(Ottawa — May 1, 2020) The federal government must address the significant financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on universities and colleges with a series of bold measures to strengthen public funding and to maintain enrolment levels, says the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).
“Universities and colleges are integral to the solving of Canada’s current and future challenges. We urge you to take immediate steps to further close the gaps in emergency support and commit to making changes to improve the affordability and sustainability of post-secondary education as part of a recovery plan that ensures a stronger and more just post-Covid-19 Canada,” wrote CAUT President, Brenda Austin-Smith, and CAUT Executive Director, David Robinson, in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
CAUT is asking the federal government to act on three recommendations in order to ensure Canada’s post-secondary institutions weather the pandemic and are well-positioned to assist the country in recovery:
- Allow universities and colleges access to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy;
- Work with the provinces and institutions to implement tuition waivers to ensure that any qualified student will be able to get the education and training they need without taking on additional debt;
- Increase the federal transfer to the provinces for post-secondary education with agreements on shared priorities to improve affordability, accessibility and quality.
CAUT argues that the extending the federal wage subsidy program will help secure jobs for the summer and the fall for thousands of academics. Providing tuition waivers gives students and those workers currently unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic an opportunity to get the education and training they need without taking on debt. The final recommendation focuses on building long-term, stable, and predictable public funding for Canada’s universities and colleges.
“This pandemic has brought into sharp relief the unsustainability of the current financing of post-secondary education in Canada. Support for students must be complemented with a commitment to stable and predictable core operating funding. This will allow colleges and universities to focus on their core academic mission,” concluded Austin-Smith and Robinson.
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