Labour and education in the news

Below are recent news stories on labour and education related issues.  Click the headline to be taken to the article. Some may require a subscription.

September 17, 2021

Province of Manitoba
The Manitoba government has established a Provincial Task Force on Poverty and Education that will examine the correlation between poverty and education and work in connection with the province’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

Manitoba collaboration pulls together and launches regionally specific Indigenization foundational guide
Brandon University
Elders, Knowledge Keepers, community members, and Indigenous organizations across Manitoba have ‘pulled together’ to work alongside Assiniboine Community College, Brandon University (BU), and Campus Manitoba to adapt the Pulling Together Foundations Guide for western Manitoba.

Embattled BU cut sexual violence education co-ordinator hours
Winnipeg Free Press
Brandon University reduced the hours of its sole co-ordinator dedicated to sexual violence education and prevention on campus by 75 per cent amid COVID-19 budget constraints at the start of 2021.

U of C, MRU cancel in-person classes for rest of the week after new COVID rules announced
The University of Calgary and Mount Royal University are among multiple Alberta post-secondaries cancelling all in-person classes for the remainder of this week, in response to the provincial government implementing new COVID-19 restrictions and declaring a state of emergency.

Western University reveals new measures to fight sexual violence on campus: ‘We clearly have a culture problem’
Globe and Mail
The University of Western Ontario has announced new measures to tackle sexual violence and address its campus culture after allegations of sexual assault and the death of a student shook the university this week.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan ramping up green investments in net-zero push
Globe and Mail
Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan aims to vastly increase clean-energy investments and push companies in its $228-billion portfolio to set paths to net-zero carbon emissions, as one of Canada’s largest institutional investors shifts its strategy to deal with climate risks.

Western University orientation leader shares personal account amid online reports of student assaults
Global News
After numerous online posts about of sexual assault and possible druggings during the first week of school at Western University, one orientation leader is sharing her first-hand account of what happened.

University of Sask. says 91 per cent of campus community now fully vaccinated
CTV News
The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) has reached 91 per cent of fully vaccinated people on its campus for the fall term.

Students, staff lash out at University of Toronto for lack of COVID-19 prevention protocols, posting allegedly 'fake' photos
Yahoo News
Now that universities have reopened campuses for the first time since the pandemic, one is facing criticism for not doing enough when it comes to proper distancing protocols.

UK university staff to vote on strike action in coming academic year
The Guardian
University staff are to be balloted on strike action in the coming academic year, reigniting their battle with employers over steep cuts to pension benefits just as campuses recover from the effects of Covid disruption.

Sweeping public health order remains unsigned
Winnipeg Free Press
More than three weeks after Manitoba announced it would require all provincial employees who work with vulnerable populations to either be fully immunized by Oct. 31 or face regular testing, the public health order making it mandatory has not been finalized.

UFCW wants province to declare Sept. 30 a stat holiday
Winnipeg Free Press
The union that represents grocery store workers in Manitoba is calling on the province to declare Sept. 30 a statutory holiday.

Another Quebec ER had to shut down because of a lack of nurses, who are exhausted
Health officials in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield west of Montreal say the Suroît Hospital emergency room has now reopened, after it was forced to shut down last night because of an acute staffing shortage.

Government employee unions endorse vaccine pass
Regina Leader-Post
Unions representing government workers in Saskatchewan are throwing their support behind the province’s announcement regarding proof of vaccination for employees, but are hoping the policy makes room for medical and religious exemptions.

Canada's unions united with nurses in demanding urgent government action
Financial Post
As the pandemic strains Canada’s public health care systems, nurses are sounding the alarm that urgent action is needed by all levels of government to fix Canada’s nursing crisis.

Gen Z battles to bring back unions, one Starbucks at a time
Yahoo Finance

Stressful working conditions, a lack of training, and slim hopes of a pay rise are just some of the things that anger Jaz Brisack, 24, about working at Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, USA.

Spain, Unions Agree to Increase Minimum Wage
Spain’s Labor Ministry and unions agreed to increase the minimum wage for the second time in less than two years.

September 16, 2021

AESES-UM Temporary Layoff and Recall Grievances
Following nearly sixteen (16) months of working through the grievance process, AESES is pleased to announce the resolution of our 2020 layoff and recall grievances. The final settlement totals approximately $1.5 million dollars and forms the largest grievance settlement in AESES’ history. Also included in this resolution was the restoration of pension, seniority, vacation and benefits premiums recovery.

'They actively tried to sweep this under the rug'
Winnipeg Free Press
Five years after a scandal at Brandon University prompted the school to create a sexualized violence policy and hire an expert to implement it, senior employees overlooked both when they undertook an investigation into recent allegations of sexual misconduct.

1st-year enrolment at Sudbury's Laurentian University down 33%
Enrolment of first-year students at Sudbury's Laurentian University dropped by about 33 per cent this fall compared to the same period last year, although universities provincewide have seen a slight rise in newcomers, according to the Ontario Universities' Application Centre (OUAC).

University of Toronto under fire for lack of physical distancing in classrooms
University of Toronto is under fire from students and faculty who are concerned about a lack of physical distancing in classrooms.

University of Western Ontario students call for change following allegations of sexual violence on campus
Globe and Mail
Students at the University of Western Ontario are calling for systemic change to address the threat of sexual violence on campus after allegations that young women were drugged and sexually assaulted in residence last week.

Parents concerned as classmates of COVID-positive students exempt from isolating in Saskatchewan
Globe and Mail
Aaron Genest’s Grade 10 son sat in three different classrooms at a Saskatoon high school over three days with a student who later tested positive for COVID-19.

Western students to walk out Friday to protest year's troubling start
National Post
Students at Western University are planning a walkout Friday to demand action against sexual violence on campus amid swirling speculation over assaults at a first-year residence.

Laurentian University’s collapse shows federal government must protect public institutions from private-sector restructuring
Toronto Star
Even though Laurentian University announced its insolvency crisis in early February, fallout at the small institution in Sudbury, Ont. continues to this day.

Laurentian University faculty going after insurance money, claiming mismanagement
The union representing Laurentian University faculty is going after insurance money held by the insolvent university, saying the university’s leadership mismanaged its finances.

Globe and Mail workers reach tentative deal with management, averting strike action
Niagara Falls Review
Union representatives at the Globe and Mail reached a tentative agreement with the company’s management just hours before its midnight deadline, averting a strike at one of Canada’s largest newspapers during the hottest news cycle of the year.

Majority of students, staff and faculty fully vaccinated at University of Ottawa
CTV News
The University of Ottawa says more than 90 per cent of faculty, staff and students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as the university implements a mandatory vaccination policy to step foot on campus.

U of S masking policy extended; events to require vaccine proof or negative test
Saskatoon Star Phoenix
The University of Saskatchewan Council will meet this week and receive updates on the university’s finances and COVID-19 measures, along with a host of other business on the agenda tied to the kickoff the 2021-22 fall term.

Universities overlooked in the election campaign
University Affairs
With the pandemic dominating the debates since the start of the federal election campaign, university education and research are flying a bit under the radar. Yet universities are at the heart of many issues essential to Canada’s future.

The high price of donations
University Affairs
In his 1871 volume, The Conduct of Life, American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson pithily observed that “money often costs too much, and power and pleasure are not cheap.”

Wage premium for nurses hasn't solved staff shortage
Winnipeg Free Press
When it was clear there were not going to be enough nurses to fully staff all of the emergency rooms, intensive care units and COVID-19 wards during the pandemic, the Progressive Conservative government came up with a plan: a $6-per-hour premium for any nurse willing to go directly to the front lines of critical care.

Health care unions say use of emergency order a blow to morale
Saskatoon Star Phoenix
Unions representing Saskatchewan health care workers say the provincial government disrespected their members this week when it used emergency powers to redeploy them to new jobs amid yet another wave of COVID-19 infections.

Amazon reaches agreement with trade unions in Italy
Yahoo Finance Inc has struck a deal with Italian trade unions promising to engage with them more in the running of operations in the country.

Hate Work? Join a Union and Make Your Boss Pay
The facts are this: Work is terrible whichever way you look at it, and bosses very rarely want to make your life better, regardless of how “flexible” you’re galaxy-brained into thinking your zero hours contract is, or how much free beer the company once made available to you at 3PM on a Friday.

September 15, 2021

‘It’s a safe place’: University of Manitoba Students’ Union says members should be comfortable on campus
Global News
The Students’ Union at Manitoba’s largest post-secondary institution is adamant: campus is a safe place for their members.

Brandon University coach on leave after sexually suggestive behaviour alleged
Winnipeg Free Press
The head coach of women’s soccer at Brandon University remained on the job for months despite a school investigation that concluded he acted inappropriately with student athletes.

Education puts new lens on Canadian history
Winnipeg Free Press
At The Forks, you will find a 3.5-metre bison made out of books.

Pallister gives back to BU
Brandon Sun
A famous former Brandon University Bobcat came home Monday morning to give a gift to his alma mater.

Safe September chides Manitoba for lack of transparency about COVID-19 cases in schools
The recent reappearance of COVID-19 cases in schools is just the tip of the iceberg, says an advocacy group for the safety of teachers and students in Manitoba.

Toronto public-school teachers, staff could lose job if not fully vaccinated
Globe and Mail
Toronto’s public-school teachers and staff will need to have had two doses of COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 1 or face disciplinary action that could include the termination of their employment.

Abolish Trump-era ‘China Initiative’, academics urge, amid racial profiling criticism
The Guardian
Calls are growing to abolish a controversial Trump-era initiative that looks for Chinese spies at US universities, which critics say has resulted in racial profiling and harmed technological competitiveness.

City of Winnipeg to require COVID-19 vaccination for staff who work regularly with public
The City of Winnipeg will require all staff who have ongoing direct contact with the public to be fully vaccinated.

City opts for vaccine mandate for front-line workers
Winnipeg Free Press
The City of Winnipeg will require front-line staff who work with vulnerable populations or have close contact with the public to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 15.

7 staff members at St. Boniface Hospital's COVID-19 unit resigned in 9 days: memo
St. Boniface Hospital has seen seven staff resignations in the span of nine days in one of its COVID-19 units, according to a memo emailed to staff at the Winnipeg hospital.

Unions say Sask. gov't emergency order puts 'the bulk of the pandemic on health-care workers'
Unions say they're disappointed the Saskatchewan government has resorted to using an emergency order to redirect health-care workers amid the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but hasn't widely mandated measures such as masks and a provincially-enforced vaccine passport system.

Teamsters Local Union 362 Files for Union Vote at Amazon Facility in Nisku, AB
Teamsters Canada
Teamsters Local Union 362 filed for a vote on union representation at the Amazon YEG 1 Fulfillment Centre in Nisku, AB, late yesterday afternoon.  This represents the first step in the Teamsters Canada union organizing campaign to bring Amazon to the bargaining table.

Teamsters to hold unionization vote at Amazon warehouse in Alberta
Globe and Mail
A group of warehouse workers in central Alberta could become the first Amazon employees in Canada to hold a unionization vote, and the union behind the campaign says they won’t be the last.

B.C. offers incentives like child care to recruit and retain health-care workers
Globe and Mail
The British Columbia government is offering nurses and other health-care professionals incentives like child care and support for housing and travel as part of a recruitment drive in the northern region.

Unions reject O'Toole's worker-friendly pitch, campaign to prevent Conservative win
CTV News
Despite Erin O'Toole's attempts to portray himself as an ally of workers, the Conservative leader appears to remain public enemy No. 1 so far as Canada's labour unions are concerned.

September 14, 2021

Hope and hesitancy at the start of Fall Term
UM Today
Welcome everyone to the beginning of another academic year. The leaves on campus are just beginning to turn their autumn colours, and more people have returned to enjoy it. Though I see more masks than smiles these days, I am still encouraged by the increase of students on-campus and I know that cautious is the right approach as we resume more in-person activity.

School division drafts extracurricular activity vax mandate
Winnipeg Free Press
A Winnipeg school division has proposed mandatory COVID-19 vaccination or regular testing for all of its students who want to play sports and participate in extracurricular activities.

Manitoba school-based vaccine clinics to start next week with permission required for those under 16
Manitoba schools will host COVID-19 vaccine clinics next week to help ensure that eligible young people have an opportunity to get immunized.

Class at Steinbach elementary school goes remote after COVID-19 case
A Grade 1 class in the Hanover School Division is back to remote learning days after the start of the school year.

Simon Fraser University moves to significantly increase Black representation among faculty
The Simon Fraser University senate has voted in favour of hiring at least 15 more Black tenure-track faculty members to improve inclusion at the B.C. school.

COVID-19 vaccination debates cause rifts on university campuses
Globe and Mail
A professor at Huron University College was placed on paid leave for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine. A professor at the University of British Columbia says he is persona non grata in the department of medicine for raising doubts about the need for vaccination in some populations. And a professor at Brock told students in an e-mail that the university was acting immorally by imposing mandatory vaccination rules and that they shouldn’t be bullied into getting a shot.

Western University reels as student dies from assault; social media sparks investigation into alleged sexual violence
Globe and Mail
The University of Western Ontario is reeling after a first-year student died of his injuries following an early-morning assault and police opened a separate investigation into social-media reports of young women being drugged and subject to sexual violence at a university residence.

COVID-19 testing protocols revealed for unvaccinated education staff in Ontario
A week into the school year and the province is now out with guidance for COVID-19 testing requirements for unvaccinated education workers.

Justin Trudeau Says He’s Pausing Interest on Student Loans. But Students’ Assets Could Be Seized If They Miss Payments.
Press Progress
Despite its claims, the Liberal Party’s promise to pause student loan interest won’t protect them from stiff penalties and potential “asset seizures” for missing payments.

We can go on strike anytime ― ASUU
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has said its members can embark on strike anytime, as the Federal Government is reneging on its promise to implement the Memorandum of Action, MOA, the two parties signed last December.

Winnipeg firefighters, paramedics must now disclose vaccination status, memo says
More than 1,000 firefighters and paramedics working for the City of Winnipeg must now disclose their vaccination status, and one city councillor wants the practice expanded to other city staff.

Sask. uses emergency powers to move health staff, quashing union talks
Saskatoon Star Phoenix
Saskatchewan’s government has invoked emergency powers to redeploy thousands of health-care workers to the COVID-19 pandemic’s front lines.

BC’s Hospitality Workers Ratify New Contract Across Province, Win Extended Recall Rights Beyond COVID-19 Pandemic
Unite Here Local 40
Over 1000 hospitality workers in hotels, motels, pubs, and liquor stores across 14 communities in BC overwhelmingly voted by 80% to ratify a new four-year agreement with Hospitality Industrial Relations (HIR). This contract includes an extension of recall rights for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic — through to July 1, 2023 or when the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the pandemic is over. After an 18-month effort, BC’s hospitality workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, have achieved a new standard securing the right of workers to return to their jobs as business recovers.

Businesses around the world struggle to attract workers
Financial Post
Businesses around the world want to hire but face a similar dilemma: attracting workers.

September 13, 2021

'Getting these kids back on track:' First Nations adapt to school year lost to COVID
Winnipeg Free Press
Shamattawa First Nation chief and council made the difficult decision to shut down the reserve's only school last November after a COVID-19 outbreak devastated the remote northern Manitoba community.

Manitoba wildfire evacuees starting school year in hotel rooms rather than classrooms
The new school year has started with a learning curve of a different sort for Amanda Martin, William Keeper and their family.

You don't need to be in a classroom to learn. Enter the Forest School.
Parents Dr. Melanie Morris and Dr. Jon McGavock say they were nervous right along with their son, Vin, on his first day at forest school.

Heroes of the fight against Bill 64
Winnipeg Free Press
LINDA Ballantyne (Frontier), Laurie Dyck (Garden Valley), Betty Edel (Winnipeg), Penny Helgason (Evergreen), Louise Johnston (Louis Riel), Jan McIntyre (Prairie Spirit), and Wendy Bloomfield (Seine River) — these are some of my local heroes.

Charlottetown area schools closed after COVID-19 outbreak among students under 19
Winnipeg Free Press
For the first time since the start of the pandemic Prince Edward Island is declaring a COVID-19 outbreak in a school.

Former president of Fort McMurray college bullied staff, made irresponsible decisions, report finds
Former Keyano College president Trent Keough was found to have grossly mismanaged senior-level employees, public funds and the delivery of a public service, following a joint investigation by the Alberta Public Interest Commissioner and the college's board of governors.

1,500 Alberta Student Aid applications from last school year are still under review
The province says it continues to work through delays in processing Alberta Student Aid applications from the 2020-21 school year that were put under review, but there are still at least 1,500 left — and many students have already completed their programs.

Education ministry says 90,000 CO2 readers to be installed in classrooms across Quebec
CTV News
Classrooms throughout Quebec will be equipped with 90,000 carbon dioxide readers by the end of the year even though thousands of students have already returned to school.

Afghan women can study at university but classes must be segregated, Taliban decree
Globe and Mail
Women in Afghanistan will be allowed to study in universities as the country seeks to rebuild after decades of war but gender-segregation and Islamic dress code will be mandatory, the Taliban’s new Higher Education Minister said on Sunday.

Barbara Kay: Academia's gender bias — how men are being pushed out of higher education
National Post
The feminization of higher education is proceeding apace. According to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse in the United States, 1.5 million fewer students are enrolled in higher education than in 2016, with men accounting for 71 per cent of the decline. Soon, two women will graduate for every man. The report envisions no reversal of this trend.

A New Normal For Online Education
The headline appeared in the New York Times on February 21, 1994: “Computers and Phones Pave New Path to College Degree.” The article characterized how the future of the college classroom “may be no classroom at all.” It went on to describe rising demand among students for “long-distance study” (the term online education hadn’t yet entered our vernacular). Among many faculty members quoted in the article, however, there was skepticism about teaching over a computer. 

Amazon Ups Ante for Employer-Paid Education and Training
Inside Higher Ed
Amazon announced last week that it will spend $1.2 billion by 2025 to expand its Career Choice program, paying 100 percent of the cost of tuition, fees and books for all of its U.S. employees.

Media Release: Campus action as report reveals university job devastation
Uni staff will launch a week of action as a new report lays bare the devastation of COVID in tertiary education, with close to one in five staff losing their jobs in 2021.

Amazon Canada hikes front-line worker pay and plans to hire 15,000 more people
Amazon Canada says it is hiring up to 15,000 more people in Canada and will boost the pay for its front-line workers to up to $21.65 an hour.

Sask. health-care unions say Moe's ultimatum on staffing agreement 'disturbing'
Health-care unions are upset Premier Scott Moe has given an ultimatum to reach an agreement by Monday on staffing to respond to COVID-19 pressures, or face an emergency order.

Alberta union leaders consider ignoring new legal restrictions on finances, picketing
Some Alberta union leaders say they have no intention of complying with new legal restrictions introduced by the province's United Conservative Party government.

Minimum wage, paid sick days, unionization: The election will determine whether progress continues
Welland Tribune
Constitutionally, labour law in Canada is mostly a provincial responsibility — including matters like the minimum wage, collective bargaining, and workplace health and safety. However, an important slice of the economy falls under federal jurisdiction. In industries like banking, interprovincial transportation and telecommunications, the federal government sets the labour rules.

The Film Industry Might Be on the Brink of a Major Strike
Inside Hook
In August, members of IATSE — the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union that employs tens of thousands of film and television workers — began taking to social media to recount their experiences with harmful working conditions and toxic environments on set. This initiative was part of a larger push by the union as they negotiate a new contract with the film industry’s largest studios.

Ukraine: ITUC concerned about wave of regressive labour laws

Several draft laws are being considered by the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) that are incompatible with international and regional labour standards. This has been confirmed by several reports, including by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the country.

Samsung Electronics talks with unions for 1st time
Korea JoongAng Daily
Samsung Electronics began its first-ever wage negotiations with unionized labor Monday, a month after the company signed its first official agreement with labor unions in 52 years.

President Joe Biden continues to take an ax to former President Donald Trump’s labor policies, removing all 10 of his predecessor’s appointees to the Federal Service Impasses Panel.