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March Advocate: CAUT disappointed by federal budget - 'Post-pandemic' bargaining and organizing - Bargaining updates

Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on March 31, 2023. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

In this issue:

  • Post-secondary institutions still unprotected, largely excluded from 2023 federal budget 
  • Academic staff meet in-person to discuss ‘post-pandemic’ bargaining and organizing
  • Bargaining and job action updates
  • Apply today – J.H. Stewart Reid Memorial Fellowship for Doctoral Studies
  • Obituary: Carla Lipsig-Mummé

Post-secondary institutions still unprotected, largely excluded from 2023 federal budget 

The federal budget did not make needed investments in post-secondary education or protect colleges and universities from corporate insolvency. 

Find CAUT’s analysis of the federal budget on our website.

CAUT hoped that the government would invest in research and graduate student scholarships, increase transfers to the provinces to support affordable post-secondary education, and exclude public universities and colleges from the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. As tuition fees and the cost of living continue to rise, CAUT recommended that the budget permanently doubles the value of the Canada Student Grant. Moreover, this budget supplies no new operating funding nor investments in basic research. 

Budget 2023 highlights for post-secondary education 

  • Increasing Canada Student Grants by 40% in 2023-2024 
  • Raising the interest-free Canada Student Loan limit from $210 to $300 per week of study 
  • Waiving the requirement for mature students, aged 22 years or older, to undergo credit screening to qualify for federal student grants and loans for the first time 
  • $197.7 million in 2024-2025 to extend the Student Work Placement Program 
  • $108.6 million over three years, starting in 2023-2024, to expand the College and Community Innovation Program 

Academic staff meet in-person to discuss ‘post-pandemic’ bargaining and organizing 

CAUT held its first in-person Collective Bargaining and Organizing Forum in March after a three-year pandemic hiatus. More than 70 academic staff from 36 faculty associations and nine provinces attended. 

In a keynote address, Robert Hickey, an associate professor of industrial relations at Queen’s University, spoke about how academic unions can shift beyond protecting against concessions towards emphasizing gains, bargaining for the common good, and promoting wins for the most disadvantaged in our unions. 

Academic staff took part in discussion groups and panels on collective bargaining and organizing, with conversations on how unions address the erosion of collegial decision-making, health and safety, equity, workload, and wage gains in the context of high inflation. 

Kevin MacKay, vice president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO) Local 240, presented the findings of OPSEU/SEFPO’s survey on work to rule as a job action strategy in Ontario colleges. 

Member News

Bargaining and job action updates

  • Members of the Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université Laval (SPUL) voted overwhelmingly to accept a tentative agreement brokered by a conciliator appointed by the Québec government. About 93% of SPUL members voted Wednesday evening to accept the deal. The union will make the details of the new collective agreement public in the coming days. As the university’s Board of Directors also endorsed the deal, professors went back to work on March 30, with classes set to resume no later than April 3. SPUL members went on strike on February 20 for a fair contract. 
  • The University of Prince Edward Island Faculty Association (UPEIFA) members have been on strike for more than a week to secure mental health benefits, an increase in the number of full-time faculty, and improved wages. CAUT Defence Fund members landed in Charlottetown last Friday and joined the picket lines in solidarity with the UPEI faculty. UPEIFA members have also received the support of academic staff associations from across the country. 

Apply today – J.H. Stewart Reid Memorial Fellowship for Doctoral Studies 

The J.H. Stewart Reid Memorial Fellowship for Doctoral Studies is open for submissions until April 30. Visit to apply and for more information. 

The J.H. Stewart Reid Memorial Fellowship Trust was founded to honour the memory of the first executive secretary of CAUT. Each year a fellowship for $5,000 is awarded, tenable for one year of a doctoral program in any field of study at a Canadian university. 

Obituary: Carla Lipsig-Mummé 

Professor Emerita Carla Lipsig-Mummé, who died peacefully on January 20, founded and led Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW) – a seven-year (2014-2021) Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) project.  

Her pioneering work as the principal ACW investigator influenced the release of Confronting Climate Change on Campus, CAUT’s three-step action plan, which academic staff associations and their members can use to reduce the carbon footprint of post-secondary institutions and fight climate change.  

Throughout her distinguished research and activism career, Lipsig-Mummé highlighted workplaces and work as major contributors to the greenhouse gas emissions created by human activity. She also brought together labour unions and academics to conduct ground-breaking research on work and workers’ justice. 

She retired in June 2022 after 32 years at York University. 

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