Top Ten

November 21, 2019

UManitoba faculty association among 28 unions challenging constitutionality of MB wage-freeze bill

The University of Manitoba’s faculty association is among 28 unions that has entered a legal battle with the province regarding the constitutionality of MB Bill 28, a piece of legislation that mandates a two-year wage freeze for public-sector workers followed by a 0.75% pay increase in the third year and 1% for the fourth year. The Bill—which was passed in 2017, but never proclaimed—reportedly impeded salary bargaining between UManitoba administration and the union representing some professors in 2017. Mark Hudson, former president of the UManitoba faculty association, told the court on Monday that university officials took salary negotiations off the table in bargaining that year and quoted from Bill 28 in conversations in 2017. Hudson also stated in court that the faculty association wants the province to admit it violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and pay damages in the amount of wages lost in the freeze. CBC (1) | CBC (2) (MB)

CASA argues that proposed access copyright tariffs lack transparency

The Copyright Board of Canada has published a proposal for an access copyright tariff for postsecondary institutions in Canada. Coming into effect from 2021 to 2023, the proposal includes a $26 tariff per full-time university student, and a $10 tariff per full-time equivalent student at other postsecondary institutions. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) has been monitoring reviews of the Copyright Act and has stated in a release that it is concerned with “the lack of transparency on the rationale for tariff rates.” According to CASA, the proposed tariff rates “do not reflect the current market pricing for reproduction rights licenses for higher education in Canada.” For example, CASA reports that a similar tariff licensing agreement between Copibec and universities in Quebec is charging $13.50 per full-time university student until 2021. CASA (National)

McGill, partners receive nearly $10M to support autism research

McGill University and its partners of the Transforming Autism Care Consortium (TACC) have announced the receipt of a donation of nearly $10M to support autism research. The donation, which is funded by the Marcelle and Jean Coutu Foundation, will enable TACC to establish Quebec 1,000 (Q1K), a collaborative multidisciplinary project that will bring together clinicians and researchers to accelerate the pace of discovery and integrate research outcomes into healthcare practices for autism. "This [donation] will make it possible to guide autism care more effectively and give us a better idea of patients' trajectories and outcomes," said Douglas Mental Health University Institute Professor Carl Ernst. "With time, the approaches used will improve and be better suited to the needs of both patients and their families." McGill (QC)

TAC becomes sole national accrediting body for engineering tech, applied sciences

Technology Accreditation Canada (TAC) and the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists (CCTT) have announced that TAC will become the sole national accrediting body for Canada’s engineering technology and applied science profession. Under this agreement, TAC will absorb accreditation services provided by the Canadian Technology Accreditation Board (CTAB) and assume responsibility of all CTAB accredited programs within a three-year period. In addition, the Certified Technicians and Technologists Association of Manitoba and four member provinces of CCTT will become TAC members. “This development creates a unique opportunity for TAC to partner with more institutions to support the delivery of the highest quality education to their students, which meets the standards of the engineering technology and applied science profession,” said TAC Board of Directors Chair Peter Portlock. TAC (National)

Lakehead receives $1M from Simcoe County to expand regional access to PSE

Lakehead University has received $1M from the County of Simcoe to improve access to postsecondary education across the region. Bringing the County’s investment in Lakehead to a total of $9.5M, the most recent donation supports the expansion of innovative programming at Lakehead, and ensures that the region has knowledgeable, job-ready candidates prepared to enter the local economy. “The County of Simcoe’s outstanding support of Lakehead University continues to have a nurturing, positive impact on everything you see around us, but especially on our students – many of our 1,400 students come from your communities,” said Lakehead Orillia Principal Dean Jobin-Bevans. Lakehead (ON)

RMC commissionaires end strike of nearly five months without demands met

Commissionaires who provide security for Royal Military College, Canadian Forces Base Kingston, and Fort Frontenac have ended their strike action after nearly five months of picketing. Walking off the job on June 24th, the commissionaires were asking for an increase in sick day benefits from two days per year to five, and a $125 boot allowance every two years for commissionaires working where boots were mandatory. The union voted and accepted the company’s final offer on November 12th, which was no different from the company’s offer in June, and the commissionaires reported back to work last Thursday. Kingston Whig-Standard (ON)

eCampusOntario releases micro-certification system to harmonize specifications across higher ed

eCampusOntario has published a harmonized micro-certification system that imparts a common set of specifications among ON higher education institutions and businesses. Working in collaboration with representatives from twelve ON colleges, nine universities, and ten employers, the consortium created a framework to provide high-level guidance for micro-certification development in local academic and workplace settings. eCampusOntario also deployed a micro-certification platform and hosted a community forum. “Individuals will want to tailor their learning and credentials to their work environment,” said Northern College VP Academic and Student Success Audrey Penner. “The world of work is changing and post-secondary education will change as well." Markets Insider (ON)

Humber partners with Amazon Web Services to deliver new Cloud Computing graduate certificate

Humber College has partnered with Amazon Web Services Inc (AWS) to deliver a new Cloud Computing Ontario Graduate Certificate. Described by the college as “the first of its kind in Canada,” the new program aims to address the skills gap, broaden academic delivery, increase program options, and enhance technology and innovation across the college. Through this partnership, AWS will provide Humber with its cloud infrastructure as well as many of the cloud computing tools being used in the program. “Collaborating with AWS strengthens our IT infrastructure, adds to our program options, supports applied research and enhances our digital capabilities, all of which combine to improve the overall student and campus experience,” said Humber Senior VP of Transformation and Strategic Partnership Rani Dhaliwal. Humber | Windsor Star (ON)

UAlberta receives $1.25M donation from Scotiabank, creates Artificial Intelligence Research Initiative

The University of Alberta has received a $1.25M donation from Scotiabank to fund the Artificial Intelligence Research Initiative. Operating within the school’s department of computer science, the initiative aims to gain further knowledge about, and build practical tools and predictive models for fraud detection and speech to text analytics. “This donation not only supports our students but also provides important training for postdoctoral fellows, increasing our research capacity in AI and positioning our leaders of tomorrow to address global challenges and societal needs,” said UAlberta Dean of the Faculty of Science Matina Kalcounis-Ruepell. Markets Insider (AB)

CAUT report finds that TRU administration breached academic freedom in Pyne case

An investigation by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has found that Thompson Rivers University administration’s actions against economics professor Derek Pyne constituted a breach of academic freedom. Following the publication of a study in which Pyne alleged many of his university colleagues were using what he called "predatory journals,” Pyne was required to submit to a psychological assessment which was then distributed widely, reports the Vancouver Sun. Pyne was then suspended in July 2018. TRU restored Pyne’s pay in August of 2018, and reinstated the professor in December 2018. The CAUT report found that the school failed to understand academic freedom beyond a narrow scope of supporting faculty members' freedom to pursue research and publish their findings. CBC | Vancouver Sun (BC)