CAUT Labour Day Statement 2020

(Ottawa – September 7, 2020) This Labour Day, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) joins in celebrating the contributions of the trade union movement to improved working conditions, health and safety protections, and social programs.

COVID-19 has amplified inequities in society and within our own post-secondary workplaces. Today, we urge academic staff to take this Labour Day to reflect on what has been achieved through our collective action and on what more needs to be done to get through this crisis and to build better universities and colleges.

“We need to move forward to a more just and fair post-COVID Canada for all workers. In the academic workplace, this means putting an end to casualization and discrimination, and improving working conditions for all,” noted CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.

“We are stronger together. Only through collective action will we improve working conditions for all and address the issues of precarity and inequity in the academic workplace and in our communities,” says CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith.

Re-opening colleges and universities: Fall semester plans

CAUT is tracking institutional plans for delivery of courses during the pandemic. We have compiled a database of more than 110 institutions' back to school plans, including the mode of delivery chosen for the Fall 2020 semester and links to each institutions’ health and safety plans.  The database can be found here.

We looked at which universities and colleges are:

  • Fully on-line
  • Primarily on-line
  • Blended
  • Primarily in-person
  • Fully In person

Below are highlights from our compilation of re-opening plans for Fall 2020:

  • The majority of institutions (55%) will be delivering their courses primarily on-line for the fall semester. Most instances of in-person learning in these cases are limited to course components that cannot be held virtually. 
  • Twenty-five percent of institutions are going forward with blended learning, meaning a mix of online, hybrid (i.e. online and in-person components) and in-person classes. 
  • Sixteen percent of institutions will hold courses fully online.  
  • Few institutions are going back to "traditional" teaching, with only two percent holding classes primarily in-person and one percent fully in-person.
  • Two percent of institutions have yet to announce their fall semester plans.


CAUT determined fall delivery plans by reviewing each institution’s website, using language within statements, course schedules, FAQ sections, and other relevant areas within the sites to identify the delivery plan type.

  • Institutions choosing to exclusively provide online classes for the fall were coded as “Fully Online”.
  • Where an institution expressed using in-person classes only in special circumstances (such as when specialized equipment is required or specialized labs or when online teaching is not possible) and offering all other classes online, the delivery plan was listed as “Predominantly Online”.
  • Delivery plans were coded as “Blended” where an institution’s site expressed using a mix of online, hybrid and/or in-person classes. These decisions relied heavily on the institution’s language, as many used the terms “mixed”, “blended”, “hybrid” or similar wording in their plans.
  • Institutions that expressed delivering most of their classes in-person were listed as “Primarily in-person”.
  • Where no information could be found on an institution's plan, whether on their website or through news sources, or where an institution had not yet finalized their plan, they were listed as "Unknown/to be determined".

As things are sure to change and evolve over the coming months, CAUT will continue to monitor how universities and colleges are protecting the health and safety of the campus community. If you believe your institution’s mode of re-opening has been miscategorized, please let us know by sending an email at

Post-secondary staff concerned about remote teaching, research, health and safety and jobs

(OTTAWA— 20 August, 2020) A survey conducted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) shows that the pandemic has significantly increased the workload and the stress level of academic staff across the country.

“Post-secondary staff moved overnight to ensure education continuity for millions of students this spring.  The pandemic created a set of new challenges that needs to be understood and addressed to ensure quality of education this fall,” explained CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.

Amongst the key findings of the survey, a majority of academic staff from universities and colleges are working more than before COVID-19 with almost one-third working more than 10 additional hours per week. A total of 84% of respondents reported somewhat or much higher stress levels due to the pandemic, balancing work and dependent care, challenges with teaching and research, and job insecurity.

Other survey key findings:

· About 1 in 10 have seen their work eliminated or reduced since the pandemic;

· 68% of respondents are worried about the challenges of remote teaching;

· Two out of three are researching less or not at all due to the inability to hold or attend conferences, dependent care responsibilities, inability to access labs or offices, not being able to conduct in-person research, and increased teaching demands;

· Only 1 in 4 feel that they are consulted before decisions that affect them are made; and,

· Respondents identified safe childcare, more access to mental health services, and technological assistance among the resources most needed.

“Academic staff are worried about their students, their research, and their jobs.  It is not clear how the concerns about remote teaching, research and jobs at universities and colleges are going to be addressed without more government and institutional support for post-secondary education,” added CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith.

CAUT surveyed 4,300 academic staff from all provinces between May 13 and June 12, using crowdsourcing data collection. The findings offer valuable insights on the experiences of participants.

Read the summary here.

Read the recommandations here.

Firing of Hong Kong professor condemned

(Ottawa — July 29, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) condemns the dismissal of pro-democracy activist professor Benny Tai from his tenured position as an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong.

“The firing of Professor Tai is another signal that academic freedom and civil liberties are under threat from the Chinese government,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “It sends a clear and chilling message not only to academics in Hong Kong, but to all of those pressing for democratic reforms and respect for human rights.”

Professor Benny Tai was a leading figure of the 2014 “Umbrella Revolution” protests in Hong Kong that paralysed the city for 79 days. Authorities arrested him last month, and sentenced him to 16 months in prison for two public nuisance offences.

CAUT welcomes federal “restart” plan for recovery, but education left out

(Ottawa – July 20, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) says the recent federal announcement of $19 billion for provinces and territories for a “safe economic restart” is a welcome beginning. The priority areas identified in the agreement, such as paid sick leave, child care and long-term care, are insufficiently funded, and it leaves other vital public services out all together.   

“The new agreement is a promising start but it leaves out the post-secondary education sector,” says CAUT Executive Director, David Robinson. “Universities and colleges are key partners through research and education in solving the current health and economic crisis, but are facing tremendous financial pressures as a result of the pandemic.”

“Our universities and colleges have been working hard to protect the health and safety, livelihoods and educations of millions of Canadians, but without assistance they will be forced to make more difficult choices. Already we have seen institutions forced to cut programs or raise tuition fees, just when Canadians can least afford it. Without greater federal investment in post-secondary education, we will see less educational opportunities and less research, compromising Canada’s recovery.”

CAUT represents 72,000 academic staff working at universities and colleges across the country. CAUT called in April for emergency operating funding to continue to deliver the high-quality, affordable and accessible education that underpins Canada’s prosperity.

CAUT condemns arrest of Beijing professor

(Ottawa – July 9, 2020) CAUT has written to Chinese President Xi Jinping protesting the arrest of professor Xu Zhangrun, and calling for the repeal of the National Security Act for Hong Kong.

 “Xu has joined a growing list of people who have been imprisoned for exercising their civil and professional rights,” charges CAUT Executive Director David Robinson, in the letter. “This arrest and the far-reaching security laws effectively curtail freedom of speech and threaten academic freedom.”

Xu, a legal scholar at Tsinghua University, was arrested July 6 after openly criticizing China’s direction under Xi’s government, including laying blame last January for the Corona virus outbreak directly upon the Chinese leader. The National Security Act for Hong Kong came into effect on June 30 and is likely to be used to crack down on dissent.

Read the entire letter

FUNSCAD votes no confidence in Board of Governors

(Ottawa – July 8, 2020) Members of the Faculty Union of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (FUNSCAD) have overwhelmingly voted no confidence in the College’s Board of Governors after the abrupt removal on June 26 of President Aoife Mac Namara.

“Our members have spoken,” says FUNSCAD President Mathew Reichertz. “The lack of transparency in the Board’s decision to remove the President after only 11 months in the position, and its unwillingness to share the reasons for its decision has created a vacuum of information that is destabilizing to the University and destroying our trust in the Board and its ability to responsibly fulfill its fiduciary duties.”

Over 95 per cent of FUNSCAD members voted, and more than 96 per cent voted no confidence.

Reichertz says the Board’s unexplained actions are damaging to NSCAD, and is calling for transparency about the decision. “The Board is the only entity that can repair this problem, either by providing a compelling and satisfactory explanation to the community it serves, and proving that it can act collegially and transparently; or by reinstating the President, and stepping down so that others who have the trust of the community may take up this important responsibility.”

CAUT Statement on National Indigenous Peoples Day

(Ottawa — June 21, 2020) This year, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) marks National Indigenous Peoples Day as five years have passed since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) issued its landmark report.

The report documents pressing issues facing Indigenous peoples that still require attention, and the anniversary of its release is underscored by a global campaign against racism, sparked by the recent death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.

CAUT continues to press all levels of governments to act. As the TRC report notes, education policy can play a critical role in supporting the reconciliation process, but to do so we need to invest and be invested in the reconciliation process.

Academic staff associations, universities and colleges must urgently address systemic racism affecting Indigenous peoples which manifests in delegitimizing Indigenous cultures and knowledge. We must support Indigenization of the academy by undertaking proactive measures aimed at restoring, renewing, and re-generating Indigenous practices, languages, and knowledge; and by pursuing Indigenization through collective bargaining.

Today, as we celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal Peoples, we cannot forget the historic wrongs committed against First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities in Canada, and are reminded that all Canadians have a role to play in decolonizing, and building a more just country and world.

CAUT calls on the federal government to extend emergency wage subsidy support to universities and colleges

(Ottawa – June 10, 2020) In recommendations presented to the federal Finance Committee, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on the federal government to allow universities and colleges to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

“Universities and colleges, like other organizations, need financial support to retain and pay employees during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Academics and staff are taking urgent steps to continue to conduct research and provide education. This vital work will be significantly hampered if institutions cannot retain employees and maintain operations throughout this crisis.”

Whereas private educational institutions are eligible for the federal wage subsidy program, public universities and colleges are not. CAUT is recommending that the government extend eligibility for the CEWS to universities and colleges, and extend the timelines.

“We appreciate the government’s efforts to improve its wage and income support programs,” Robinson adds. “But there are still gaps that need to be closed.”

Statement on anti-racism protests

(Ottawa – June 3, 2020) – The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) stands in solidarity with communities around the world protesting racism, injustice, and inequality.

While the ongoing demonstrations have been triggered by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the outrage and anger being expressed have their roots in years of pent-up frustration with racism and inequality.

CAUT calls on political leaders, organizations, members, and all individuals to take immediate action against endemic racism and inequality. In particular, reforms are needed urgently to policing practices and the criminal justice system in order to end the discrimination and racism against Black, Indigenous and racialized peoples that has resulted in unwanted violence and lives lost.

CAUT renews its commitment to fight anti-black racism in the community, on our campuses, and in the academic workplace. Anti-black racism in the academy is evident in the under-representation of black scholars, students and leaders in post-secondary education; in their over-representation in precarious employment; in racial profiling on campus; and in discrimination in hiring and promotion.

Our universities and colleges must do better. We need to be part of the solution by addressing the inequities that exist and by leveraging the knowledge and expertise of academic staff and students to develop concrete ways to end racism and inequality in our society.