Top Ten

March 26, 2021

NDP proposes cancellation of up to $20K in federal student debt

CBC reports that NDP federal party leader Jagmeet Singh is proposing income-contingent cancellation of up to $20K of federal student debt per student. The proposed plan would also provide students with the option to take a five-year repayment break, eliminate student debt interest, and place a moratorium on student loan payments during COVID-19. “Young people are making student-loan payments the size of mortgage payments, spending years under crushing debt, not able to get ahead,” said Singh, “and the COVID-19 pandemic only made matters worse.” The NDP has also discussed the development of a tuition-free postsecondary education system. Groups such as the Canadian Federation of Students have welcomed the proposal, noting that debt poses a barrier to individuals looking to attain an education. CBC | iPolitics | CFS-FCEE (National)

QC creates committee on academic freedom and censorship

The Government of Quebec has announced that it will be creating a committee dedicated to academic freedom and censorship. The committee will provide consultation and analysis on related issues and will submit proposals to the government about measures that postsecondary institutions can implement to support academic freedom. The committee will include Université du Québec à Chicoutimi Vice-rector Alexandre Cloutier, Université du Québec à Montréal Professor Yves Gingras, Université Laval Professor Chantal Pouliot, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue Professor Aline Niyubahwe, and one student. Montreal Gazette | UQAM (QC)

Canada announces review, development of guidelines for safeguarding research

The Government of Canada has released a policy statement on research security that outlines the next steps that will be taken to develop safeguards for Canadian researchers’ work. The members of the Government of Canada - Universities Working Group will develop specific risk guidelines that will balance collaboration with security, better positioning key research stakeholders to consistently assess the potential risks to the security of their research. “The strength of our research ecosystem is recognized globally, and this ecosystem needs to be protected,” stated François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. Canada | Canada (Statement) (National)

Lakehead Bora Laskin launches Maamawi Bimosewag, expands law program

Lakehead University has announced that its Bora Laskin Faculty of Law will be launching the Maamawi Bimosewag – They Walk Together Indigenous Law and Justice institute and expanding its law program. The changes are supported by over $437K from Canada’s Department of Justice. The institute will contribute to the university’s efforts in meeting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action #50 and will focus on three pillars: Building and sustaining relationships, land-based learning, and a lively research environment. The Faculty also plans to advance Indigenous law through community collaboration and curriculum innovation, starting April 1st. Lakehead (ON)

Kelowna city council “cautiously supports” Culinary College for Humanity

The Culinary College for Humanity, which has been proposed at Southwest Mission winery in Kelowna, has received cautious support from the Kelowna city council. The proposed college would offer six- to eight-month programs and is working to secure an accredited program through the Canadian Culinary Institute. Penticton Western News says that the council voted to send the project to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to gain approval of the non-farm use of the land, but have expressed concerns about other the use of the location as a hotel given the plans for the proposed facility. The facility expects to offer 150 beds in room and dorm-style accommodations in its eight-floor building. Proprietor Stephen Cipes has stated that students would be required to first enroll in classes before booking accommodations at the site. The councillors will have another opportunity to debate the appropriateness of the project if the ALC gives its approval. Penticton Western News (BC)

NBCC, CIFÎPÉ partner to increase language training opportunities in PEI

New Brunswick Community College and the Coopérative d'intégration francophone de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard (CIFÎPÉ) have partnered to expand language training opportunities for people living in PEI. Through the partnership, CIFÎPÉ and NBCC will offer a variety of language training programs and tutoring for Islanders and newcomers from other provinces or countries. The programs include support for francophones who are developing English skills, and support for Anglophones who want to learn French. “People can pick and choose according to their needs and also according to their status,” said CIFÎPÉ director Angie Cormier. CBC (NB | PE)

VIU launches aquaculture program

Vancouver Island University has launched a new aquaculture minor program that will prepare students for a career in the growing field of aquaculture. Students in both VIU’s Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degree programs will be able to learn more about creating food security solutions and advancing knowledge for sustainable food production. “Students will learn about the life history, rearing and spawning of a wide variety of organisms – fish and a number of invertebrates – and the reason we use these protocols,” explained VIU FIsheries and Aquaculture Professor Dan Baker. “Many courses have a lab component to allow students to get hands-on learning experiences and take advantage of our professor-in-the-lab model of teaching, which is unique to Vancouver Island University.” VIU states that it is the only postsecondary institution in the province to offer aquaculture as a minor. VIU (BC)

Postsecondary partnerships focus on bringing health initiatives to the community

Numerous postsecondary institutions have launched partnerships focused on supporting the health of communities. The Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) signed a Relationship Accord focused on supporting the NAN Health Transformation process and strengthening the health system in the NAN territory. Humber College partnered with Rexdale Community Health Centre to host a virtual health fair for seniors and explore and to explore future opportunities to work together. King’s University College students partnered with Youth Opportunities Unlimited to develop a mental health roadmap. Students from the University of Alberta created Access for all Dentistry to provide oral health care for individuals in rural Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon. The University of Calgary is working with Mbarara University of Science and Technology to launch a health initiative that will meet emerging adolescent health needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationtalk (NOSM) | Humber | CTV News (King’s) | Everything GP (UAlberta)UCalgary (National)

USherbrooke, Sporobole bring together art and science efforts through new agreement

The Université de Sherbrooke and the artist’s centre Sporobole have renewed a partnership that brings together art and science by signing a new agreement. The agreement will see the creation of three artist residencies in USherbrooke’s research groups over a three-year period. "The Université de Sherbrooke attaches great importance to the role of arts in society, and this partnership makes it possible to affirm their relevance in the scientific world,” said Jocelyne Faucher, General Secretary and Vice-Rector for Student Life at USherbrooke. “This association will therefore make it possible to forge promising links between scientists and artists, and between members of the university community." USherbrooke (QC)

Court ruling enables Laurentian to reduce pension plan payout value

A court has ruled that Laurentian University will be allowed to reduce pension plan payouts to 27 former employees who had opted to cash out their pensions. CTV News explains that Laurentian had previously provided 100% of the value of the pension to these individuals, but that they will now receive a transfer ratio of 65.8%. The article says that Laurentian will save approximately $1.6M through the move and that it will help protect the defined benefit pension plan (DBPP). “LU takes the position that this will help to mitigate any potential deterioration of the DBPP’s financial position and will treat all plan members equitably, as it avoids having certain individuals remove assets from the DBPP at a rate greater than the transfer ratio,” read the transcript of the decision. CTV News (ON)