CAUT welcomes settlement on equity targets for Canada Research Chairs Program

(Ottawa – July 31, 2019) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is welcoming today’s announcement that an agreement has been reached to ensure more robust equity targets, transparency, and accountability within the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program.

Today’s settlement builds upon recent government changes to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion in the CRC program, and caps a process started in 2003 by eight academics who, with the support of CAUT, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission over the program’s failure to reflect the diversity of Canada’s university researchers.

“Canada’s research community owes much to the eight women who came forward 15 years ago to challenge systemic bias in the CRC program and who persevered in holding the program to account,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Over the past four years, the government has ushered in several initiatives aimed at increasing equity, diversity, and inclusion within the research and university sectors, and today’s settlement helps to further advance that work.”

The new agreement establishes a ten-year framework for the CRC program to reflect the diversity of the Canadian population, setting institutional targets for the representation of women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples. Additionally, the under-representation of members of the LGBTQ+ community will be addressed for the first time.

“This is an important step towards ensuring that the Canadian research field both reflects Canada’s rich diversity and benefits from the talent and perspectives of those who were previously denied a seat at the table,” says the Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Marie-Claude Landry.

Consistent with other recent changes, today’s announced settlement enhances accountability mechanisms for institutions that fail to consistently meet targets.

“The changes being made to the CRC program recognize that under-representation arises not from a lack of qualified candidates but from discriminatory and exclusionary principles or practices in society and in academia itself,” says Robinson. “By addressing these barriers we can better encourage excellence, innovation, and fairness in the research environment.”

The women academics who initially challenged the CRC program before the Canadian Human Rights Commission with the legal representation of CAUT are: Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Louise Forsyth, Glenis Joyce, Audrey Kobayashi, Shree Mulay, Susan Prentice, and the late Wendy Robbins and Michèle Ollivier.

Media Contact: Valérie Dufour, Director of Communications, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-293-1810 (cell);

Backgrounder statements by some of the complainants:

“I am thrilled that this settlement addresses all the gaps in the 2006 settlement”

- Shree Mulay

“Too often, equity and diversity initiatives have been restricted to availability in a currently discriminatory pipeline. Under this new agreement, the Canada Research Chairs Program will move quickly towards reflecting the full and actual diversity of Canada. This is a path-changing understanding, for universities and other Canadian institutions.”

- Susan Prentice

“This exciting agreement will change for the better what we know or think we know about ourselves, the natural world and the people in our world. It will throw doors open to everyone and welcome ways of seeing/thinking/being that have not yet found their place in schools, colleges and universities.”

- Louise Forsyth

“When the agreement is in full force, the representation of the groups named will reflect their representation within the Canadian population – not just their representation in universities.  This is a significant expansion of the concept of equality and something that has the power to effect significant change, especially if it is expanded to other groups and applied more widely in public institutions in the future."   

- Marjorie Griffin Cohen

New polling shows Canadians believe in post-secondary education, and so should our federal political parties

 (Ottawa – July 23, 2019) Canadians believe post-secondary education (PSE) has a positive impact on themselves and the country as a whole, is more relevant today in our rapidly changing world, and makes us stronger in the face of new challenges, according to a new national survey conducted by Abacus Data for the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).

With provincial and territorial ministers of education in Victoria July 24-25 for the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) meeting, the survey results are timely and of key relevance to their discussions on crucial PSE issues.

Findings include:

  • A large majority (78%) of those surveyed view universities and colleges as having positive impacts on the direction of the country;
  • Most Canadians believe PSE is more relevant than ever, with 70% agreeing that “it has never been more important to get a post-secondary education given the changes in the economy and society”;
  • When told that Canada has the highest rate of residents with a post-secondary degree among comparable countries, two thirds (65%) of respondents feel it makes Canada a better place to live, a view that’s held across demographic, regional, and socio-economic groups. A majority of all political party supporters feel this way as well;
  • 93% of Canadians would get a PSE if there were no tuition, indicating cost is a factor for lifelong learning.

“The survey also showed that Canadians are concerned about many issues such as climate change, our aging population, and growing economic and social inequality,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “In that context, Canadians clearly see the value of PSE in preparing students for the modern economy, training the next generation of problem solvers, conducing research, and introducing students to a wide range of viewpoints and perspectives.”

CAUT is calling on all federal political parties to support PSE the way most Canadians want the government to support it, by:

  • Ensuring that every student who wants to go to college or university can go, regardless of their ability to pay (84%);
  • Investing more in full-time post-secondary teaching positions (85%);
  • Reducing class sizes at colleges and universities (64%);
  • Eliminating post-secondary tuition entirely (61%).

“Post-secondary education makes Canada more united, stronger, and positioned to tackle the challenges we will face today and in the future,” Robinson says. “The federal government should support the sector and help make it stronger across the country.”

Media contact: Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c)

*Methodology – the survey was conducted online with 1500 Canadian residents aged 18 and over, from April 24-30. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random-sample of the same size is +/- 2.53%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment and region. Totals may not add up due to rounding.

CAUT condemns dismissals at Maritime College of Forest Technology

(Ottawa – July 5, 2019) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is raising concerns about academic freedom at the Maritime College of Forest Technology in New Brunswick following the recent dismissal of two teachers.

Wildlife biologist Rod Cumberland was fired from his teaching post on June 20. On July 3, Gerald Redmond, the former director of the school who was still teaching there, publicly stated that the College’s dismissal of Mr. Cumberland was likely in retaliation for his outspoken criticism of the herbicide glyphosate. Mr. Redmond also said he “felt pressure from the board of governors in several instances, to try to sanction Rod for his outspokenness on the glyphosate herbicide.”  The next day, the College informed Mr. Redmond that his services were no longer needed.

CAUT says that the academic freedom of both teachers has been violated, and that they have been denied due process in the manner in which they were dismissed. These incidents will be referred to the CAUT Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, which will take further actions if the situation is not satisfactorily resolved.

 Media contact: Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c)


CAUT statement on National Indigenous Peoples Day

(Ottawa – June 21, 2019) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) marks National Indigenous Peoples Day as a recognition of the diverse cultures, outstanding contributions and unique heritage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada.

This year, we acknowledge the recent report on the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).

The report caps over two years of cross-country hearings including testimony from some 2,000 survivors of violence, their families, and experts, detailing the trauma and marginalization that have devastated many Indigenous communities.

CAUT is committed to restoring, renewing, and regenerating Indigenous practices, languages, and knowledge, and has called for action on the 231 recommendations contained in the report.

Additionally, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has documented many pressing issues facing Indigenous peoples that still require attention. Its report notes the critical role education can play in supporting the reconciliation process.

CAUT continues to urge academic staff associations, and universities and colleges to support indigenizing the academy by working together to establish equitable policies and practices that involve Aboriginal Peoples and Indigenous knowledge in all aspects of campus life.

CAUT statement on the report on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

(Ottawa – June 6, 2019) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) calls for action on the 231 recommendations contained in the report on the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) released Monday.

“This report makes it clear that Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people have suffered from disproportionate rates of violence through our country’s history, with many being murdered or simply vanishing,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “The unacceptable gender-based violence they continue to face is shameful, and we urge the federal government to move forward on implementing the report’s Calls for Justice.”

The report caps over two years of cross-country hearings including testimony from some 2,000 survivors of violence, their families, and experts, and details the trauma and marginalization that have devastated many Indigenous communities.

“CAUT applauds the bravery and activism that inspired and drove the inquiry,” Robinson adds. “Now, we need to make the necessary legal and social changes not only so that no one suffers such injustice and inequity in the future, but also so that the wounds of the past are healed.”  

CAUT welcomes balanced, progressive copyright report from Industry Committee

(Ottawa – June 6, 2019) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) commends the authoritative review of the Copyright Act released yesterday by the Parliamentary Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. The result of months of thorough and thoughtful study, the report contains 36 recommendations, including expansion of fair dealing purposes, and represents a balanced and forward-looking assessment.

“CAUT’s members – teachers, librarians, researchers and other academic staff at universities and colleges – include both users and creators of content, and they understand the importance of finding a fair approach,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “While the report contains compromises, we are assured that a broad range of voices were sought out and heard, including CAUT’s, making the report a good starting point for future copyright reform in Canada.”

Several key recommendations echo CAUT’s input before the committee:

  • Preservation of educational fair dealing, with expansion of fair dealing purposes (“such as” illustrative list as opposed to current exhaustive list)
  • Opposition to extension of copyright term; though conceded through recent NAFTA negotiations, the term should be extended only if copyright owners register
  • Agreement that intersection of copyright law and Indigenous knowledge is problematic and must be reformed to reflect Indigenous rights
  • Easing of digital locks for allowable purposes such as research, fair dealing
  • Placing limits on Crown copyright

“Fair dealing is a legal right confirmed by past judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada, and the report acknowledges that the ‘decline of collective licensing in education has arguably more to do with technological change than it does with fair dealing’,” Robinson adds. “It is significant that decades of jurisprudence have helped define fair dealing so as to provide certainty with flexibility, and CAUT urges the government to remain mindful of these considerations as it moves forward with reform of the Act.” 

Media contact: Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c)

CAUT condemns Heritage report on copyright

(Ottawa – May 17, 2019) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is alarmed by recommendations released this week by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage regarding copyright law in Canada.

The report, though produced by a committee mandated to take into consideration the broad range of stakeholder interests — including creators, the public, educators and students — focuses entirely on the interests of big publishers and their lobby groups.

“The report puts the financial interests of publishers over the rights of students and teachers,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson.

The report makes a number of contentious and alarming recommendations, including rolling back fair dealing rights, extending copyright term, and increasing damages for infringement (even for accidental and minor, non-commercial violation of copyright), while also creating several new rights and payments for publishers.

“Restricting user rights is no way to genuinely support independent Canadian creators, and would have a significant negative impact on scholarly communications and the exchange of knowledge,” Robinson says.

He notes the report demonstrates little understanding of the legal development of fair dealing — the existence and parameters of which have been confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada — and ignores the reality at Canadian schools, universities, and colleges across Canada.

“Students and schools are paying unsustainable and unfair amounts of money to publishers. Fair dealing is a necessary carve-out that allows appropriate sharing for educational purposes, yet this too is under attack,” Robinson says. “The claim that fair dealing has anything to do with publishers’ declining profits or the struggle that some creators face in making a decent living is demonstrably false. The recommendations should be rejected in favour of a more balanced and fair approach to copyright law.”

Media contact:

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (cell)

CAUT Statement on the 100th Anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike

(Ottawa – May 15, 2019) Today marks 100 years since the commencement of the Winnipeg general strike, when most of the city’s workers — about 30,000 private and public sector employees — walked off the job in an organized but unprecedented protest over dismal working conditions, low wages and the lack of a right to a collective voice.

Six weeks later it was over, but not before the federal government had ordered the arrest of eight strike leaders, and riots on June 19, “Bloody Saturday”, resulted in the deaths of two strikers and injuries for many others when mounted police rode into crowds gathered at Market Square and used clubs and guns to quell the unrest.

“The Canadian Association of University Teachers stands with other unions in Canada to honour the memory of this ground-breaking strike and of the people who fought for rights we often take for granted today,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Today, workers are facing a resurgence of anti-unionism that threatens to erode or eliminate the power of collective action which was so hard-won by those before us — a threat we must stand together to guard against, just as workers did 100 years ago, despite the precarity of their situations.”

The strike was a defining event in the history of Canada’s modern union movement and served to highlight the plight of the working class, and drive growing solidarity. It spawned the birth of the first mandated minimum wage, leading the way for unionization of workers, improvements in employment and social conditions, and ultimately to recognition by the Supreme Court of Canada of the right to strike as essential to a meaningful process of collective bargaining protected by Canada’s Constitution.

Remembering Vic Catano

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Vic Catano, who passed away on May 10, 2019. As a leading academic staff association activist, he contributed enormously to advancing college and university workplace rights. His loss will be keenly felt; his legacy will continue.

Honoured in 2009 with CAUT’s Donald C. Savage Award, Vic’s work as a chief negotiator on the Saint Mary’s University collective agreement set a standard that associations across the country, big and small, continue to incorporate and build on. Again and again, CAUT has turned to that language for use in its model clauses and bargaining advisories.

As a leader, he dedicated time and energy to serving as President of CAUT, President of Saint Mary's University Faculty Union, and countless other committee positions.

Dr. Catano was a Professor of Psychology at Saint Mary’s University. Over time he also served as a Special Lecturer at the Technical University of Nova Scotia, an Adjunct Professor at Dalhousie University, a Visiting Research Fellow at the Canadian Forces Personnel Applied Research Unit, President of the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia, President of the Canadian Society of Industrial / Organizational Psychology, and Chair of the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations’ Independent Board of Examiners.

Beyond these specific achievements, Vic also leaves a record of personal warmth, compassion, and deep commitment to the cause of workplace justice. Our responsibility to his legacy is to continue his work.