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.

July 16, 2020

U of M law dean's term cut short
Winnipeg Free Press
THE University of Manitoba dean who suddenly took a leave from his post at Robson Hall in the spring is no longer employed by the institution.

Minister Mendicino announces changes to facilitate online learning for international students
Government of Canada
International students make immense cultural and social contributions to Canada, and generate more than $21 billion in economic activity. Since the onset of the pandemic, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, has made a number of temporary policy changes to support and reassure international students and learning institutions.

U of T develops LGBTQ+ focused health curriculum for medical residents
University Affairs
University of Toronto researchers aim to equip doctors with the knowledge and tools to better care for LGBTQ+ patients, as COVID-19 further widens health inequities.

Canadian student charged international tuition at UNBSJ says change based on Chinese name
Yukie Xie woke up one morning in May to find that her summer semester tuition at the University of New Brunswick had gone from $4,000 to $13,000.

What it was like attending a university with a prof who touted racist 'pseudo-science'
When Geraldine Moriba attended Western University in the '80s, she says she was constantly asked to engage in "humiliating and dehumanizing" debates about her own intelligence as a Black woman.

Dear Universities, Your Anti-Racism Workshops Aren’t Nearly Enough
The Tyee
It can be difficult to point out the racism that we see around us, sometimes because we’re so accustomed to it that it feels like pointing out that we breathe air, other times because we know that the consequences for pointing out racism can be significant — from interpersonal conflict, to professional sanction, to being kicked out of the House of Commons.

Survey: Self-Doubt Is a Barrier to College
Inside Higher Ed
Nearly half of adults who responded to a national survey said self-doubt is one of the largest challenges they would face if they enrolled in a postsecondary education or training program.

Human Rights Commission says Concordia University should change how it deals with sexual assault complaints
Montreal Gazette
The Quebec Human Rights Commission is calling on Concordia University to change the way it handles sexual violence complaints and to compensate a student who felt abandoned by the school after being assaulted on campus.

Province of Manitoba
As part of #RestartMB, Manitoba’s roadmap to recovery, the Manitoba government is expanding its ‘Back to Work’ wage subsidy program and providing additional financial support for businesses to bring more Manitobans back, Premier Brian Pallister announced today.

Manitoba expands 'Back to Work' wage-subsidy program
Winnipeg Free Press
Manitoba is beefing up its back-to-work wage-subsidy program, but help may come too late for cash-starved employers.

#BuildBackBetter: Reclaim work life balance and push for a 4-day workweek
If there is one thing all workers have in common, it is the frenzied nature of our working lives and the need for better work life balance.

Alberta doctors take out newspaper ads in hopes of reaching agreement with UCP
Global News
The Alberta Medical Association is sending a message to the province’s health minister through full-page newspaper ads in the hopes of reaching a new agreement with the UCP.

The Pandemic’s Toll on Women
Foreign Affairs
It began as a mysterious disease, a novel coronavirus soon designated SARS-CoV-2. As countries shut down their economies to slow its spread, it became a global recession as well. Then, in April, the United Nations warned of another dimension to the emergency—a “shadow pandemic” of violence against women raging behind closed doors.

July 15, 2020

Firms facing tough choices as pandemic continues
Winnipeg Free Press
One in five Canadian businesses will look to further staffing cuts, bankruptcies or closures should COVID-19 conditions remain the same as they do today, suggests a new survey by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Federal benefit access rate far from equal
Winnipeg Free Press
Urban Indigenous people are not accessing the COVID-19 emergency benefit as much as the general population, despite similar job losses, according to data obtained by the Free Press.

Premier Brian Pallister calls on federal government to redesign CERB program
Premier Brian Pallister is again criticizing the Canadian emergency response benefit (CERB), calling on the federal government to make changes to ensure it doesn't penalize Canadians who want to return to work.

Province of Manitoba
The Manitoba government is calling on the federal government to change the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) so it does not penalize Canadians wanting to return to work, Premier Brian Pallister announced today.

CERB is dead, but a new EI will live, as the pandemic leads to more lasting policy changes
Globe and Mail
Those emergency CERB benefits of $2,000 a month are set to disappear in six weeks. What’s on deck to replace them is an expanded, CERB-like form of employment insurance – one that’s easier to get and covers more people.

Manitoba health-care workers to have more access to PPE after complaints from nurses union
Front-line health-care workers in Manitoba will have easier access to personal protective equipment, after the province loosened rules around the use of supplies, such as the coveted N95 masks.

B.C.’s $10-million quarantine program seen as model for how to treat migrant workers
Globe and Mail
It has cost British Columbia about $10-million so far, but the province’s program to quarantine migrant workers in hotels while paying for their food and accommodation is estimated to have prevented more than two dozen potential COVID-19 outbreaks at farms and greenhouses.

Legal Aid Ontario lawyers organizing against the odds: A case study of professional workers unionizing
Canada  is  not  the  first  country  that  comes  to  mind  when  thinking  about  hostilities  to  organizing labour unions, particularly when compared with countries such as Columbia, with its decades-long campaign of organized violence against trade unionists, or China and its attempts to repress a democratic trade union movement that is separate from the state. However, Canada is far from an ideal environment for organizing. Despite being a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) since its inception in 1919, Canada only ratified one of the ILO’s foundational conventions; namely resolution number 98: Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining in 2017. Remaining countries on the short list of those who have not ratified resolution number 98 include China, Qatar, and the United States of America (ILO, n.d.). There continues to be major organizing barriers in Canada, even though they differ in degree than those experienced in the aforementioned countries.

Roughly 13,000 health care workers file workplace injury claims tied to COVID-19
Globe and Mail
Roughly 13,000 health care workers in Canada have filed workplace injury claims tied to the coronavirus, representing the majority of COVID-19-related submissions across the country.

Defending tuition hike, UNB says experience next year 'won't be inferior at all'
The University of New Brunswick will not back down on its two per cent tuition increase, despite opposition by thousands  of students who say they should not be charged more for a year of mostly online courses.

A Bad Fit?
Inside Higher Ed
Faculty search committees often pick candidates based on their supposed fit. But rather than a defined metric, fit is a highly subjective concept that opens the door to racial and other biases, according to a new study in The Journal of Higher Education.

July 14, 2020

Pandemic underlines need to revamp academic system that disadvantages parenting researchers and women
University of Lethbridge
The COVID-19 pandemic pressure tests our societies in many ways and reveals often overlooked, long-existing and festering systemic challenges and disadvantages. One of the most universal experiences associated with the current pandemic has been the struggle of working parents forced to balance full-time, stay-at-home jobs with the challenge of parenting and home-schooling.

Students at St. Francis Xavier University protest wording of COVID-19 waiver
Globe and Mail
A group of students, alumni and some staff at St. Francis Xavier University are pushing back against a legal waiver that students are required to sign if they want to return to classrooms in the fall amid a global pandemic.

83% of teachers surveyed express concerns about returning to school in September
Globe and Mail
Thérèse Forsythe usually spends some of her summers planning course work for September, despite being on break. The preparations give the Wolfville, N.S., high-school math teacher time to focus on building relationships with her new students during the first three months of class, she says.

Alberta universities plan to do away with dormitory residences during COVID-19 pandemic
First-year University of Calgary students who were destined for dormitory-style residences will now be moved to apartment-style residences to allow for better physical distancing due to COVID-19 — but the move comes with a price increase of $3,000.

First-year students will pay more to live on campus at University of Calgary
CTV News
First-year students will need to be relocated this fall after the University of Calgary opted to close its dormitory-style housing on campus due to the number of shared common spaces.

Face coverings now required on McMaster University campuses
In the Hammer
Face coverings are now required in all indoor public places at all McMaster University locations, the school announced last week.

Chinese university sacks professor who criticized President Xi, friends say
National Post
A Beijing law professor who has been an outspoken critic of China’s President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party was fired by his university after being released from a nearly week-long detention, his friends said.

Parents, trapped: Lack of child care could undermine economic recovery and hurt women, but the solution is expensive
Globe and Mail
There should be laughter, the unrelenting doo-doo beat of Baby Shark, and about 150 children filling the Compass Early Learning and Care daycare on this bright summer’s day.

Colleges Face Rising Revolt by Professors
New York Times
College students across the country have been warned that campus life will look drastically different in the fall, with temperature checks at academic buildings, masks in half-empty lecture halls and maybe no football games.

Over 200 universities, 17 US states sue over foreign student rule
Seventeen US states and more than 200 universities are taking legal action to challenge the Trump administration's new restrictions on international students, arguing that the policy jeopardises students' safety and forces institutions to reconsider new plans for the coming semester that they have spent months preparing.

More than 200 universities back lawsuit over Trump’s international student restrictions
Global News
More than 200 universities are backing a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s new restrictions on international students, arguing that the policy jeopardizes students’ safety and forces schools to reconsider fall plans they have spent months preparing.

National coalition of labor unions to stage July 20 walkout against racism, police brutality
New York Daily News
A national walkout in protest of police brutality and racism will take place in various cities across the country on July 20 — part of a series of social justice events organized by a new coalition of labor unions and police reform groups.

Back Pay Stickers
On June 11, CUPW received Arbitrator Elizabeth MacPherson’s decision regarding the collective agreements for our two bargaining units at Canada Post: Urban Operations and Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers. In her decision, she awarded both units well-deserved wage increases, going back to 2018.

Healthcare union launching 'political action' against Ontario emergency orders
A union representing Ontario health-care workers says it will announce “political action” this morning in response to the province potentially extending its emergency powers.

Health-care unions take Quebec to court over emergency health measures
CTV News
The unions representing Quebec private (FIQP) and public (FIQ) health workers petitioned the Superior Court on Monday to end what they consider to be a “denial of democracy.”

July 13, 2020

Tuition hikes exacerbating existing challenges for international students
Policy Options
The federal government has rolled out a $9-billion aid package for Canadian students affected by the pandemic. But not only have many international students been left out of the program because of its eligibility criteria; some are being asked to pay even higher tuition fees.

St. Francis Xavier University wants students to sign COVID-19 liability waiver
Students at a Nova Scotia university must sign a COVID-19 liability waiver in order to attend classes in the fall.

Diverse representation needed on school boards
Winnipeg Free Press
If the education system is to address structural racism, the issue of representation on school boards matters.

Manitoba Education gave $1.1 million to WE since 2015
The Manitoba government has provided more than $1 million to the WE organization over the past five years.

Kindergarten to Grade 12: What schools could look like in September, by region
Global News
As restaurants, storefronts and other public places slowly begin to reopen across Canada after coronavirus-related closures, questions remain about what measures may be in place when students and teachers return to school in the fall.

Covid-19 Reveals Global Need to Improve Education Systems
Human Rights Watch
Over the past several days, governments and global policy makers have been meeting online to discuss progress towards the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs). Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 is at the center of their agenda. They should also acknowledge the pandemic’s impact on education.

Job stats show Manitoba economy bouncing back
Winnipeg Free Press
Manitoba's labour force recovery is the second strongest among the provinces, but who deserves the credit for it is in dispute.

Review takes deep dive into mandated city services for first time in 17 years
Winnipeg Free Press
An executive policy committee meeting set for next week will include the first review of services the city is mandated to provide in 17 years.

Ottawa didn’t enforce rules for employers of migrant farm workers during pandemic
Globe and Mail
The federal government allowed some employers of migrant farm workers to submit three-year-old housing inspection reports in order to secure labour during the pandemic, instead of requiring up-to-date evidence of compliance with the temporary foreign worker program.

U.S. Ranked Worst for Workers’ Rights Among Major Economies
The U.S. has the worst record among major developed countries when it comes to workers’ rights, according to a survey of labor unions.

Alberta doctors accuse government of searching for scab workers as 200 job applications go online
National Post
Locked in a dispute that has already led to some of its physicians leaving the province, the government of Alberta has posted nearly 200 job openings for doctors on a website that caters to international applicants.

Over 4,000 Shipbuilding Workers Are on Strike in Maine
The Bath Iron Works strike of over 4,300 shipbuilding workers in Bath, Maine — by far the largest strike in the United States right now — is approaching its third week. Management has cut off health insurance, laid off over 200 members of a sister union local, ramped up subcontracting, and called in strikebreakers.

July 10, 2020

Sexual violence reporting project to link campus resources
Winnipeg Free Press
Students, staff and instructors at 11 post-secondary institutes in the province will soon be able to anonymously report incidents of sexual violence on campus and access related resources all in one online place.

Advocates fear what loss of education grant will mean for students with children
The Alberta government's decision to scrap two financial support grants in favour of a more general grant could make post-secondary education less accessible for students with children or other dependents, advocates say.

Job cuts come as part of balancing UNBC budget
Prince George Citizen
The University of Northern British Columbia Board of Governors have approved an $93.6-mllion operating budget for 2020-21 that trimmed $3.4 million in expenses at the cost of 21 jobs and increased tuition fees to make ends meet.

COVID-19 pandemic will reshape how Canadian kids experience school in the next academic year
Globe and Mail
When children return to school this fall, they might be inside the classroom for only two days a week. They might not be allowed to carry backpacks, and their teachers might be equipped with microphones to broadcast their lessons to students watching at home.

Almost half of Australian PhD students considering disengaging from studies due to pandemic
The Guardian
The economic impact of Covid-19 is threatening to empty out Australia’s talent pool of researchers, with 45% of current PhD candidates considering disengaging from their studies due to the financial pressure of the pandemic.

Calgary kids to rally for Alberta education funding
LiveWire Calgary
Eleven-year-old Nora Vukadinovic is putting the power back in the hands of students by marching for a better education this Friday, July 10.

Canada’s economy adds record 953,000 jobs in June; unemployment rate falls
Globe and Mail
Canadian employment rose by a record-setting 953,000 people in June as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions eased across the country.

Via Rail cutting about 1,000 jobs amid struggles over COVID-19 pandemic
Via Rail is temporarily laying off approximately 1,000 unionized workers, citing the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the travel industry.

PSAC secures improved Phoenix damages settlement
PSAC has reached an equitable settlement for 140,000 federal public service workers for compensation due to Phoenix damages. 

Deal reached for Phoenix damages, PA group and common issues
In a victory for federal public service workers who have gone above and beyond to support Canadians during this pandemic, PSAC has reached a tentative agreement that provides fair wages, no concessions, and improved working conditions for the 70,000 members of the PA group, and Treasury Board common issues.

Health care workers reeling from Ontario government attack on their basic rights: CUPE seeks a mandate from its members to respond forcefully
CUPE Ontario
On Tuesday, the provincial government introduced legislation suspending many workplace protections for health care staff for a period of at least one year. The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/Canadian Union of Public Employees is in the process of securing a mandate from its hospital members to oppose the legislation in a meaningful way.

Mental health linked to quality of employer support during COVID-19: Report
Canadian Occupational Safety
For the third consecutive month, Canadians’ mental health score remains negative in June amid the COVID-19 pandemic even though most of the country is entering new phases of reopening, according to a report from Morneau Shepell.

What is a union and what is it not?
Citizens' Press
The Alberta majority government has moved a series of bills that, when looked at together, drastically undermine unions in the province. Bill 1, passed in May, makes it illegal to protest ‘essential infrastructure’. Bill 32 makes multiple changes to labour law, restricts picketing activities, creates an onerous system where members must opt-in for dues used for ‘political activity’, and more. Finally, Bill 26 changes the Constitutional Referendum Amendment Act allowing big money to pour into Alberta politics.