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Support for research welcome but further expansion of the wage subsidy program needed

(Ottawa — May 19, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) welcomes the recent announcement from the federal government of $450 million in further support to the research community, but remains concerned that public universities and colleges remain ineligible for the federal wage subsidy.

“The funds are good news for health researchers and institutions affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “The health research sector was faced with massive layoffs, and we are pleased to see that the federal government has worked to fix what was a very significant gap in their wage subsidy program.”

The new announcement included extending wage support to university and health research institutes that are funded through industry and philanthropic donations of up to 75 per cent per individual to a maximum of $847 a week. These institutes are also eligible for up to 75 per cent of costs to maintain and restart essential research-related activities such as safe storage of dangerous substances and restarting data sets.

The federal government also announced an expansion of the wage subsidy program to include non-public educational and training institutions. The wage subsidy program still does not apply to public universities and colleges. 

“It is troubling that private educational institutions are eligible for the wage subsidy, but public ones are not,” said Robinson. “Our public institutions across the country are also facing significant challenges. The federal government needs to do more to help the hundreds of thousands of workers that universities and colleges employ and the students they support”.