With a spring federal budget expected in the coming weeks, CAUT is stepping up its advocacy work with the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Finance, including a pitch for a $3 billion investment in core funding for universities and colleges.
CAUT is also advocating for an expansion of Statistics Canada data collection about the post-secondary education workforce. There is currently no information collected for colleges or for part-time or contract employees. Additionally, there is little data available about the representation of equity-deserving groups within the professoriate.
The federal government already has a data tool that could easily expand to collect data on everyone who works at colleges and universities: the University and College Academic Staff System (UCASS), a survey run by Statistics Canada. Since the 2021 federal election, CAUT has been working with federal decision-makers in Ottawa to highlight the importance of UCASS expansion.
UCASS was, like the Long Form Census, cancelled by the Harper government. It had existed since the 1930s, gathering employment data about full-time academics at universities only. The Liberals brought back UCASS in 2016, promising to expand it to include contract academics, the college sector, and equity information beyond just gender. Despite the promise, the UCASS expansion has not yet happened.
This month, CAUT participated in a national “day of action” for contract academic staff, with members publicly signaling their support for UCASS expansion. CAUT members are also engaged in advocacy meetings with their members of Parliament to press the issue.