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April Advocate: Solidarity with AMPL - Alberta Bill 18 - No confidence vote at Saint Mary's - Federal investmets in research

Every month we send our supporters a newsletter with the latest CAUT and post-secondary education sector news. This newsletter was published on April 30, 2024. Subscribe to get the newsletter straight to your inbox.

April 2024

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96th CAUT Council meeting

Stay tuned for highlights from CAUT’s 96th Council meeting. From April 25 to 27, delegates met in Ottawa to discuss key issues facing academic staff associations, elect leadership, and honour the collective achievements of academic staff across the country. 

Below are some key highlights.

Solidarity with McGill law professors

Delegates expressed their solidarity with members of the Association of McGill Professors of Law (AMPL), who took to the picket lines on April 24 after more than a year and a half of stalled negotiations. More than 95% of the AMPL membership voted 76% in favour of an indefinite strike.

Fresh off the picket lines on the third day of Council, AMPL President Evan Fox-Decent thanked delegates for their support. On behalf of AMPL, he received a $1 million cheque for financial assistance from CAUT’s Defence Fund. 

You can help show your support for AMPL by taking any of the following actions:

Alberta government’s Bill 18

Delegates voted unanimously to condemn the Alberta government’s proposed Provincial Priorities Act (Bill 18), which would give the government the power to review federal research grants. On April 17, CAUT released a statement calling on the Government of Alberta to protect scientific integrity and academic freedom, and to prevent the potential loss of millions of dollars in funding for the province’s university and college researchers by immediately withdrawing or amending Bill 18. 

“Applying a political litmus test to research funding is an unprecedented attack on scientific independence, research integrity and academic freedom,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Bill 18 opens the door to political censorship that has no place in a democratic society such as ours.” 

Faculty vote of no confidence at Saint Mary’s in Halifax

Delegates voted unanimously to support the Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union (SMUFU) vote of no confidence in the university’s president and the chair of the board of governors. SMUFU members voted 91% in favour of the motion of no confidence on April 9. They are decrying the administration’s lack of collegial governance as the university faces financial problems. 

Calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

Delegates also voted to join the call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and for the release of all hostages. The motion also calls on Canadian universities to support the Scholars at Risk and Palestinian Students and Scholars at Risk programs. 

Federal budget provides welcome investments in research

In its response to the federal government’s budget, CAUT welcomed much-needed increases to graduate and post-doctoral fellowships and to core research funding. 

Investments in research include: 

  • $1.8 billion over five years to core research grant funding at CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC – an approximately 30% increase 
  • An increase to the annual value of master’s and doctoral student scholarships to $27,000 and $40,000 respectively, and post-doctoral fellowships to $70,000 

CAUT President Peter McInnis said: “This investment in Canada’s next generation of researchers will help recruit promising scholars and support them as they advance our understanding of the world around us.” 

CAUT presentations at parliamentary committees

On April 16, CAUT Vice-President Robin Whitaker appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Science and Research, as part of its study on the distribution of federal government funding among Canada’s post-secondary institutions

On April 11, CAUT executive director David Robinson appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to support Bill C-59, which would exclude post-secondary education institutions from the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.  

Fabrice Colin, president, and Linda St-Pierre, executive director and chief steward, of the Laurentian University Faculty Association, also appeared before the committee, to support the bill. 

Quick links and reads 

  • #DayOfMourning: CAUT statement 
  • Stop Ontario’s Bill 166: the Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act would give the province’s minister of colleges and universities unprecedented control over campus anti-racism and mental health policies 

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