educators. We supported efforts to make post-secondary more affordable by supporting the new BC Access Grant for students announced in the February provincial budget. We continued our advocacy for contract faculty, and welcomed the Quest University Faculty Union as FPSE Local 24. Our federation also granted over $60,000 to human rights organizations through our International Solidarity Fund (ISF). The ISF funds projects and actions that support disadvantaged people organizing to realize their basic human rights, informed by the values of equality, respect, human dignity and social justice. Since 2008, FPSE has now donated over $400,000 to organizations leading this work around the world.
Then, in March COVID-19 was declared an international pandemic and everything began to change. Suddenly, we had to adapt our life and work to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. Over just a few days, educators and students together undertook an unprecedented overnight transition to remote-adapted-learning. I'm proud of the fortitude and resilience BC post-secondary educators demonstrated in making the best of their severely disrupted working environments to provide students with the best learning conditions possible.
During this dramatic change in learning environments our FPSE locals were in various stages of bargaining negotiations. This added to what was already an incredibly stressful time, but bargainers brought the same fortitude and resilience to negotiation as they did teaching their classes. As a result of the hard work of the folks who are our faculty and staff unions, the majority of our locals were able to meaningfully increase pay for contract faculty for the first time in over twenty years. I’m so appreciative of the local and provincial bargaining teams for their perseverance in achieving the best deal possible for their coworkers.
Of course, there are profound new challenges brought about by the pandemic. Fluctuations in student enrollment and disruptions to international education are felt unevenly across our system. Often, budget pressure results in staffing layoffs or cuts, which increase workload for remaining educators, and reduce capacity to support students. It will be tempting to ease the pressure on institutional and provincial budgets by allowing post-secondary budgetary strain to be born by increased educator workload. This is not sustainable – not for educators, and not for students - both of whom need additional supports to succeed during this time of pandemic post-secondary education.
The impact of the pandemic has been felt particularly keenly by our private post-secondary workers. In May a unionized private language school, inlingua Vancouver, closed and twenty of our Local 21 – ETEA members lost their jobs. Many of these workers made lasting contributions to our federation, and we need to do everything possible to support the other ETEA members who are at risk of losing their jobs or facing deep concessions due to the pandemic. We cannot allow COVID-19 to destroy the rights and benefits it has taken workers decades to achieve.
In June, we spoke out about these challenges during the BC Budget 2021 consultation held by the provincial government Standing Committee on Finance. A strong post-secondary sector is a vital part of the economic recovery plan we need for British Columbia. Many FPSE Locals also made presentations to the Standing Committee on Finance, pressing home the point that failing to increase funding to post-secondary to make up for any budget shortfalls would put our province’s future economy at risk for relatively small savings. Further, we also called for a post-secondary funding review. We are pleased to relay that this review was included in the BCNDP party platform and is now a focal point in the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training mandate letter! This review is the first step in creating a truly sustainable post-secondary system. Thank you to all the FPSE and post-secondary activists whose advocacy has resulted in this review. We’ll be posting more information as we find out more about the post-secondary funding review process.
Our sector has also been affected by other global events. The enormous groundswell of public demonstration in support of Black Lives Matter this summer has hastened a reckoning with the legacy impacts of colonization and racism in our education institutions. The Scholar Strike (https://scholarstrikecanada.ca/) in September showed that educators, students and administrators are ready to make changes. It will not be easy, it will not happen overnight, but it is essential that we begin our journey towards anti-racism now. I am committed to this work, personally, and as president of our federation. It will require changes in our union and federation practices, and require examining our own thoughts and beliefs in order to be achieved. I am confident that if we bring the same curiosity and sustained exploration of anti-racism as we do of the subjects we teach, we will transform ourselves and our institutions.
In early 2021 we will begin incorporating the findings from our FPSE Ad Hoc Committee on Climate Emergency into our operations and committee work. This follows from our October declaration of a climate emergency, and endorsement of the Global Climate Emergency initiative of the Global Universities and Colleges for the Climate group.
Imagine a working and learning environment where each day inequality amongst ourselves and our colleagues is reduced; the post-secondary system becomes more accessible and sustainable; Indigenous ways of knowing, being and relating are embraced and practiced; and our racialized colleagues and students are truly safe and valued. This is the future we are working towards.
Wishing you a safe and restorative holiday season.
xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) & səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territories (Vancouver) - Today is the first day of Fair Employment Week, an international campaign to bring attention to the working conditions of contract faculty. After a bargaining process that stretched out over a year, there are mixed results for contract faculty at BC colleges and teaching universities. Across the province, contract faculty are paid less by varying degrees. Ending this pay disparity was a top priority of the unions, but ultimately not all unions were able to make progress towards equal pay for contract faculty.
“Fair Employment Week is our opportunity to bring people together to understand and address contract faculty issues. For too long, contract faculty have been used as disposable labour that can be paid less for doing the same work,” said FPSE president Brent Calvert. “This creates an obvious cost incentive for institutions to keep educators on contract, rather than moving them into regular work. The combination of less pay, no job stability, and no health benefits was bad enough before the pandemic, but now is much worse. Contract faculty who weren’t hired for this fall semester now have no employment, no extended health coverage, and yet they still have bills to pay and kids to feed. What happens if they or their families get sick and need support?”
“At every bargaining table we attempted to connect the dots between the lesser pay and protections for contract faculty and the connection to the overrepresentation of racialized people within contract faculty ranks. In turn, this is connected to the systemic racism and bias that disadvantages racialized folks for promotion. All of this makes the gains that unions and employers were able to achieve that much more meaningful. Where contract faculty made gains, their economic health improved, and the institution became better placed to deal with COVID-19. However, there’s a growing number of items that workplaces are struggling with through the COVID-19 pandemic, so much more needs to be done.”
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators is the provincial voice of 10,000 faculty and staff at BC’s teaching universities, colleges, institutes and private sector institutions. We provide resources, legal services, and engage in advocacy on behalf of our 20 member faculty and staff associations. Learn more at fpse.ca
- Lower pay and instability for contract faculty has existed in BC for over 50 years, with unions attempting to increase security and pay through bargaining.
- In 1998, unions reached a landmark agreement that included a process for contract faculty to become regular employees (regularization).
- However, collective agreements continued to allow contract faculty to be paid less – sometimes 80% less – than their regular colleagues.
- Now, at 8 institutions, contract faculty have had their first meaningful pay increase in two decades.
FAIR EMPLOYMENT WEEK 2020
It’s time for Fair Employment Week 2020! FPSE has a long and proud tradition of strong activism on behalf of all our non-regular members. Because of the commitment, focus, and perseverance of all our members we have been able to make gains on job security and pay for our precarious members. Our struggle continues but this week we take time to come together, recognise our successes and plan for our next steps..
Join us as we celebrate Fair Employment Week with a documentary viewing, an online social and as we join precarious faculty across the country through our CAUT connections!
OCTOBER 18 to 24
In Search of Professor Precarious | Free screening for FPSE members
In Search of Professor Precarious is an 80-minute award winning documentary about precarious contract professors in Canada and their struggle for fairness was produced by Gerry Potter. The film follows the story of four precarious academics as they fight for equality. FPSE was one of many unions that sponsored the production of this film.
We will be providing free streaming of the film to members throughout Fair Employment Week. Watch it alone or with colleagues and friends!
Click here to access the film; password is MakeItFair
Access the film and find out more here
MONDAY, OCTOBER 19
10:00-11:30 am PST
Organizing to Win for Contract Academic Staff: A CAUT Members' Panel
Hear case studies from across the country on how academic staff associations have organized around and won victories for contract academic staff. This event will take place in English with simultaneous interpretation into French.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20
10:00-11:00 am PST
Intellectual Property in a Time of Remote Learning for Contract Academic Staff: A Webinar with Dr. Sam Trosow
Join Dr. Sam Trosow, a professor at the University of Western Ontario, who will discuss the issues of ownership and control of course content for contract academic staff in a time of remote learning.
This event will take place in English with simultaneous interpretation into French.
7 to 9 pm PST
FPSE Fair Employment week Social
Join FPSE leaders and members in an informal get together. We will all share thoughts and our experiences about the challenges facing non-regular faculty this year, how we can work together and with new allies to bring about real fairness for non-regular faculty and what you need FPSE and locals to do moving forward. It will be an exciting evening!
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21
10:00 to 11:00 am EPT (7:00 - 8:00 am PST)
A Keynote Address by Dr. Liz Morrish
Liz Morrish, an independent scholar and activist for resistance to managerial appropriation of the university and co-author of the book Academic Irregularities, will present a talk titled, “A plague on universities: How the pandemic has created breach points for the future of labour, pedagogy and values in higher education.”
This event will take place in English with simultaneous interpretation into French.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22
A Social Media Day of Action
We are encouraging locals and members to flood social media with Fair Employment Week messages. Use the hashtags:
#MakeItFair, #MakeitFair4CAS and tag us @FPSE
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23
10:00 to 11:00 am PST
A Zoom social for contract academic staff
Join contract academic staff from coast to coast in an informal Zoom social. Folks will be put into breakout rooms to get to know one another, talk about the unique issues contract academic staff are experiencing, discuss strategies to improve working conditions, and join together in celebration of the work and contributions contract academic staff make to our universities and colleges. What a great way to end the week!
There is a provincial election taking place in BC, concluding on October 24th. Every election is an important opportunity for educators to take part in our democracy. When you vote, you have your say in who the government will be for the next four years.
This election is taking place during a pandemic, so while the importance of taking part is the same, there are some key differences to keep us all healthy and safe.
Here’s our top 5 list of questions to ask and things to know to help you take part in the election.
- In order to vote, you must be:
- 18 years or older by General Voting Day, and;
- a Canadian citizen, and;
- a B.C. resident for the past six months as of General Voting Day.
2) Make a plan to vote!
- If you’re eligible to vote, make a plan to vote that includes the following:
- How – do you want to vote by mail, or in person? If you want to vote by mail, request your mail-in ballot from Elections BC today. Here is the Elections BC information about safe voting during the pandemic.
- When – look at your upcoming schedule. Do you have time to vote during the advance polls or on Election Day October 24? If these are busy days for you, consider voting by mail or in person at an district electoral office.
- Where – once you’ve decided how and when you’re going to vote, make sure you know the location of the mail box, postal office, or voting location you’re going to use, and put all the details in your calendar.
3) Decide who to vote for.
- The provincial government has responsibility for managing a number of important services we rely on, including our healthcare system, post-secondary education institutions, and worker health and safety regulations;
- Each political party has different ideas about how to manage these systems. Look up what they say on the issues that matter to you. Based on their positions, decide which party aligns with your views; and/or
- Look up who the candidates are in your electoral district and make a decision based on their individual profiles (although they will largely agree with the provincial stances on issues taken by the party they are representing).
4) Don’t know who to vote for? Ask questions!
- If you don’t find the answer to a question you have in any of the party platforms, ask the candidates or the campaigns. Don’t be afraid to follow up if you don’t hear back.
- Ask your local union if they are holding a candidate debate or issuing a candidate questionnaire. Attend the debate and ask a question or read the candidate responses to find out more about what they think about the issues that matter to you.
5) Remind your friends and family to vote!
- Our democracy is strongest when we all participate. Once you’ve made your vote plan and decided who to vote for, reach out to your friends and family to remind them to vote too! With so much going on, your gentle reminder for people to vote could be all that’s needed to have their valuable perspective included too.
This month, our federation received some sad news. Ed Lavalle, former president of our organization (see footnote), passed away on Friday August 7. Ed is survived by his partner Susan and daughter Michelle.
Former FPSE President George Davison wrote about Ed’s long history as a labour activist and political educator in the piece below.
In Memoriam: Ed Lavalle
Ed’s career as a post-secondary educator and union activist spanned 44 years, from his hiring as a Political Studies instructor at Capilano College in September 1973 to his retirement from Capilano University at the end of April 2017. Ed’s achievements were many, primarily at the local and provincial level, but they also set the stage for our provincial federation to take a prominent place amongst our union and post-secondary allies provincially and nationally.
Ed was involved in just about every round of bargaining at his local since he started – 15 rounds by my count. He was a moving force in the 1970s within the College Faculties Federation, a provincial organization of newly-organized faculty unions that had eight locals, 709 members, a volunteer executive and a budget of $11,000. At Capilano, he set up the Labour Studies Programme, a college-based worker education program developed in cooperation with trade unions. Through this program, Ed led workshops on how arbitrations and strikes could be used to defend collective agreements. In the late 70s, Ed was the driving force to create a provincial union, the College-Institute Educators’ Association, which was established in May 1980.
Ed used to say that bargaining was everything, whether it was with your colleagues, the employer, union allies, or the government. Bargaining was also a continuum: one needs goals to attain and the patience to work towards those goals over time. Ed helped mould CIEA into an effective provincial federation in the 1980s and ‘90s. A provincial defence fund was established in 1986 to support striking locals, and CIEA set up new standing committees for women and non-regulars, our contract academic staff, who had just been organized into what had been full-time faculty unions. Ed was elected Vice-President in 1987, was re-elected in 1988, and became President in 1989. He served as president for 7 terms, from 1989-92, and again from 1995-99.
In the 1990s, Ed oversaw the process to get legislative changes to the Colleges and Institutes Act that resulted in the establishment of Education Councils and constituency (faculty, support staff and students) representatives on institutional Boards of Governors. He was one of the key stakeholders who worked with representatives of institutional presidents, ministry officials, students and the B.C. Government & Service Employees’ Union: in September 1996 they produced Charting A New Course: A Strategic Plan for the Future of British Columbia’s College, Institute and Agency System that involved setting up a number of system agencies to support post-secondary education. These were designed to make post-secondary education better for students, for faculty and staff, for institutions, for the government, and for British Columbians.
Ed’s goal of coordinated bargaining was finally achieved in 1998, when the entire post-secondary system outside the research universities and BCIT came together to bargain. After almost three months of bargaining in the spring, a summer hiatus and strike vote in September, the provincial negotiating committee achieved a tentative agreement hours before a province-wide strike was set for late October. The agreement included clauses on harassment, one-quarter release for union-employer relations, prior learning assessment, copyright and intellectual property, regularization, leaves, benefits and a joint committee on benefits administration, pensions (the first joint-trusteed pension plan amongst public sector plans in BC), early retirement incentives, a provincial salary scale and secondary scale adjustment, and a clause protecting superior benefits in a local agreement.
Ed became Provincial Secretary to the BC NDP from 1999 to 2003. He returned to Capilano College after that, and continued to teach labour studies and political studies. He developed an exchange program with the European Parliament that saw Canadian students travel to the Hague, and European students come to Canada.
Former BC Minister of Education, Skills and Training (and former CIEA president) Paul Ramsay said “"Ed was a force and (for me) a mentor. He did so much to strengthen education, unionism, and government in B.C. Few have done as much. I will deeply miss his intelligence and wit."
In short, Ed was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the collective agreements we all enjoy today, and for building the federation into what it is today: an organization with two full-time officers and 12 staff, 20 locals, 10,000 members, affiliated to the BC Federation of Labour, the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Canadian Labour Congress through the National Union of CAUT.
As one of Ed’s colleagues wrote to me, “it would take a book to document the full history of his contribution. At the level of Cap College/University…[he demonstrated] patience, acumen, knowledge, strategic vision and determination to serve the best interests of the faculty [and] inspired in all of us a cheerful courage to achieve success…[He] always kept his own ego in check, suffered the occasional slings and arrows flung his way with equanimity and without rancour, and soldiered on…[He was] An exemplary comrade-in-arms, a wise and dedicated and selfless leader.”
He will be missed.
 The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC has been re-named multiple times over 50 years, motivated both by changes to post-secondary institutions, as well as the membership of the organization. In 1970, the organization consisted entirely of college faculty associations, thus was created under the name College Faculties Federation (CFF). The CFF was re-constituted as the College and Institute Educators’ Association (CIEA) in 1980, largely in response to the SoCreds introduction of Bill 82, the Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act. Finally, CIEA became the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC in 2004 when the BC Liberals changed the University-College of the Cariboo into Thompson Rivers University.
INVESTING IN PUBLIC POST-SECONDARY: THE FOUNDATION FOR BC'S COVID-19 RECOVERY
A submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.
THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE POST-SECONDARY SECTOR
When COVID-19 threatened our society, we united in following public health directives out of deep concern and compassion for our fellow citizens. The public has proven that there is broad and deep support for actions, and spending, to take care of each other. We must maintain this commitment to public spending to support people through the crisis.
The only consensus that exists regarding the province’s economic future is that much is unknown, but given the national and international negative impact, it is expected there will be a recession or depression, and that the recovery will be led by the public sector. While hardly a positive economic outlook, it is helpful to recognize this reality as a starting point in building the budget to bring clarity to the goals of the provincial budget: will it accept additional hardship for those at the bottom, or will it actively seek to reduce inequality by directing public funding towards those measures proved to long-term societal, economic, and individual benefit?
Given that a downturn is expected, spending and services should be aligned to meet the anticipated needs of citizens. History shows that during an economic downturn, people will enter or return to some level of post-secondary education. This is why it will be so important to maintain the capacity of the post-secondary system. A cut by austerity or unchanged public spending is still a cut – with large reliance on private funds expected to evaporate, public spending will be needed to make up the shortfall.
ACCESS FOR STUDENTS
Past funding programs like Institutional Based Training and Capacity Expansion along with their low tuition levels serve as positive examples of increased funding directly correlating with increased access for students. The successes of these initiatives stem from principles that should be used to guide funding for post-secondary institutions in their COVID-19 response:
Continuity | At a minimum, the current program profiles of post-secondary offerings need to be maintained while also supporting new needs. Institutions that are not able to balance their 2020-21 budgets should, with proper planning, rationales, and approvals be allowed to proceed without cuts to balance their budgets. If cuts are deemed necessary, they should be made as far away from the key service area of post-secondary – education and direct education support – as possible.
Accessibility | Adequate faculty and staff levels need to be present across the province – geographic access to quality post-secondary training across the province is just as important now as it was when the college system was created. Emergency remote learning delivery during COVID-19 is justified, but it is by definition tied to our emergency circumstances. When face to face learning can safely resume, students will need access to institutions close to home with educators in their classrooms, and the ability to interact with their classmates. This will not be possible if rural institutions’ educator workforce is devastated by cuts motivated by fewer students.
Accountability | Accountability is best ensured through directed funding ‘envelopes’ with specific requirements, such as maintaining as many educators in the workforce as possible.
Affordability | Widespread loss of individual and family income adds financial barriers to those who most need access to education and skills training. Support BCFS calls for financial assistance for students.
Recommendations for BC Budget 2021
1) That the provincial government join FPSE and employers in establishing a formal tri-partite mechanism to ensure that continual consultation and inclusion are the hallmarks of BC’s approach to the COVID-19 crisis and continue post-crisis.
2) That public investment to public post-secondary institutions be increased to offset reduced revenue from international students and fund the post-secondary educational access BC needs. Current geographic accessibility and course offerings must be maintained or increased. It is important that BC’s post-secondary education system not be degraded by any reduction in international student tuition revenue. FPSE supports calling on the federal government to provide this funding through increased social transfers to BC as part of Canada’s economic recovery plan. Further options to maintain the post-secondary system:
- Allow institutions to run deficits
- Allow institutions to access surplus accounts to ensure continued funding of services, courses, and therefore faculty and staff employment.
- Pause, post-pone or cancel some capital projects so funds can be moved or kept within operational account
- Allow access to institutional surpluses to maintain educator workforce
- Wage and hiring freeze on administrators at all institution, and for those laying off faculty or staff that administrative cuts be at least proportionate (to the educator: administrator ratio).
- During COVID-19 pandemic, instruct institutions to demonstrate preferential consideration for educators laid off or not re-hired by institutions within the BC post-secondary system (using Article 2 of the Common Agreement pertaining to the laid off worker registry).
- Businesses and employers have a role in supporting a strong public post-secondary system as part of BC’s economic recovery. Businesses who need their employees to learn new skills should be encouraged to enter into Contract Training with a public post-secondary institution .
3) That the provincial government call on the federal government to:
- Endorse the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ (CAUT) call to allow public institutions to access the wage replacement subsidy;
- prioritize funding and support for private post-secondary institutions with unionized instructors, as this is the most efficient metric by which to measure fair and equitable treatment of instructors and students; AND
- establish a federal tri-partite committee to determine sector-wide practices regarding international education with compliance with collective agreements mandated at the outset.
The impacts of COVID-19 have been profound and felt across society – although those who were already vulnerable disproportionately suffered the negative economic and social consequences of the pandemic. The economic disruption has decreased government revenue at the same time as there has been increased demand for public services. It is in this context that the 2021 BC Budget is being prepared.
Rather than asking if an economic downturn is inevitable and trying to avoid it through cuts and austerity, FPSE is calling for bold, significant investment in the people of BC and the services they need to weather whatever lies ahead. We need to lay the foundation for a strong economic recovery that will last for generations.
Investment in post-secondary education must be part of this foundation, just as it must be part of the economic recovery. During an economic downturn, the need for post-secondary increases as people look for work or need to upgrade their training. When the education they need is affordable and accessible, the individual, the post-secondary system, and society all benefit from a population that grows healthier, more financially secure, and more democratically engaged, as it becomes more educated.
Investing in post-secondary education gives more people the opportunity to succeed. This is exactly the investment we need at this moment. This is how we can build an economic recovery for working people.
If you would like to read the submission in its entirety, please click on the link below: