Top Ten

July 20, 2021

StatCan study on harassment show higher harassment, discrimination in postsecondary institutions

Statistics Canada has released a new study called “Harassment and discrimination among faculty and researchers in Canada's postsecondary institutions,” which found high rates of harassment and discrimination in the sector. A survey found that 34% of women and 22% of men had experienced harassment such as verbal abuse, humiliating behaviour, or threats in the previous 12 months. The most common type of harassment was humiliating behaviour. The study found that those with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, and sexual minority persons were at the greatest risk of experiencing workplace harassment, and that PhD students or postdoctoral fellows were harassed most often by those in positions of authority. Statistics Canada | National Observer | Journal de Montréal (National)

CAE, Canada, QC invest over $1B in innovation, create work experience positions for students

Over $1B in investments from CAE Inc, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Quebec will support innovation and create new work-integrated learning opportunities. The funding will support work in areas such as artificial intelligence, data solutions, defence and security, and healthcare, will create 5,000 work experience positions for postsecondary students, and will create 700 highly skilled jobs. “The investments announced today will help the aerospace sector increase its research and development efforts so that innovative, greener, more sustainable aircraft can be built right here in Canada for decades to come, creating good jobs for hard-working Canadians,” said Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne. Times Colonist (National)

ON postsecondary institutions to resume Fall in-person classes with no capacity limits, distancing

The Government of Ontario has announced that postsecondary institutions in ON will be able to fully reopen for the Fall semester. Institutions will not be required to have capacity limits or physical distancing, but students will still be required to use face masks indoors. ON has also encouraged institutions to continue to hold vaccine clinics, offer antigen testing and rapid, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, and promote hygiene and cleanliness. Institutions also are encouraged to have contingency plans and to offer mental health supports for students and staff. Deputy Minister Shelley Tapp said that ON will be providing an update in early August to “ensure alignment with the most current public health and safety guidance and advice for September 2021 and onwards.” The Star (ON)

CITF, VSRG provide funding for vaccine-related projects

The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) and the Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group (VSRG) have recently provided funding for several projects related to COVID-19 vaccination, including those led or co-led by Dalhousie University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Ottawa. Over $8M was invested in four studies led by University of Ottawa and The Ottawa Hospital researchers on how vaccines work on people with immune deficiencies. A project led by Dal’s Dr Karina Top on adverse effects following immunization in authorized vaccines has received $800K. Approximately $770K has been invested in a project co-led by UBC postdoctoral fellow Dr Brittany Barker on the uptake, effectiveness, and side effects of COVID-19 vaccines for members of vulnerable urban populations. CITF (1) | CITF (2) | CITF (3) | Ottawa Citizen (National)

Over 60 UAlberta custodial staff to be laid off, work to be outsourced

The Edmonton Journal reports that over 60 University of Alberta custodial staff will be laid off in October, and that UAlberta will be outsourcing the work to a private contractor as a cost-saving measure. UAlberta has reportedly been increasing its use of outsourcing through attrition or voluntary severance but had not laid off custodial staff until now. The move is expected to save UAlberta $400K in its first year and $2.6M annually after. UAlberta VP (Facilities and Operations) Andrew Sharman issued a statement expressing appreciation for the custodial staff during the pandemic and assuring the public that outsourcing the positions will not affect cleaning standards. The Non-Academic Staff Association (NASA) has criticized the move, arguing that UAlberta is sacrificing vulnerable workers, who are “overwhelmingly women of colour and new Canadians.” “This is a slap in the face to the group that has kept our campus safe and clean through a pandemic,” said NASA President Jillian Pratt. “Thank you so much for keeping us safe. Here’s your pink slip.” Edmonton Journal | UAlberta NASA | CTV News (AB)

Preventing a “suicide contagion” in students: Opinion

In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Kate Hidalgo Bellows discusses student mental health issues, suicide, and how institutions can appropriately address the issues students are facing. Bellows describes how responses to student suicides can inadequately address the tragedy or could even perpetuate a cycle of student deaths or “suicide contagion.” The author writes that institutions should acknowledge the death without sensationalizing the suicide and reduce access to common suicide methods. Bellows provides a look at institutions which have invested in suicide prevention measures such as faculty, staff, and student training; creating long-term mental health clinics; and having adults who know students personally and care about the challenges in their lives. Chronicle of Higher Ed (Subscription req) (Editorial)

UBC partners in the Autism Sharing Initiative

The University of British Columbia has announced that it is a partner in the Autism Sharing Initiative, The initiative, which is supported by Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, will enable researchers from around the world to share anonymized clinical and genetic data to support autism research, personalized care, and treatment. Through the Autism Sharing Initiative, researchers can use anonymized datasets from parents and patients to gain insights on genetics and autism. “[B]y working across institutional boundaries, we’ll be able to better recognize emerging autism subtypes, which can help inform diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr Suzanne Lewis, a clinical professor in UBC’s department of medicine. UBC (BC)

USask, SHA, CHEP Good Food Inc partner on project to address sustainability and food procurement

The University of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), and CHEP Good Food Inc have partnered on a project under the Nourish Anchor Collaborative Cohort that will focus on food insecurity and food sovereignty. The project will look at both urban centres and remote areas with Indigenous populations, and will plan a path toward sustainability. The Cohort’s network of teams will address interconnected issues such as health inequity, food insecurity, diet-related chronic disease, and climate change impacts. “This is an exciting opportunity to think and work differently on very complex issues,” said Dr Wanda Martin, associate professor with the USask College of Nursing. USask (SK)

International students discuss visa delays, hurdles faced in coming to Canada

City News 1130 spoke to international students Dr Tamana Khatir and Arhum Ladak about the challenges they faced with coming to Canada to study during the COVID-19 pandemic. Khatir explained that challenges such as delayed paperwork, increased financial burdens, and issues securing admission have exhausted many international students. She discussed how the visa process became lengthened due to the pandemic, and how other hurdles, such as getting vaccinated, finding flights, and quarantining have posed challenges. Ladak shared the challenges of participating in classes at the University of Calgary online due to the time difference, and explained that the visa process was lengthy with no way to contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for information. City News 1130 (National)

How to evaluate if your workplace promotes flourishing: Opinion

Flourishing professionally in a position is intertwined with flourishing personally, and one must evaluate whether their workplace culture promotes flourishing and well-being, writes Brandy L Simula. Indicators that a workplace is not conducive to an employee’s wellbeing can include boundaries being ignored, expanding responsibilities without expanding support, misalignment of values and priorities, dread, harassment, being taken for granted, and having few opportunities for meaningful work. Simula notes that employees should consider whether these issues are short or long-term, spend time reflecting on the organizational culture, and consider career paths outside of academia if appropriate. Simula concludes that having an exit strategy can also help with a transition to a workplace that promotes flourishing. Inside Higher Ed (Editorial)