Top Ten

April 18, 2013

Pro-life group sanctioned by uCalgary must wait for legal ruling

A judge has reserved her decision on whether a group of 7 University of Calgary pro-life students were wrongfully sanctioned for non-academic misconduct by the institution for repeatedly setting up graphic anti-abortion displays. The group, Campus Pro-Life, first came under fire in 2006 for a display showing images of aborted fetuses and comparing abortion to genocide casualties and Holocaust victims. They were told by uCalgary officials to turn the posters inward, away from passersby, but the group did not comply. They were found guilty of non-academic conduct in May 2010 and that decision was upheld on appeal. The group maintains that the university unreasonably interfered with their right to free expression by requiring them to put the signs out of public view. However, uCalgary argues that its requirement that the group conceal the signs was a reasonable limit on their free-speech rights and that there was a risk of someone responding violently to the “inherently confrontational” images. Calgary Herald | National Post

Postscript: June 19, 2014

A pro-life student group at the University of Calgary has won its 4-year battle with the university after a judge ordered the uCalgary board of governors to hear the students’ appeal. The board then allowed the appeal and overturned the original charges of non-academic misconduct and removed them from the students’ files. The charges were filed after the group refused to turn posters with graphic images away from public view, asserting that it was a violation of their rights to free expression.

Rural Alberta colleges worried about PSE cuts

While Alberta’s Lakeland College and Portage College have both announced cost-cutting measures to be taken on their respective campuses in the wake of the province’s funding cuts to PSE, a third college, Northern Lakes College, based in Slave Lake and serving 25 smaller communities in north-central Alberta, is worried about the impact of cuts on the “under-represented students” they serve -- including people who leave high school early, live in remote areas, in Aboriginal communities, and those who need high school upgrading to get into trades. Some of those people will also be affected by a $100 million cut to funding for adult education, said Northern Lakes president Rick Neidig.There are no high schools in some remote communities, which makes the college’s academic upgrading courses a critical component of getting people into the trades, he said. Meanwhile, Grande Prairie Regional College, with just over 7,000 students, lost $4 million in provincial funding and “it’s a game changer,” said president Don Gnatiuk. The plan to deal with the shortfall will be announced in early May, he said. Edmonton Journal

Calgary mayor urges MRU to stand up to province’s PSE cuts

In a letter to Mount Royal University’s board of governors on Wednesday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi called on the school to stand up to the Alberta government’s PSE funding cuts. MRU announced plans to axe a number of diploma and certificate programs on Tuesday in an effort to plug a $14 million budget hole. “I would encourage the leadership of MRU to stand up to the provincial government on behalf of its students, faculty, and community, rather than capitulate to the government’s bad policy,” Nenshi said in the letter. But Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk pointed out at the legislature that the proposed MRU program cuts haven’t yet been approved -- either by the university’s board or by him. Lukaszuk, who also serves as deputy premier, said he has to sign off on the elimination of any academic programs but refused to speculate on what he will do in the case of MRU or several northern Alberta colleges that have also announced major program cuts and layoffs. Calgary Herald

CÉGEPs say French language bill is “discriminatory”

After a month of polarized discussions on where the direction of language laws should be headed in Quebec, public hearings on the province’s controversial Bill 14 wrapped up on Thursday. Now that Quebecers have had their say, the government will have to decide whether or not to proceed with the bill that would strengthen the Charter of the French Language. If passed, the bill would require English-language CÉGEPs to give priority to anglophones over francophones. Richard Fillion, director general of Dawson College, told a special committee at the national assembly that the bill was discriminatory. “Anglophones…don’t want to be kept away from the rest of Quebec society. They want to interact with them, to live together,” he said. Another part of Bill 14 would only grant CÉGEP diplomas to students living in Quebec who have a government-approved level of spoken and written French. Montreal Gazette | CBC

Ahead of BC election, NDP promise substantial investment in skills training, education

BC NDP leader Adrian Dix announced on Wednesday that his government, if elected,  would tackle a looming skills shortage in the province by bringing back student grants, adding more training spaces and setting up a new scholarship fund for PSE students. Dix said that the NDP would invest $50 million in the non-repayable grants program this year and increase that to $100 million in 2014-15. The Liberals, who scrapped the previous student grants program in 2004, were quick to pan the NDP’s promises as reckless and unaffordable. But the NDP said investing in people and education is the best way to ensure future prosperity and offer a “ladder of opportunity” to young people. The BC Labour Market Outlook 2010-2020 shows a skills deficit emerging in 2016 and worsening in future years. By 2020, there will be 18,800 jobs requiring university, college or trades training and no workers to fill them, the report says. BC NDP | Times Colonist

St. Clair finds new home for fashion program after feud with city

Downtown Windsor has proven to be a poor fit for a new fashion design program that St. Clair College had hoped to establish in the core. The program will instead be housed on the college’s main South Windsor campus. The decision to skirt the downtown came after a falling out with the city over its funding to the University of Windsor. In the midst of the college's downtown search in January, St. Clair president John Strasser fired off a bluntly worded letter to the mayor and councillors, crying foul over what he claimed was "preferential" treatment the city had shown the University of Windsor in its efforts to create a downtown campus. Citing the $10-million grant the municipality pledged to uWindsor toward a plan to convert 3 heritage structures into classroom spaces, Strasser said such local public funding should be "evenly split" between the 2 PSE institutions. Mayor Eddie Francis said it would be "unfair" for anyone to suggest the city's approach isn't balanced. If St. Clair were willing to make the same level of investment in the downtown the university has pledged -- up to $100 million -- “then I guarantee you council and I will find $10 million for the college,” he said. Windsor Star

Conestoga, partners propose new art, design and digital content studio

An old downtown building in Kitchener, Ontario, is slated to become a showcase for art, design and new digital content if city councilors approve the Kitchener Studio Project next week. The project would see Conestoga College lease 10,000 square feet of the building for 5 years from the city. Conestoga would collaborate on this unique campus with the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, Christie Digital and a number of high-tech companies in the area. The project is viewed as essential to advance the city’s growing cluster of digital media companies. Artists, storytellers, animators and product designers are needed for online and mobile applications and for the gaming industry. The Kitchener Studio Project will be equipped with cutting-edge technology for graphics, music, film, design and gaming. It will also have a gallery for exhibits and events. Waterloo Regional Record

PEI reviewing funding for MUN med school seats

PEI Health Minister Doug Currie says the province is reviewing its funding for medical school seats at Memorial University because it isn’t getting a good return on its investment. The review came after the government considered and scrapped the idea of return-in-service agreements for PEI students who attend the university in Newfoundland and Labrador for medical school. Currie said that there is substantial investment in medical seats at MUN with the government paying for 4 PEI students in each year of the 4-year program. That amounts to $800,000 spent this year, he says. But Currie said PEI isn’t getting a good return on its investment because those students aren’t returning to the province to practice medicine once they graduate. He said that while the government remains committed to paying for the seats at MUN, it is looking at ways to attach a commitment to students returning to PEI. Charlottetown Guardian

Saskatchewan invests $1 million in new Parkland trades centre

The Saskatchewan government announced Tuesday it will provide $1 million in design funding through its 2013-14 budget to Parkland Regional College for a new Trades and Technology Centre in Yorkton. "The Saskatchewan government was facing many fiscal choices this spring, we are honoured that it has chosen to support local skills training to address the ongoing labour shortage," said Parkland president Fay Myers. The college is currently conducting a fundraising campaign and hopes to raise at least $5 million from local partners toward the project. The City of Yorkton has contributed land valued at almost $3.5 million. Saskatchewan News Release

New Yukon website profiles top occupations

The new Yukon WorkFutures website was unveiled to education and labour market stakeholders by Education Minister Scott Kent on Tuesday. “This new website is an in-depth guide to career opportunities based on current and projected economic needs,” Kent said. “The website profiles the 100 most in-demand occupations in Yukon, providing users with an opportunity to explore potential career paths and gain an understanding of the training they need to succeed.” The website will prove a useful tool for job planners, parents, students and career counselors who can now access up-to-date labour market information. Yukon Education’s Advanced Education branch will ensure the top jobs list remains accurate, which is determined by labour market research of the Yukon economy. Yukon News Release