ANSUT Condemns passage of Bill 100
HALIFAX, May 6, 2015 – The Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT), vocally condemned the passage yesterday evening of Liberal Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan’s Bill 100, the so-called Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act.
ANSUT President Marc Lamoureux said Wednesday morning, “As with the highly questionable ‘universities consultation process’ of Fall 2014, the government’s representations here have been laughable. Minister Regan claims that the Act’s measures are almost certainly not going to be used. Yet we have here in plain legislation a probably unconstitutional Act that stands to put institutions of higher learning at the behest of large-scale industry and business, destroy collective bargaining, undermine bicameral university governance and, despite all that, entirely fail to provide the financial accountability that universities actually need: oversight measures designed to ensure that the core academic mission of universities is not shortchanged in the name of short-term economic targets.”
Lamoureux applauded Jamie Baillie’s Progressive Conservative opposition and Maureen MacDonald’s NDP for their parties’ respective efforts to put a stop to Bill 100 during Third Reading, in particular Northside-Westmount MLA Eddie Orrell’s motion to have the bill sent back to committee, and MacDonald’s shrewd analysis of the bill’s probable objectives. “Pictou East MLA Tom Houston got it right when he pointed out that Bill 100 itself appeared to contain the blueprint for actually fomenting crises in our universities,” Lamoureux said. “It was apparent those of us observing the Third Reading that our elected representatives in the PC and NDP parties understand quite well just how extremely flawed and dangerous Bill 100 really is.”
Bill 100’s passage triggered the first provision of the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ (CAUT) formal condemnation, voted through unanimously last weekend in Ottawa, of it: notifying university presidents that they will be subject to formal censure proceedings should they invoke a “significant operating deficiency” in order to implement a “revitalization plan”.
ANSUT, which represents over 1400 university teaching faculty and librarians in Nova Scotia, remains committed to working in concert with its allies in the Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Education Coalition, the CAUT, and from other sectors to protect students, staff, faculty, and academic programmes themselves from Bill 100’s measures.
• Read ANSUT’s Bill 100 Primer here
Canadian Association of University Teachers votes unanimously to condemn Nova Scotia’s attack on universities
OTTAWA, May 1, 2015 – Delegates attending the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) yesterday voted unanimously to condemn the Nova Scotia government’s Bill 100 as an unacceptable violation of constitutional rights, university autonomy, and academic freedom.
The motion, brought by the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT), and seconded by the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA), calls for CAUT to initiate the censure process against any university that seeks to use the provisions in the Bill to trample employment and academic rights of staff.
“Bill 100 attacks collective agreements and undermines worker security through these revitalization plans”, David Mensink, president of the Dalhousie Faculty Association told the delegates. “The values in this bill are antithetical to the values of CAUT and academic staff across the country by undermining the right to strike, academic freedom and institutional autonomy.” The motion also calls on CAUT to denounce the Nova Scotia government for interfering in workers’ rights and academic freedom, and to consider legal action if the bill is adopted. “This bill is essentially program prioritization on steroids,” said David Robinson, CAUT executive director. “What is most surprising and disappointing about the Bill has been the silence of senior university leaders in not raising their voices against this attack on institutional autonomy and fundamental academic values.”
Delegates from across the country spoke in favour of the motion and extended their support and solidarity to their colleagues in Nova Scotia in their struggle to defend the constitutional rights of academic staff and the autonomy of their post-secondary institutions.
Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Education Coalition calls for faculty, students and staff to play major role in upcoming PSE consultations
ANSUT condemns Liberals’ Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act
HALIFAX, April 23, 2015 – The Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT), which represents over 1400 university teaching faculty and librarians in the province, condemned the proposed Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act today. Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan introduced the Act for first reading on April 22.
The Liberal government advertised incoming financial oversight measures for universities when it released its report in March on last year’s much contested “university consultation” process. ANSUT and other organizations called for financial oversight during the “consultation,” in order to ensure that money is not diverted from universities’ core operating budgets, which fund academic programmes, to capital investment, administrative compensation, and other non-academic budgets.
The Act reflects none of those concerns. It substitutes for educational priorities generic “accountability to the taxpayer” political advertising that does nothing to address our system’s structural problems. “Nova Scotians are faced with a basic, yet complex, choice about our post-secondary education system,” ANSUT President Marc Lamoureux said Thursday morning. “Do we want an education system primarily devoted to business concerns, or do we want an education system that educates people? We can’t have both. The Liberal government seems not to recognize that this choice is before us. Perhaps it does not wish to.”
Lamoureux continued: “There are many other problems with the Act. It threatens collective bargaining rights, most notably the right to strike and the right to file grievances, by allowing academic employers to invoke financial emergency. These encroachments are of great concern to our members. But the biggest issue remains this government’s general understanding, or misunderstanding, of why our post-secondary education system exists at all. If they wish to cut corners with respect to labour relations, it’s because they seek to reshape the system for reasons that have little to do with education.”
ANSUT calls on parliamentarians to vote against the Act, and to work with faculty, student and staff groups to help our post-secondary education system carry out its core mission: to give young people a well-rounded, affordable education from excellent teachers, and to foster a vibrant, diverse Nova Scotia.
Provincial Budget continues dismantling Nova Scotia post-secondary education
HALIFAX, April 9, 2015 – Stephen McNeil’s Liberal Government has delivered an austerity budget that stands to exacerbate serious structural problems with Nova Scotia’s post-secondary education system and, moreover, to jeopardize the essentially public character of post-secondary education in the province.
Dr. Marc Lamoureux, president of the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT), which represents over 1400 university teaching faculty and librarians in the province, said, “The Liberal government has once again delivered a round of funding cuts presented to the public as a substantial financial commitment to our universities. The government has locked in a 1% funding increase for the next four years. As usual with austerity politics, the most vulnerable among us will be affected the most: students, support staff, and contract teachers.”
Lamoureux continued: “The elimination of the $261 bursary for out-of-province students coupled with the removal of tuition caps for out-of-province and graduate students, and the imposition of ‘market adjustments’ prior to applying the 3% cap, spells disaster for enrolment and, by extension, the overall fate of post-secondary education in Nova Scotia. For a government that claims to view universities as a major economic driver in the province, these are profoundly strange decisions. Deregulating tuition fees? What is this government thinking?”
ANSUT is pleased to see that certain attempts to assist students have been maintained, such as the 0% Student Loan Interest Programme and the Nova Scotia Bursary. It is also pleased to see the government signal an interest in monitoring university finance, despite the fact that it understands the goals of such oversight in vastly different terms than the faculty, students and staff who called for it in last year’s “University Consultation” process.
All of these measures, however, are little more than triage when applied to a post-secondary system whose fundamental structural problems have not yet begun to be seriously addressed in the ongoing public conversation. ANSUT remains committed to defending Nova Scotia’s post-secondary education system against priorities and decisions that threaten its core pedagogical and social mission.
Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Education Coalition calls for faculty, students, and staff to play major role in upcoming PSE consultations
The Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Education Coalition is calling on the provincial government to recognize faculty, students and staff as equal partners in upcoming consultations on PSE in the province.
The Coalition, comprised of the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT), the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia (CFS-NS), the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) and the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) issued a letter today to Premier Stephen McNeil, Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie and New Democratic Party leader Maureen MacDonald, urging them to substantively include faculty, students and staff in the deliberations that will produce the next Memorandum of Understanding between the provincial government and the province’s universities. Dalhousie Student Union Vice-President (Academic and External) Jacqueline Skiptunis also acted as a signatory on behalf of Dalhousie’s student body.
The Coalition declared in the letter that “students, faculty and staff are united within the Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Education Coalition and, as those who know the strengths and weaknesses of universities and colleges best, we are the key stakeholder constituencies to be consulted.” In its most recent public opinion poll, Building for the Future: Public Opinion on Post-Secondary Education in Nova Scotia (2014), the Coalition found that nearly three quarters of respondents felt that students, faculty, and staff should play a major role in decision-making at post-secondary institutions.
“Three quarters of Nova Scotians want to see the faculty who teach, the students who learn, and the staff who work in our post-secondary institutions make the decisions about what their future will look like,” said Marc Lamoureux, ANSUT President. “The Nova Scotia government needs to engage faculty, students and staff as equal partners when policies relating to fees, funding and governance are being set.”
ANSUT supports WUFA against anti-union tactics
The Association of Nova Scotia has written a letter of support to the Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA), whose members recently came under attack when the Employer imposed anti-union tactics on the collective bargaining process.
In a communication to WUFA members on 6 July 2014, the Employer said that it would:
• eliminate its contributions to the money purchase plan component of the hybrid pension plan;
• cease paying health insurance benefits;
• suspend the Grievance and Arbitration provisions in the collective agreement;
• end reimbursing WUFA members for professional development expenses; and,
• cease collecting union dues from members and forwarding those dues to WUFA.
In this undertaking, the Employer threatened to remove WUFA’s right to enforce the terms of the Collective Agreement, while at the same time requiring that WUFA members continue to report for work and do their jobs. As of 10 July, the Employer suspended, but did not withdraw its threat to change the terms and conditions of employment at the University of Windsor.
ANSUT has also written a letter to President Alan Wildeman, urging the Employer to withdraw this tactic entirely and to return to the bargaining table in good faith.
ANSUT responds to Liberal provincial budget
The Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers released a statement to the press, on April 3, 2014, responding with sharp criticism to the new Liberal government’s provincial budget.
With this budget, Nova Scotia’s government continues to neglect our province’s vital post-secondary education (PSE) sector, in direct contradiction to Premier Stephen McNeil’s statement earlier this year that “one of the things that we need to do as a province is to stop apologizing for the number of post-secondary institutions that we have in this province,” as they are a “great asset”.
Instead, the McNeil government has upheld the trend of neglecting PSE in Nova Scotia, to the continued detriment of faculty, students, staff and, ultimately, the province as a whole.
Please find ANSUT’s statement to the press here.
ANSUT Releases latest public opinion poll with the Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Education Coalition
On February 4, 2014, the Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Education Coalition (ANSUT, NSGEU, CFS-NS) released its latest in an ongoing series of public opinion polls that began in 2005. “Building For The Future: Public Opinion on Post-Secondary Education in Nova Scotia” suggests that, in keeping with our findings in 2005, 2007, and 2010, Nova Scotians continue to have serious concerns regarding the affordability and accessibility of post-secondary education in our province.
With the new Liberal government under Premier McNeil having signalled that we in Nova Scotia ought to start looking at our universities as assets rather than liabilities, the moment seems ripe for those of us involved in the post-secondary system to redouble our advocacy and amplify our voices. Making our concerns, and assessments of the difficulties facing PSE, ever more visible to the public eye will be crucial for the foreseeable future.
Please access our polling brief here and circulate it to your members and other interested parties.
ANSUT Releases Report on Senior Administrators’ Pay
On September 11, 2012, ANSUT released its long-awaited report on levels of compensation for senior administrators at Nova Scotia universities. The report shows that over a seven-year period these have risen disproportionately to other costs, and calls for the government to take measures to stem this disturbing trend.
Click here for the full text of the report: A Culture of Entitlement
Click here for the report backgrounder: A Culture of Entitlement: Backgrounder
NEXT ANSUT COUNCIL MEETING
The next ANSUT Council meeting will take place on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at 10:00 am in the Boardroom at the new ANSUT Office, 380 Bedford Highway. An open house will follow.
The ANSUT Executive
Marc Lamoureux, Saint Mary’s University
Scott Stewart, Cape Breton University
Chris Ferns, Mount Saint Vincent University
Linda Mann, Mount Saint Vincent University
Mathew Reichertz, NSCAD University
Peter McInnis, St. Francis Xavier University