CAUT

Groups urge federal government to extend the CERB to students and contract staff

(Ottawa — April 7, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) are calling on the federal government to extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to post-secondary students and contract academic staff.

“Students and contract academic staff are seeing their job offers vanish and will have limited or no income over the coming months because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “We’re urging the government to ensure that students and our most vulnerable workers are not left behind.”

“Many students, even if they do work during the school year, are not eligible for the CERB and their prospects for the summer are grim. Students must be included in this much-needed emergency benefit. It is essential that the federal government offers support to those who are falling through the cracks," says Canadian Federation of Students Chairperson, Sofia Descalzi.

Many students and contract academic staff rely on income from spring and summer jobs to help make ends meet, but there are significantly fewer summer employment opportunities today than in a normal year. Even if a student made over $5,000 in their previous summer job, they are not eligible for the CERB if they did not lose a job because of the pandemic. 

With colleges and universities cancelling spring and summer courses, some contract academic staff may see their incomes reduced to below the $2,000 per month provided through the CERB.

For more information, please contact:
Geneviève Charest, Canadian Federation of Students, 613-240-2631 or communications@cfs-fcee.ca

Valérie Dufour
Director of Communication, Canadian Association of University Teachers, 613-293-1810 or dufour@caut.ca

CAUT welcomes improved Canada Emergency Response Benefit

(Ottawa – March 26, 2020) The federal government’s newly expanded and improved income support program for workers and their families is a valuable and timely measure, says the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).

“The COVID-19 pandemic is causing massive disruption worldwide and the next few weeks or months will be difficult for many workers who are experiencing job loss or reduced income,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a significant step forward and we encourage both provincial and federal governments to continue to expand and adapt supports to best assist Canadians with this crisis.”

The new CERB, announced March 25, simplifies and expands previously announced programs and will provide $2000 per month for up to four months to workers who have lost income as a result of COVID-19, including contract workers and those who previously would not have been eligible for the benefits offered through the Employment Insurance (EI) program. 

The application portal is expected to be functional by early April. Those applying can expect funds within approximately ten days. 

Alberta urged to reverse education cuts as COVID-19 crisis takes hold

(Ottawa — March 26, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is gravely concerned by the Government of Alberta’s refusal to reverse planned cuts to post-secondary education which will see over 600 workers laid off at the University of Alberta alone, most before March 31st.

Despite outcries from the scientific community, and a national call to support workers and families through the COVID-19 crisis, the provincial government is proceeding with massive funding cuts to post-secondary education.

The Kenney government announced earlier this year that funding would be reduced by up to 20% for some institutions. With universities and provinces now reeling from the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, the funding reductions will be even more devastating for workers and families in Alberta and will have long-lasting impacts on the quality and viability of post-secondary education.

“In this unprecedented time, governments need to be investing in science, supporting workers, reducing anxieties, and ensuring that families can get through this crisis,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “The post-secondary education and research community is stepping up to address the COVID-19 crisis. To cut funding to the institutions that provide needed evidence-based expertise to deal with this pandemic – from research in vaccinology and immunology, to policies needed to address the social and economic fallout – is short-sighted and harmful.”

Robinson adds that CAUT supports the calls of the joint letter sent to the University of Alberta to maintain employee benefits and payroll throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Quebec urged to reverse decision to suspend teachers' collective agreements

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on the government of Quebec to reverse its decision to suspend the collective bargaining agreements for teachers in the province.

Teachers were notified by email that agreements were no longer considered binding, and that their assignments, schedules and workplaces could be modified at any time in order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now is the time when we need to be working together to contain this pandemic,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Teachers at all levels of the education system in Quebec and the rest of Canada are eager to work with governments and employers to help us through these challenging times. We need collaboration and cooperation, not draconian measures like this that are counterproductive, disrespectful, and excessive.”

Robinson is urging all governments and educational institutions to consult with teachers to find mutually acceptable and effective ways to help students and parents through the current pandemic.

CAUT welcomes assistance for workers and calls for support of post-secondary education amid COVID-19 spread

(Ottawa — 18 March 2020) Across Canada, as universities and colleges are taking important steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, CAUT welcomes the $27 billion in direct support to Canadians announced today by the federal government. This is an important step in ensuring that vulnerable Canadians, including post-secondary education workers and students, are adequately supported throughout this crisis.

Many of those in the post-secondary sector – contract academic staff instructors, support staff and students – have precarious work with limited job protection and few benefits. The new emergency care benefit of $900 biweekly for those who do not have access to paid sick leave, a six-month interest-free reprieve on student loan payments, and a deferral of tax payments until August 31, among other measures, are necessary steps to support vulnerable workers.

As we move forward in addressing the crisis, we hope our governments continue to adapt and evolve programs to meet the needs of workers and their families. In addition to this financial support, measures are needed to uphold worker’s rights at the provincial level, and we are calling upon all provinces to ensure job-protected leave, and to make the necessary changes to employment standards to close the gaps in support made evident from this public health emergency.

The economic repercussions of this crisis will be felt for months and even years to come. For academic staff, threats to their livelihoods loom in the coming school year, as universities and colleges are likely to see pandemic related declines in enrolmentand resulting financial problems this fall.

Additional fiscal measures will be required to stimulate the economy and support public services. CAUT urges the federal and provincial governments to coordinate measures to assist education in the coming months.

Ensuring the sustainability of post-secondary education through the predicted temporary downturn in enrollment will protect core operations and livelihoods, providing continuity for the expertise needed to continue to tackle this crisis and support Canada’s recovery.

CAUT Update on COVID-19

While the risk to Canadians arising from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic remains low according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the situation is developing rapidly. CAUT is aware that at least one university has been closed as a preventative measure, and that other institutions are likely to follow suit in the days ahead.

Universities and colleges have a legal obligation to protect the health and safety of staff and students. Employees also have a right to refuse to work in conditions they reasonably believe are unsafe. In certain situations, CAUT understands that it may be necessary for academic staff who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 to self-isolate. In such cases, there should be no loss of pay or seniority during the period of self-isolation.

In other cases, it may be necessary to close campuses and to temporarily move to on-line instruction in order to limit the spread of infection. In such instances, it is important that academic staff associations be involved in the development, implementation, and monitoring of these plans. While associations should be flexible given the seriousness of the pandemic, administrations should negotiate protocols with associations as collective agreement rights may be affected. Some agreements, for instance, require the consent of members in order to transition to on-line instruction. Language on intellectual property, health and safety, workload, and performance evaluations are other examples of what might be affected.

Administrations must provide academic staff with appropriate time and training to transition to on-line instruction, and no one should suffer a loss or reduction of pay, be laid-off, or declared redundant because of these temporary measures. Particular attention should be paid to protecting contract academic staff whose jobs, by their nature, are vulnerable. In cases where it is not feasible or pedagogically sound to provide a course on-line, the course should be postponed without loss of pay or seniority.

The academic staff association should also be involved in the active monitoring of how these arrangements are affecting members and students.  On-line education may create additional workload pressures in which case administrations must provide additional support for staff, such as assigning teaching assistants. The intellectual property rights of members must be respected. Academic bodies (Senate, Faculties Council, or Education Council) should be involved in monitoring the pedagogical effectiveness of temporary on-line instruction and to decide on adjustments or discontinuance. Administrations must also consider the special needs of particular staff and students, including those who may have limited access to the internet or face other barriers to delivering or completing their courses on-line.

If campuses are closed, protocols may also be necessary to manage laboratories where time sensitive research or research involving plants and animals is being undertaken. In such cases, and with the appropriate training and protective equipment, academic staff should be allowed access to campus in order to monitor their research and care for plants and animals.

Academic staff associations should ensure, preferably through a written agreement with the administration, that all measures taken in response to the pandemic are temporary and solely in response to an extraordinary situation. The association, through its representatives on the Joint Health and Safety Committee, should be involved in assessing the health and safety of the workplace, and determining when classes should resume as normal.

Associations are strongly encouraged to share developments with CAUT and to contact us for specific advice as needed.

LA VERSION FRANÇAISE DE CE MESSAGE SUIVRA SOUS PEU

CAUT Statement on International Women’s Day

(Ottawa – March 8, 2020) CAUT and academic staff across Canada mark International Women’s Day by standing united with woman and girls around the world, and celebrating their social, economic, cultural and political achievements.

CAUT continues to call on the federal government to take concrete actions to improve gender equity both within and outside of the post-secondary education sector, including signing on to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) proposed Convention 190  to end gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work.

CAUT welcomes the agreement reached last year to ensure more robust equity targets, transparency and accountability within the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program. The agreement builds upon other recent government changes to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion within the CRC Program, and capped a process started in 2003 by eight academics who, with the support of CAUT, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission over the Program’s failure to reflect the diversity of Canada’s university researchers.

On this IWD, CAUT applauds the tenacity of the women academics who persevered in challenging systemic bias within the CRC Program: Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Louise Forsyth, Glenis Joyce, Audrey Kobayashi, Shree Mulay, Susan Prentice, and the late Wendy Robbins and Michèle Ollivier.

Statement on Dismissal of Steve Boyd From Queen's University

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is expressing concern over the termination of Steve Boyd from his position as track and field head coach at Queen’s University.

Boyd says he was fired for speaking out against the University of Guelph’s handling of misconduct allegations against former coach Dave Scott-Thomas.

While Boyd did not hold an academic post at Queen’s, CAUT Executive Director David Robinson says universities have a special obligation to respect the exercise of free expression, within the law, of all members of the campus community.

“Free expression is crucial to the university,” states Robinson. “Academic freedom cannot thrive in an environment where free expression is suppressed.”

Solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en Nation

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) expresses solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en Nation and its Hereditary Chiefs who are insisting upon respect for their autonomy and sovereignty over their unceded land.  Forceful intervention by the police will not resolve this dispute.  Respectful and meaningful nation-to-nation dialogue, consistent with the principles of reconciliation, is needed.

CAUT calls upon the federal government to ensure that peaceful negotiations are conducted, and that Indigenous rights – which are enshrined in our Constitution, in court rulings, and through the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – are upheld. Governments and communities must acknowledge these rights and the Wet'suwet'en Nation’s inherent right to self-governance. CAUT offers its support and remains committed to reconciliation and a meaningful, peaceful path towards decolonization.

MAFA ratifies new collective agreement

(Ottawa – 18 February 2020) The 150 full-time and 60 part-time members of the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA) have voted 91% to ratify their new collective agreement.

The new three-year contract includes improvements on accommodation of members with disabilities and greater job security for long-serving part-time faculty members. The negotiated agreement was reached after a six-day strike.

“While progress was made there is still room for further improvement in these areas as well as in the areas of resources for the academic mission and workload,” said MAFA president Matt Litvak.

CAUT in solidarity with Ontario teachers and education workers

(Ottawa – February 11, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) stands in solidarity with Ontario’s elementary and secondary teachers who have been without contracts since last summer.

The four major teachers’ unions are conducting rotating strikes and work slowdowns as they oppose cuts to the province’s publicly funded education system, along with wage-cap legislation imposed by the Ford government on all public sector workers. The Conservative government is also attempting to introduce larger class sizes and mandatory online courses which teachers oppose as having negative impacts on student learning with a disproportionate effect on students with special needs.

“Ontario’s teachers are fighting for an education system that ensures all their students have access to quality public schools,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “CAUT proudly supports the province’s teachers.”

MAFA on strike

(Ottawa – 3 February 2020) The 150 full-time and 60 part-time faculty and librarian members of the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA) set up picket lines early this morning in Sackville after seven months of frustrating bargaining.

The key issues at the negotiating table are job security and compensation for part-time faculty, academic resources and workload, disability accommodation, and employer demands for concessions on tenure, promotion, and sabbatical processes.

“This round of negotiation is about protecting the quality of the education that we offer at Mount Allison. Our working conditions are students’ learning conditions,” says MAFA President Matthew Litvak.

For updates and to send letters of support, go to mafa.ca

CAUT condemns Alberta education cuts

(Ottawa – January 24, 2020) Deep cuts alongside imposition of an “outcomes-based” approach to funding of post-secondary education in Alberta have prompted CAUT Council to express their unanimous condemnation of the moves to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

In a letter sent to Kenney, CAUT President Brenda Austin-Smith and Executive Director David Robinson state: “Your government's short-sighted plan balances a budget on the backs of students and staff. Alberta already has low participation rates for post-secondary education, and these changes will create more barriers, just when many young Albertans, especially those living in rural areas, and older adults who are navigating Alberta's changing industries, need doors open.”

CAUT’s letter takes note of Alberta’s “inspirational and vibrant post-secondary sector with internationally recognized universities, top polytechnics, and an extensive network of regional universities and colleges,” which are jeopardized by the government’s actions, along with the high-quality education and research they provide.

“[Alberta’s] post-secondary system [is] already under undue strain. Whereas system-wide data are important, performance-based funding, wherever it has been operationalized, leads to a narrowing of scholarship, both in teaching and research, limits education choice, and, frankly, results in “gaming”, fundamentally compromising the quality of education.

CAUT calls for Kenney to reconsider his approach.

“Post-secondary education and strong protections for workers sustains good jobs and a high quality of life. On behalf of our members, we implore you to reverse these cuts, reconsider your approach to performance-based funding, and reinvest in post-secondary education to ensure a better future for Albertans.”  

Read the full letter here.

Australian bushfires solidarity

The bushfire crisis currently gripping Australia has had a devastating impact on wildlife and people. CAUT’s sister organization, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), is reporting that the fires have directly affected some of their members who have suffered loss of their homes and other financial hardships. Some universities have also provided members with additional leave so that they can defend their homes and communities and provide volunteer support in response to this national disaster.

CAUT associations and members can show their solidarity with the NTEU by donating to the Australian Council of Trade Union’s Bushfire Relief Fund or the Australian Red Cross.

Beyond this direct support, the NTEU is urging colleagues around the world to call out the fact that the severity of the bushfires is a direct result of climate change, and that any serious response must include a comprehensive approach to tackle the climate crisis both in Australia and around the globe.

CAUT and the NTEU have as one their core values the principle of sticking together and supporting each other in times of hardship. Please take a moment to show your solidary with all our Australian colleagues and communities affected by this disaster.

CAUT in solidarity with India anti-government protesters

(Ottawa – January 15, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) condemns recent violent police and government attacks at three of the India’s leading universities: Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Over the past month, police and government-backed thugs have beaten students and teachers, and used tear gas and rubber bullets to quell peaceful protests over recent changes to citizenship laws and proposals calling for national registration of all citizens. The changes have fueled fears that Muslims in India will face discrimination by the right-wing Hindu-majority government.

“Peaceful protesters have been brutally attacked while police have also refused to allow medical assistance for badly injured victims,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “We condemn these illegal tactics in the strongest terms, and urge the Indian government to immediately reconsider its proposals which are the root cause fueling the protests.”

The harsh attacks have led to solidarity protests across India with at least 29 universities and colleges joining. Additionally, general public protests have erupted in support of the students, and a January 8 nationwide general strike, also in support of the students and specifically anti-government, involved up to 250 million participants, including trade unions, students and farmers.

CAUT urges review of labour relations at UNBC

(Ottawa – January 15, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is concerned about the state of labour relations at UNBC and is urging the institution to agree to an external independent review.

“In my many years of experience with CAUT, I can say without hesitation that I have not come across a more difficult and acrimonious labour relations environment than exists at UNBC today,” wrote CAUT executive director David Robinson in a letter to the Chair of the UNBC Board of Governors.

Read the full letter here.

CAUT statement on deadly Iran plane crash

(Ottawa – January 8, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) wishes to express heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of the 176 victims involved in a horrific air crash that occurred earlier today in Iran.

Media reports suggest that the 63 Canadians on the flight included Edmontonian Mojgan Daneshmand, and her husband Pedram Mousavi, both engineering faculty at the University of Alberta.

Daneshmand was an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Radio Frequency Microsystems for Communications and Sensing, while Mousavi was a professor of mechanical engineering. Their daughters Daria and Dorina were with them and also perished.

Other Canadians on the flight were from British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario. The University of Ottawa has confirmed that three students were aboard the Ukraine International Airlines flight, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Iran's capital of Tehran on its way to Kyiv. 

Pakistan urged to release jailed lecturer

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on Pakistani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Junaid Hafeez, a 33-year-old lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan.

After being targeted by an Islamist group for his “liberal” teachings, Hafeez was charged with blasphemy over a series of Facebook postings.  He was arrested in March 2013, and has been held in solitary confinement since June 2014. In December2019, he was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court.

“Professor Hafeez’s case represents a serious violation of internationally-recognized human rights and academic freedom,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Pakistani authorities must immediately release him from custody and drop all charges.”

Robinson notes that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been widely criticized for being overly broad and repressive, and have been used to target religious minorities and activists.

According to rights groups, more than 1,500 blasphemy cases were reported in Pakistan between 1987 and 2017. During this time, more than 75 people accused of blasphemy were killed extra-judicially.

“The government of Pakistan must repeal the blasphemy laws,” adds Robinson.