On Monday October 21st 2019, Canadians head to the polls. In recent years, we have seen much needed, but not enough investment, in basic research, improvements to the Canada Student Grants and Loans program, and increased support for Indigenous education. However, the last time the federal government increased core funding to the provinces to strengthen PSE was in 2007.
As a result, the foundation of our post-secondary education system is under strain. Faculty renewal is stalled, more and more academics are working on temporary contracts, without job security or compensation for research and service. Members from equity-seeking groups are under-represented in the academy and face discrimination, and costs of education for students continue to rise.
We need a strong federal partner to work with provinces and universities and colleges to improve affordability, access, and quality. This includes a federal government that will get science right by meeting recommended levels of research funding and close the gap in Indigenous education.
Together, we can make post-secondary education an election issue. To do this, we need you.
Mobilizing for the 2019 Federal Election
Our members are well positioned to help get out the vote. There are close electoral races across Canada this year, and each vote counts. Voter turnout is typically low, especially among those 18-24 years old. Although youth voter turnout was significantly higher for the 42nd general election in 2015 than in previous years, it was still below the overall voter participation rate. This disengagement by young Canadians has acted as a significant downward drag on overall turnout figures. Our members have the power to help mobilize students to get out to vote!! The UOITFA has listed below several ways our members can get involved in mobilizing for the Federal Election.
UOITFA Fair Employment Week Tabling: Wednesday October 9th 10am to 2pm
Come and see the UOITFA in the UA Atrium on Tuesday October 8th and Wednesday October 9th from 10am to 2pm as we talk to students and community members about the upcoming election and educate them about key election issues.
Host a Classroom Talk
CAUT has created a helpful PowerPoint presentation that our members can use to discuss the election with their students. The PowerPoint which is completely nonpartisan includes short blurbs on CAUT’s election issues and information on how to vote for students.
Engage on Social Media
The UOITFA is encouraging our members to use their social media to draw attention to election issues by tweeting and posting about them on social media using the hashtag #forourfuture and #makeitfair
Share How-to-Vote Resources with Students and Community Members
Our members can share links to Elections Canada information that lets students and community members know about the voting process. Including where, when and how to vote:
- Students and community members can find out how, when and where to vote at: https://www.elections.ca/content2.aspx?section=vote&document=index&lang=e
- Students and community members can find their voting districts and learn about the candidates running in their districts by entering their postal codes at: https://www.elections.ca/scripts/vis/FindED?L=e&PAGEID=20
Key Election Issues
The federal government supports post-secondary education in numerous ways. The current federal government has made some important investments in the post-secondary education system, including historic increases in basic research, enhanced funding for Indigenous education, infrastructure investments to modernize labs and classrooms, improvements to the Canada Student Loan and Grants Program, and initiatives to improve access for working adults.
While these are much needed investments, the post- secondary system itself remains under strain. The last increase in federal investment for core post-secondary education funding occurred in 2007, when the government enhanced the Canada Social Transfer by $800 million. This investment, while welcome, was made without agreements with the provinces to strengthen PSE. As a result, little has improved in the last decade.
Inadequate government funding of our colleges and universities has meant that many academics are working contract to contract, some earning less than a living wage. This growing reliance on contract positions is unfair. It is unfair for these academics who are forced into underemployment, their colleagues who have more service requirements and fewer research collaborators, and students as contract academics have limited time to prepare courses and work with students outside of the classroom.
- One-in-three academic staff in Canada work on precarious, short-term contracts.
- The number of university teachers working part- time, part-year expanded by 79% from 2005 to 2015.
- Two-thirds of contract academic staff surveyed by CAUT said their mental health has been negatively impacted by the contingent nature of their employment.
We know that a high-quality post-secondary education system is one that includes and values diverse voices and knowledge. Yet, academics from equity-seeking groups face discrimination. They are under-represented and on average earn less for a range of reasons, including over- representation in precarious work.
- Aboriginal academics remain significantly underrepresented in the academy, making up just 1.4% of all university professors and 3% of college instructors in 2016.
- Racialized, Aboriginal and women post-secondary teachers are less likely to have full-time, full-year (FTFY) employment. Full-time women university teachers on average earn 90 cents on the dollar earned by their male counterparts.
- The gap is deepest for racialized women college instructors who earn only 63 cents on the dollar and racialized women professors who earn an average 68 cents for every dollar.
Investing in basic research supports fundamental advances in knowledge that benefit all Canadians. The federal government’s 2017 Advisory Panel on Fundamental Science report found that investing in basic research is one of the highest yield investments a government can make. Recent investments, although much welcomed, fall far short of recommended levels. In this time of great change and challenge, we need to maintain a competitive level of science and research funding to deepen our understanding of the world and to find solutions to the problems that confront us.
- Investments in basic research are 40% below the Advisory Panel’s recommended levels of funding.
- Peer review committees for the tri-council agencies typically recommend support for about two-thirds of applications yet the majority of these go unfunded, due to lack of funds.
As public funding for our colleges and universities decreases, the cost of post-secondary education is increasingly downloaded onto students and their families through high tuition fees. Students who cannot afford these high up-front costs must take on unmanageable levels of debt in order to pursue their education.
- 46% of graduates have student loan debt.
- Average debt at graduation is $22,276.
- Over 8 in 10 Canadians agree that those without financial means to afford PSE should not have this experience denied to them.