Top Ten

January 18, 2022

Winter storm closes campuses in parts of ON, QC

Postsecondary institutions in parts of Ontario and Québec have cancelled in-person classes and labs and instructed employees to work from home in the wake of a major winter storm on Monday. In QC, institutions such as Cégep de Victoriaville and the Université de Sherbrooke issued campus closure notices to their communities early on the 17th. In ON, institutions from across the southern half of the province – such as Centennial College, Conestoga College, Loyalist College, McMaster University, Niagara College, and University of Guelph – closed their campuses or reduced campus activity for the day and instructed students to participate in online learning instead. La Nouvelle | USherbrooke | Centennial | Conestoga Loyalist | McMaster | Niagara |  UoGuelph   (QC | ON)

Nursing schools face opportunities, challenges as COVID-19 wears on

Nursing schools are facing unique opportunities and challenges as the pandemic continues, writes Wendy Glauser of University Affairs. Glauser says that there has been an increased interest in nursing during the pandemic, but the demand for qualified professionals means that finding instructors to train students has been difficult. While nurses are retiring from the profession in greater numbers, the number of young people applying to the profession has increased. There also have been issues with securing adequate hands-on learning opportunities: Provinces have been increasing funding and nursing program seats to address the need for nurses during the pandemic, but Glauser points out that funding alone cannot solve issues related to clinical placements. Nursing students have also struggled with online labs and placements, questioning whether these online simulations are adequately preparing them for work after graduation. University Affairs (Editorial)

Western, Fanshawe launch program to fast-track RN training

Western University has partnered with Fanshawe College to provide registered practical nurses with a fast-tracked pathway to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The program will have space for 10 Fanshawe-graduated RPNs to study to become RNs in a compressed 19-month timeframe. “We need nurses – all nurses – but in particular we’re concerned with the shortage of RNs,” said director of Western’s Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing Vicki Smye. “Given the shortage and given what we know about RPNs’ practice now, it seemed to us that it made sense to offer this pathway within our existing BScN compressed timeframe program.” Western (ON)

CUEFA membership ratifies new four-year deal, ends strike with Concordia Edmonton

The Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association (CUEFA) and Concordia University of Edmonton strike ended on Saturday. A four-year deal was ratified by 89% of CUEFA membership, and included improvements in areas such as salary, workload, and research opportunities. Virtual classes will begin on Wednesday, and both CUEFA and Concordia Edmonton will be working together to mitigate any impacts on students. “This new agreement is a win for faculty, students and the community,” said CUEFA President Glynis Price. “It will enable the university to recruit and retain excellent faculty and lays the foundation for a stronger learning environment.” CBC | CTV News (AB)

CAPR to no longer offer clinical component of PCE exam, exam still required to license physiotherapists

The Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR) has announced that it will no longer offer the clinical component of the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE), though the test is still required for licensing. CAPR attributed the change to the pandemic, an inability to hold large-scale in-person exams, and “a major effort to review and re-conceptualize evaluation services for entry-to-practice physiotherapy in Canada.” The exam has been postponed and cancelled for the last two years, resulting in a backlog of thousands of physiotherapist graduates needing to take the exam to gain full licensing. Canadian Physiotherapy Association President Amanda de Chastelain stated that there are concerns that this move will mean students are forced to wait longer as local colleges decide what to do, and that not having a national exam may create inequity. The University of British Columbia has partnered with the College of Physical Therapists of British Columbia to hold exams as an interim measure. CBC (National)

Municipalities call ON to increase number of students admitted into NOSM to address doctor shortage

Individual municipalities are calling on Ontario to increase the number of students admitted to NOSM University in order to address a major doctor shortage in the region. CBC says that northern Ontario currently faces a shortage of over 320 doctors. The motion was originally passed at the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities and has now been passed by the City of North Bay. NOSM Dean Dr Sarita Verma says that NOSM wishes to expand to admit 80 students each year, and has plans to move the number to 100 undergraduate students and 100 post-graduate students in the future. CBC (ON)

RRC Polytechnic welcomes first Knowledge Keepers Council

Red River College Polytechnic has welcomed its first Knowledge Keepers Council, which is dedicated to furthering Truth and Reconciliation commitments at the institution. The council includes six members who will provide guidance and Indigenous perspectives as well as support strategic planning and execution across the institution. “The formation of this Council and its close relationship with senior leadership highlights the priority of the knowledge and viewpoints they will bring to support the wide range of work at RRC Polytech,” said Carla Kematch, Director of Truth and Reconciliation at RRC Polytech. “I think we will see the Council strengthen Indigenous knowledge throughout the College, inform consultation processes and contribute to a safe working space for Indigenous and diverse staff among many other areas.” RRC (MB)

Establishing Canadian higher education as a “prestigious brand:” Opinion

Canada should establish its university education as a “prestigious brand” those from around the world recognize in order to support Canada’s growth, writes Carleton University instructor Munir Sheikh. Sheikh points to the major intersection between education and immigration, and argues that a world-class, low-cost education can set Canada apart as a place that attracts the best from around the world. New public policies, increased public funding, and a streamlined immigration system could place Canadian institutions in the top 10 schools in the world and fast-track international talent. “At present, we look at international students as a source of funding rather than as an investment in Canada’s future,” writes Sheikh. “How long can this go on if we are serious about raising our living standards?” The Globe and Mail (Editorial)

Instructors from UWinnipeg Collegiate sue UWinnipeg over vaccine mandates

CBC reports that three instructors from the University of Winnipeg Collegiate, a private high school hosted on the university campus, are suing the University of Winnipeg, the Government of Manitoba, and MB’s chief public health officer over vaccine mandates. The three instructors had applied for vaccine exemptions on religious grounds, but were denied and placed on involuntary leave in September due to their vaccine status. The instructors allege they have “suffered vilification and extreme ill-will” due to UWinnipeg’s policies and “false public statements,” as well as psychological, physical, and emotional trauma; loss of income; and loss of trust. The instructors also claim that UWinnipeg is guilty of assault for requiring instructors to be vaccinated. “The University of Winnipeg and the Collegiate are following public health directives, which are based on the best scientific evidence,” read a statement from a university spokesperson. CBC | Winnipeg Free Press (MB)

USask, Western, Carleton communities develop websites to track rapid test results

Postsecondary community members in Ontario and Saskatchewan have recently developed websites to track rapid test results. University of Saskatchewan biomedical neuroscience student Noah Little and USask epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine collaborated to create an online tool where people can anonymously report their rapid test results from across Canada. “What this does is it adds it to a database of rapid test results that can be used for research and can be used to better understand these gaps in data,” said Little. Western University nursing student Elliot Hegel teamed up with Carleton University computer science student Henry Morris to create a website that could log COVID-19 rapid test results. People who take a rapid antigen test can input their results and anonymous details such as general geography so that the aggregated data can be used by researchers. CBC (USask) | Western (ON | SK)