CAUT

CAUT statement on National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women

(Ottawa — 6 December 2018) — Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women — is not only about remembering victims but is also a call to action.

On this day in 1989, 14 women at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal were murdered in an act of gender-based violence (GBV) that shocked our nation.

CAUT condemns all forms of violence and marks this day as a reminder that women and girls in Canada, and around the world, continue to face levels of violence that are disproportionate and unacceptable.

In Canada, spousal/family violence consistently remains the most common form of violence against women, with 7 in 10 people experiencing such violence being women and girls. Trans people and lesbian and bisexual women and women with disabilities report even higher rates of intimate partner violence.

The stark reality is that every six days in Canada a woman dies at the hands of her intimate partner.

The first federal strategy to prevent and address GBV was introduced in 2017, in an effort to prevent such violence, and also to support survivors and promote better legal responses. CAUT applauds the government’s strategy and the further injection of funds in Budget 2018 which will target additional problems including teen dating violence and cyberbullying.

While some progress is beginning to be measured against the strategy’s goals, it will take much more effort before significant reductions in GBV are realized.

CAUT calls for continued government investment to stamp out GBV, and reminds individuals and organizations to take strong stands against misogyny and sexism which fuel such hate-filled acts. It is only once a true culture of respect is fostered in homes and workplaces that women and girls will no longer have to face such alarming and needless violence.

Premier Ford urged to respect French-minority rights

(Ottawa — 30 November 2018)  Delegates attending the 85th Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Council meeting unanimously adopted a motion condemning the Ontario Conservative government for canceling plans for the Université de l’Ontario français without consulting Franco-Ontarians.

In a letter to Premier Doug Ford, CAUT echoes concerns expressed by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations’ (OCUFA) about plans to cancel the promised French-language University without first consulting Francophone students, parents, and the academic community.

“We ask you and your government to hold, with respect to the linguistic rights of minorities, consultations with all the relevant stakeholders, and most importantly, with the Francophone community of Ontario before making a final decision on the future of a French university in Ontario,” writes CAUT executive director David Robinson.

CAUT is the national voice of 72,000 academic and general staff at 125 universities and colleges across the country.

CAUT condemns back-to-work legislation imposed on postal workers

(OTTAWA – 28 November 2018) Delegates at the 85th Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Council meeting unanimously passed a motion condemning the use of back-to-work legislation by the federal government to end the stand-off between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, CAUT executive director David Robinson states that the legislation violates the right to free collective bargaining.

“The government’s interference in this matter means that many of the serious issues in negotiation will be unresolved.”

“The back-to-work legislation disappoints working people across the country and across the sectors who strive to bargain in good faith to address health and safety, equitable treatment, fair wages and working conditions, and exercise their democratic rights,” added Robinson.

CAUT is the national voice of 72,000 academic and general staff at 125 universities and colleges across the country.

Investigation into Potter case finds McGill violated academic freedom

(Ottawa – November 24, 2018) An investigation into the controversial resignation of Dr. Andrew Potter from the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC) has found that not only did the University fail in its duty to protect Professor Potter’s academic freedom, but that its justification for his resignation has undermined the academic freedom of all academic staff at McGill.

The report, prepared for the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), is calling on the University to develop policy to give full protection of academic freedom to academic administrators.

Professor Potter found himself at the centre of controversy in March, 2017 after writing a blog post for Maclean’s Magazine in which he suggested the response to a snow storm in Montreal was reflective of a “pathologically alienated and low-trust society” in Quebec. He later resigned his position as director of the MISC.

“The central academic freedom issue in this case arose from the McGill administration’s claim that academic administrators do not enjoy the same protections as academics without administrative positions,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “It is well understood that universities have as their fundamental commitment the search for knowledge and understanding. This requires an environment free from institutional censorship against any academic.”

The CAUT investigation found no conclusive evidence that the McGill administration put pressure on Professor Potter to resign as Director of MISC, but concluded such pressure would not have been inconsistent with the University’s belief in the conditional academic freedom of academic administrators.

CAUT is the national voice of more than 72,000 academic and general staff at 125 universities and colleges in Canada.

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For more information, please contact:

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, 613-222-3530 or keller@caut.ca

Investigation launched into alleged academic freedom violations at Thompson Rivers University

(Ottawa— 31 October, 2018) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has established an investigation into the case of Professor Derek Pyne at Thompson Rivers University to determine if his academic freedom was violated.

In April 2017, Professor Pyne published an article exploring the use of so-called “predatory publishers” by faculty members and administrators in the School of Business and Economics at Thompson Rivers. He says he was subsequently targeted by the Administration in violation of his academic freedom.

Professor Pyne has been suspended by the University since July.

Dr. Mark Mac Lean (Mathematics) of the University of British Columbia will chair the investigatory committee. Carla Graebner (Librarian for Data Services and Government Information) of Simon Fraser University will also serve on the committee.

Media contact

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c); keller@caut.ca

Copyright balance needed in wake of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

(Ottawa – October 4, 2018) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on the federal Liberal government to reassess its approach to the current review of the Copyright Act in light of concessions made in the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Article 20.H.7 of the USMCA trade agreement extends the term of copyright protection in Canada by 20 years, from 50 years after the death of the author of a work to 70 years. The change is the result of pressure from the US entertainment industry.

“The provision means that works that would have been freely available to all to be copied, shared, altered and republished will be locked down for another twenty years,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Term extension will cost the education sector and inhibit authors, artists, students, teachers, researchers, and ordinary Canadians in their pursuit of creativity, free expression and learning opportunities.”

Long identified as a giveaway to large corporations at the expense of the public interest, term extension had been resisted by successive Canadian governments. Even the most vocal Canadian proponents for more restrictive copyright law have been reluctant to advocate for it.

“With term extension now imposed as a by-product of an international trade deal, the careful balance in Canadian copyright law has been upended in favour of corporate content owners,” states Robinson. “To correct this, the current review of the Copyright Act should advance expanded user rights within the legislation – including broader fair dealing provisions, stronger educational exceptions, better access to orphan works, and reformed Crown Copyright. The United States has forcefully imposed the interests of its corporations on the Canadian public. Canada must push back.”

CAUT Office Temporarily Closed

Please be advised that as a result of severe weather experienced in the National Capital Region, the CAUT office remains without electricity and will be closed until power is restored. Staff email accounts are not functional at this time. For urgent matters, please leave a message at 613-820-2270 and someone will respond as soon as possible.

CAUT releases results of first national survey of contract academic staff

(Ottawa – September 4, 2018) Most academic staff working on contract at Canadian universities and colleges aren’t employed that way by choice indicates new survey results gathered and released today by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).

According to the survey:

  • Over half (53%) of respondents want a tenure-track university or full-time, permanent college job. This is the case even for contract academic staff (CAS) who have been teaching for 16-20 years.
  • Only 25% said they do not want a tenure-track or permanent, full-time academic appointment. The remainder are unsure.
  • Women and racialized CAS work more hours per course, per week than their colleagues and are more likely to be in low-income households.
  • Two-thirds of respondents said their mental health has been negatively impacted by the contingent nature of their employment, and just 19% think the institutions where they work are model employers and supporters of good jobs.

“Until now, we had no clear picture of the working conditions of CAS across the country,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “These results reveal that many CAS are underpaid, overworked and sorely under-resourced. It’s a dismal picture for the majority of these academics, who often feel trapped in a ‘gig lifestyle’ of part-time or insecure work.”

CAS are a swiftly growing segment in the Canadian academic workforce, with the number of university teachers working part-time, part-year expanding by 79% from 2005 to 2015.  In contrast, regular professors increased by only 14% and in the same period, the number of students grew by 28%.

“Administrators are increasingly — and wrongly — replacing what should be full-time permanent jobs with a patchwork of lower-paid, short-term contracts,” said Robinson. “The growing reliance by administrators on CAS is unfair to CAS and to their students.”

More than 2,600 CAS responded to the online survey, which was open to those teaching at least one course during the 2016-17 academic year in any Canadian post-secondary institution.

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Media contact:

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c); keller@caut.ca

CAUT Statement on Labour Day

(Ottawa – August 31, 2018) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) marks Labour Day 2018 by recognizing the many achievements of the trade union movement, and committing to continuing the fight for improved standards of living for all workers.

CAUT, along with other unions and employee associations, has been instrumental in promoting equity at Canada’s universities and colleges, and remains a vocal advocate for academic freedom and professional rights won through collective representation.

But serious challenges remain, including the growing corporatization of institutions of higher learning,  and an increasing reliance on contract hiring.  

CAUT will continue to push back against these trends and will work to promote the integrity of our universities and colleges, and advance the rights and security of workers on campus.

This Labour Day, we recognize the need for continued solidarity across the labour movement, as we stand against the casualization of academic work, and for the advancement of health and safety standards in all workplaces, and of a fair and equitable society.

Media contact:

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

Ontario “free speech” requirements for universities and colleges cause for concern

(Ottawa – August 31, 2018) The government of Ontario’s plan to require the province’s universities and colleges to adopt “free speech” policies and punish those who fail to adhere to the new requirements is an unprecedented interference with institutional autonomy, warns the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).

“CAUT has long advocated that campuses must be sites where there is a free and open exchange of ideas,” says executive director David Robinson. “But universities and colleges should set their own policies, not politicians. Institutional autonomy – including the freedom from government diktat – is itself necessary to protect free expression and academic freedom.”

Robinson adds that the government’s requirements are “a solution in search of a problem”.

“The belief that free expression is being squelched on campuses across the province and across the country is grossly exaggerated and masks a thinly veiled political agenda,” says Robinson.  “The difficult conversations about free speech on campus today are about reconciling unhindered debate with the need to ensure that all voices can be heard without facing discrimination and harassment. This can be a very difficult terrain to navigate, but punitive measures such as those proposed by the Ford government will create a more litigious and polarizing environment, making it more difficult to find solutions.”

The vagueness in the government’s guidelines of what constitutes an interference with free speech is also a problem, and may prohibit legitimate protests.

“Ironically, the requirements may have the effect of actually curtailing free expression on campus,” Robinson suggests.

“The real problems around free speech and academic freedom on campus today are linked to issues such as government de-funding, and the increasing precariousness of academic work,” says Robinson.
“The Ford government could better serve the people by focusing on these real problems, and not chasing after distractions.”

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For  more information, please contact:

Valérie Dufour, Director of Communications, 613-293-1810 or dufour@caut.ca