Archive | Education

Students conclude #MPForADay with Brampton East MP Raj Grewal

Posted on 27 June 2018 by admin

OTTAWA – On June 11th 2018, two young constituents from Brampton East joined MP Raj Grewal in Ottawa to experience a day in the life of a Member of Parliament.

The #MPForADay initiative, now its third year, allows young constituents between the ages of 16 and 24 to shadow MP Grewal on Parliament Hill, at the member’s own personal expense.  Chosen participants were asked to identify key policy issues that matter most to them. Upon their arrival, this year’s participants, Aashrit Luthra and Amitoze Deol, were given parliamentary briefing binders to prepare for a fascinating day of meetings and information sessions. The sit-downs with Members and Ministers were arranged to match the participants’ policy interests in gender equality, women in politics, artificial intelligence, and the legalization of cannabis.

The two participants met with MP Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Status of Women, and with MP Anita Vandenbeld to discuss gender equality and the importance of the involvement of women in politics. They also met with Minister Navdeep Bains to discuss the future of artificial intelligence, and with MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith to discuss the legalisation of cannabis and its effects on the health and well-being of Canadian youth. Their day included brief meetings with Minister Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, and MP Omar Alghabra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Throughout the day, the two participants were also in control of MP Grewal’s Instagram stories, posting their experiences throughout the day.

Quotes:

“It’s so important to give youth the best opportunities possible to become involved and engaged in politics. I wanted to make sure that this experience was going to be more than just shadowing a MP, but an experience that caters to their interest and their passions, and to let them ask the policy questions that are important to them to the people that shape them.” – Raj Grewal, MP for Brampton East

“It was an incredible opportunity that allowed me to better understand the nature of politics and what a day in the House of Commons typically looks like for an MP. My most memorable moments from the day include attending question period and speaking with a number of MPs about policy issues ranging from the legalization of cannabis to working towards gender equality. Going forward after this experience, I hope to further my participation in politics by volunteering and becoming more actively involved in issues pertaining to my own community, here in Brampton East.” – Amitoze Deol, 17 years old, #MPForADay participant

“ This event really clarified the questions I had regarding politics, including how politicians interacted daily, how busy and structured their schedules are, different procedures that happen during the week, etc. To be honest, I felt I was in a different world, as I was never exposed to a setting like this before. I had the very fortunate opportunity to talk to a handful of MP’s, including Minister Navdeep Bains, Terry Duguid, and Nathaniel Erskine-Smith on different topics that interest them and me. Topics like artificial intelligence shaping our society, the importance of gender equality, and much more were discussed. ” – Aashrit Luthra, 16 year old, #MPForADay participant

 

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Ontario Adding 2,000 New Education Workers in Total to Schools

Posted on 02 May 2018 by admin

Ontario is making a significant investment to nearly double the number of guidance teachers for Grade 7 and 8 students, and help better prepare kids for the transition to high school and the fast-changing world beyond.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was with Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, MPP Ottawa-Orléans at École secondaire publique Louis-Riel, in Ottawa today, to announce an investment of more than $120 million over the next three years that will add more than 450 new guidance teachers across the province.

For Grade 7 and 8 students, this means additional support as they prepare to transition to high school, as well as early exposure to positive role models and diverse career options, as they explore continuing their education through apprenticeships, college, university and in the workplace.

In total, Ontario will add 2,000 new education workers with Budget 2018, which include:

•         Educational assistants (EAs) to support students with exceptionally high needs

•         Specialists, including social workers, psychologists, behavioural specialists and speech language pathologists to support boards in expanding special education programs and services — ultimately benefitting all students

•         Up to 400 new mental health workers at Ontario’s secondary schools, to ensure every high school student will have access to mental health supports at school.

This builds on the government’s historic investments in Ontario’s publicly funded education system, which have put more teachers in classrooms since 2013, capped or reduced class sizes, and completed the roll-out of full-day kindergarten, making it available to every four- and five-year-old in the province.

Putting more education workers and supports in our schools is part of the government’s plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free licensed preschool child care from 2 ½ to kindergarten.

 

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Toronto campuses grapple with marijuana policies ahead of legalization

Posted on 11 April 2018 by admin

Students say zero tolerance won’t work.

This fall, students at Ryerson University will see a new educational campaign incorporated into the usual campus cautions about binge drinking and safe sex.

Responsible marijuana use.

As the government of Canada prepares to legalize the drug this summer, local universities and colleges are confronting a wave of questions around how to deal with it on campus, and the best way to talk to students about what will by next September go from forbidden to an out in the open part of the university experience.

At Ryerson, Allan Macdonald, director, student health and wellness, said a campus-wide campaign will approach marijuana use in a “serious straightforward manner” similar to the education already in place around alcohol.

“It’s not a should or shouldn’t, it’s a here’s the deal kind of thing,” he said.

“There’s a choice here for you. Abstinence is a choice. If you do choose to partake, here’s the harm that happens, here’s how you reduce your harm and prevent it.”

Ryerson also has an internal committee looking at their policies to get ready for the new legislation, said a spokesperson, as does York University. That school is “working on updating current policies and practices so that we are ready to respond once cannabis is legalized,” said spokesperson Janice Walls.

The University of Toronto has put together “a working group that is considering this issue and we want to wait until they finish their work,” said Elizabeth Church, interim director of media relations, in an email.

At George Brown there are “no plans to implement a specific marijuana policy,” wrote spokesperson Rima Kar in an email. “In general, the existing rules apply to employees when it comes to the use of any substance in the workplace.”

Dessy Pavlova, a member of the advocacy group Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy who’s currently studying at Ryerson says universities need to take a “harm reduction” approach because “zero-tolerance hasn’t worked.”

A long-time medicinal marijuana user for nerve pain, she said most students will have already been introduced to the drug long before they get to university or college, but “there is some concern around where it can be smoked and where it can be sold.”

She doubts smoking marijuana will be allowed on campus but doesn’t think that’s the right approach.

“Give students a place to smoke,” she said.

“Because it will happen anyways, and then that allows for a lot more problems in terms of trying to secure where folks do what.”

Pavlova thinks universities and colleges have a role to play in stamping out stigma around marijuana use, and have an opportunity to shape this through rules on campus, like not suspending someone if they are caught smoking, for example.

“What people are choosing to use shouldn’t be the problem, it should be when they need help or when it’s becoming problematic or affecting people around them. There should be resources available to help and right now we don’t have that,” she said.

“We hope with legalization it will just allow for more open conversation overall.”

But even with legalization and students being able to purchase marijuana from provincial LCBO-run stores, universities need to recognize that a black market will probably still exist, said Eric Muellejans, a third-year student in management information systems at Ryerson.

“At the end of the day if the student can get the marijuana faster and cheaper from a black market dealer, they’re more likely to purchase it there,” he said.

On more practical concerns, like where students can smoke, he thinks “common courtesy” should kick in, but “if you’re allowed to smoke a cigarette, you should be allowed to smoke a joint in the same area, or vice-versa.”

Twenty-one-year-old Adam Shpilt, a recent grad who now works in the cannabis industry and is a recreational user, agrees that while most university students will already have been introduced to pot by the time they get to post-secondary, schools owe them an “education session” at least.

For some students, Shpilt said, marijuana can improve creativity, focus and even ease insomnia.

“I think it’s everyone’s choice if they smoke before studying, or smoke before a presentation,” he said.

“If it’s not interfering with other students’ learning experiences, I’m all for it.”

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Ontario Bringing New School and More Licensed Child Care Spaces to Mississauga East-Cooksville

Posted on 07 February 2018 by admin

Province Supporting Students and Families with New and Improved Facilities

Ontario is supporting families in Mississauga with a new school that will provide a modern learning environment for students and more licensed child care spaces.

Dipika Damerla, MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville, was at Fairview Public School in Mississauga  to announce that the province is investing $16.1 million  for the future Elm Drive Public School  that will accommodate over 650 students and includes four new child care rooms with 73 new licensed child care spaces.

This is part of a new investment across the province to build 39 brand new schools and undertake 40 major renovations or additions that will include more than 2,700 licensed child care spaces for children aged 0-4, helping more families access safe and affordable child care closer to home.

Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

 

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Foreign students claim abuse of P.E.I. business immigration program

Posted on 01 December 2017 by admin

Two international students say two different startup firms created by immigrants required them to pay back large portions of their wages.

CHARLOTTETOWN—The 24-year-old Chinese man sits down at a living room table in Charlottetown, and begins to fill a page of legal-sized paper with diagrams and notes.

He is explaining life as an employee at two businesses set up under P.E.I.’s controversial business immigration system.

First, there was the trading company that required he pay high-priced rent of $1,500 for a small apartment belonging to the firm’s owner, largely using up his $2,000 salary, he says, drawing arrows back and forth on the page.

He shows each bank transaction for the payments on his smart phone.

Then, there was the more recent job at a service firm, where the owner asked him to return about $500 monthly of his salary, he added, drawing a circle around the “two hours a day,” to emphasize what he’d be returning in cash.

“When I refused, they just fired me,” he said during an interview. “I felt angry about that. They promised me that I would be hired until December . . . I need the job experience to apply (for Canadian permanent residency).”

Each job became a disillusioning blow for a young immigrant who couldn’t rely on anyone back in China to send him cash. Without money, he ate modestly and took a graveyard shift job at a hotel to survive, he says. Recently, he says he found a job with a company that isn’t asking him for money.

He is one of two international students interviewed by The Canadian Press who say the alleged abuses occurred at two different startup firms created by immigrants who came to the Island through the provincial nominee program since it was redesigned five years ago.

Both Chinese students spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying they feared losing their current jobs and ostracization in P.E.I.’s close-knit Asian community for speaking about a program that’s brought hundreds to the Island’s small but growing immigrant communities.

A third foreign student at the University of Prince Edward Island says he too gives a portion of his pay back to his employer, but does it willingly.

“If I don’t give the money back to them, they will hire some local better workers, better than me, then I don’t get to stay in P.E.I. anymore. I really like this place, therefore I am willing to do this with my employer,” he wrote in an email.

All three foreign students say the practice is not isolated, and they have friends who have felt pressure to do the same thing — or have agreed to the practice.

“Lots of my classmates did this before and some are doing it now. But all for the same reason. We want our permanent residency card, to stay in Canada, have a better life and future. We can make those money back later,” wrote the third student.

The Canadian Press is not naming the companies involved so as not to identify the employees.

The provincial nominee businesses are set up after the would-be immigrants commit to a minimum investment of $150,000 and annual spending of at least $75,000.

If companies operate for an agreed period of time, usually a year, the province may refund the $150,000 business escrow deposit.

The province has said the program has gradually helped attract a fresh wave of much-needed people to the Island and is resulting in some success stories, even if last year over half of all the 269 applicants forfeited their deposit and never opened a business.

However, critics have argued the system — referred to on the Island as “PNP” businesses — has a poor track record in retaining immigrants, and is encouraging business immigrants to use the Island as a side-door entry point to larger Canadian centres. Meanwhile, the province has collected $18 million last year in forfeitures — roughly equivalent to half of this year’s increase in infrastructure spending.

The two students interviewed say one dark side to the program is that some entrepreneurs may look for various methods of reducing or retaining their required expenses — such as telling young people in need of work to hand back some of their wages.

For the second student, a young woman in her 20s who asked to be driven to a restaurant so she’s not spotted speaking to a reporter, the practice of being asked for about $300 of her pay to be returned in cash was identical to the first student.

She said she had initially found work in the fast-food sector after graduating from UPEI, but the money was better at a PNP company.

She said she agreed to give the owners back about $300 monthly, about an eighth of her wages, in cash, and that she felt sullied by the practice.

“I don’t like this but it’s hard for me to find another job at that time,” she said.

At Robbie’s Store on University Avenue in Charlottetown, Dexter Liu, an international student from China who recently graduated from UPEI, sits at the counter of a shop created under the provincial nominee program.

The shop sells an array of toy tops, along with an assortment of hardware items ranging from hammers to tape. Its wares are extremely similar to goods sold at a store next door owned by another provincial nominee.

Liu said he made five sales that day, about typical for most of his shifts.

“More and more Chinese people come here, and improve the economy of P.E.I. But some of provincial nominee program (candidates), to be honest, stay here for one year and then they move to another place,” he said.

Asked about whether students must agree to give back their wages, he said that’s not the case and that his boss gives him his full wages and pays for gas expenses for out-of-town trips.

“I don’t think it’s happening a lot. In my job, my boss gave me all of the money,” he said during an interview.

Heath MacDonald, the minister of Economic Development in Prince Edward Island, said in an interview that his department wants to hear directly from any students experiencing the alleged abuses.

“We do have checks and balances in place,” he said in an interview at his office.

A followup email from his office said: “We take these concerns very seriously and we have a number of safeguards in place. We will explore additional measures in the full knowledge that there is always room for review and improvement.”

“Anyone with a concern or a complaint is encouraged to contact the Office of Immigration or the employment standards division. All complaints will be investigated and the identity of the individual will be protected until such time as their testimony may be required.”

The department says it provides newcomers with information about Canadian laws, “so that they have a sense of what is right and what is wrong, and so they know what to do if they think they are being treated improperly.”

Employment standards officers make presentations to the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada, and information brochures and posters in several languages are made available.

“We will be launching a ‘tips’ website with information on who to contact and what sort of information is required if a newcomer believes they are being treated improperly. That’s in addition to what we already provide,” said the email.

Paul Yin, the president of the Canadian Chinese Association of Prince Edward Island, said further actions need to be taken to ensure that students don’t have to give their pay back to PNP owners.

“I think this is serious,” said Yin, who came to the Island through the program and operated a flower shop.

“It’s the first time he heard of that situation. It’s no good. It’s bad,” he added, speaking through a translator.

“The Chinese P.E.I. Association can release this information . . . to our community that this is against the law and nobody should do that again.”

Abbey MacPherson, director of the Office of Immigration, said she has 10 employees who can play a role in enforcement and there are both announced and unannounced checks on the companies.

But for the young man who spoke to The Canadian Press, coming forward isn’t an option until he has managed to obtain enough work to gain his permanent residency and he feels safer from retribution.

In the meantime, “the oversight system needs to be stricter,” he said.

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Wynne government must support college students let down by unprecedented strike: NDP Education Critic

Posted on 24 November 2017 by admin

QUEEN’S PARK—In question period on Wednesday, NDP Education Critic Peggy Sattler was determined to get answers for college students concerned that the strike at colleges throughout Ontario is costing them financially. She also raised concerns about how the impact of the strike on students’ career, family, financial and life plans is negatively affecting their mental health.

The labour dispute between college faculty and the College Employer Council is now in its fifth week, and a potential lawsuit is now in the works. Sattler said the legal move shows just how much Wynne has let students down – and how little they’re willing to trust her to take care of them going forward.

“Today college students will be demonstrating at Queen’s Park for a tuition refund, and yesterday a class action law suit was launched on behalf of the 500,000 Ontario college students whose classes were cancelled because of the strike,” said Sattler. “The lawsuit seeks to recover damages related to tuition, as well as meal plans and residence fees, because students are not getting what they paid for. This Liberal government’s failure to fund the college system appropriately [and] its failure to lead during this labour dispute has created a hot mess.”

New Democrats have consistently called on the Wynne Liberals to address their chronic underfunding of post-secondary education, which created conditions that resulted in the labour dispute. This systemic underfunding by consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments, resulting in the strike now in its fifth week, has also led to unprecedented stress for students who have career, family, financial and life plans on the line, leading to a crisis in student mental health.

Sattler noted that earlier this month, the College Student Alliance joined the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario and Council of Ontario Universities at the Queen’s Park launch of “In It Together,” an action plan to address student mental health.  “The plan was developed through an unprecedented collaboration across the post-secondary sector, because of this Liberal government’s failure to deal with the crisis in student mental health, with rates that have more than more than doubled over the last five years,” said Sattler. “There is already a crisis in student mental health, and as this strike drags on, with no end in sight, we are hearing alarming stories of even more students being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. These students feel despair as they watch their futures slip away. They worry how they will ever manage the increased debt they will have to take on to complete their programs.”

“What specific plans has this government put in place to support the thousands of college students who are suffering, and whose mental health has been compromised because of this strike?” asked Sattler.

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Almost half of Ontario youth miss school because of anxiety, study suggests

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

A survey commissioned by Children’s Mental Health Ontario suggests that children and parents miss school and work to cope with mental illness.

At five years old, Shannon Nagy told her mother she wanted to die. In Grade 6, she missed almost the entire school year because more often than not, she couldn’t get out of bed.

Nagy, now 20, was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and borderline personality disorder and was never able to finish high school. She spent most of her childhood immersed in a mental health care system that she said “did more harm than good.”

Her struggle to get help and the impact that struggle had on her education is a trend captured in a new survey commissioned by Children’s Mental Health Ontario, released Tuesday.

It found of the 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed across the province:

•          46 per cent had missed school due to issues related to anxiety.

•          40 per cent had sought mental health help.

•          Of those, 50 per cent found the experience of getting help challenging.

•          42 per cent did not get the help they needed or are still waiting.

Parents are also impacted when their child has to wait as long as 18 months for mental health care, said Kimberly Moran, CEO of CMHO, the association that represents Ontario’s publicly funded Mental Health Centres and advocates for government policies and programs.

“Parents miss work and certainly myself as a parent, I have to take time to look after my daughter,” Moran said.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Ministry of Children and Youth Services did not respond to requests from the Star for comment, with Monday being a holiday.

The study, conducted by research firm Ipsos, surveyed 806 people in October and suggests that a quarter of parents have had to miss work to care for their child due to issues related to anxiety.

When her 11-year-old daughter tried to die by suicide while on a year-long wait list for mental health care, Moran took a four-month leave of absence and then worked part-time. Six years later, she still takes about 10 per cent of the year off to help her daughter.

Half of the parents surveyed found getting their child mental health help was challenging because wait times are long, they don’t know where to go, or service providers don’t offer what their child needs, don’t exist in their community, are too far away or aren’t available at convenient times.

Anxiety is one of the “big front-runners” when it comes to mental illness in youth, said Lydia Sai-Chew, CEO of Skylark Children, Youth and Families, which offers free counselling and mental health services in Toronto. Wait times at Skylark for in-patient programs can be up to six months.

“The difficulty with wait times is that the youth gets more stressed, but so does the family,” Sai-Chew said. “Anxieties build up. They don’t have the strategies and it just gets worse.”

For 13 years, Michele Sparling of Oakville has juggled owning a business and taking care of her son who was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when he was 10 years old.

“If your child is home from school, you’re not leaving them alone,” Sparling said. “You’re worried when you have to step out for a moment. When a fire truck goes through your neighbourhood, you think ‘not my kid, not my kid.’

“That worry is constant.”

She said her family struggled to get her son the help he needed. In between driving him to and from appointments in Toronto, she got used to telling clients she might have to end a meeting at a moment’s notice if a crisis occurred. She watched as her son had to miss school, and continues to care for him now as he struggles with mental illness in university.

“This is not just about this one person, it’s about the bigger picture, the lost potential,” Sparling said. “I think we’re doing young people such a disservice.”

CMHO is asking the province to invest $125 million in community-based mental health centres, staffing and services for children and youth.

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Students worry as Ontario college strike hits third week

Posted on 03 November 2017 by admin

Concerns about losing semester surface as no end in sight and both sides remain far apart.

College students are now worried about the possibility of losing their semester as a strike by their teachers enters its third week.

With the job action dragging on, they are also worried that in order to save the school year, it could instead be extended — adding to their expenses and interfering with job plans.

A protest and rally are planned for Wednesday at Queen’s Park.

“Though a college semester has never been lost because of a faculty strike, students are increasingly concerned about this becoming reality,” said Joel Willett, president of the College Student Alliance, in a written statement. “Lost class time, especially a lost semester, can result in delayed graduation, additional financial requirements, and student visa confusion. This is not what students signed up for.”

Willett said students are suffering, and “we urge negotiating parties to remember students are at college to learn and not to be used as pawns.”

The strike, which began Oct. 16, saw 12,000 full-time and partial-load instructors — those who teach anywhere from seven to 12 hours a week — hit the picket lines at the province’s 24 public colleges, impacting more than 300,000 students. The Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU), which represents instructors, is fighting for at least 50 per cent of teachers to be full-time, as well as improvements to wages.

The College Employer Council has said the union’s demands will cost $250 million, and lead to the loss of thousands of contract positions. It argues half of all teaching hours are covered by full-time professors, and that its final offer to the union gives preference to full-time hiring.

(Depending on how it’s calculated, full-time faculty represent about one-third of all teachers strictly by head count, and by teaching hours they represent about 50 per cent.)

Ontario college students lent support to striking faculty members Wednesday at a rally outside the province’s advanced education ministry in Toronto. One student says the length of the strike, which began Oct. 15, is “nerve-wracking.” (The Canadian Press)

Council CEO Don Sinclair has said the colleges have to reach a deal that is fiscally responsible and that gives flexibility in hiring given declining enrolment.

Both sides remain far apart, and have said they will return to the table when the mediator believes there is some hope of a deal.

“There are no talks scheduled and we are equally as frustrated as the students,” said J.P. Hornick, who is head of OPSEU’s college bargaining team. She said the union wants to bargain, “but we can’t really negotiate if the other side is saying there is one path to a settlement. We are hopeful (advanced education) Minister Matthews uses to her position . . . to push them back to the table and move them from their positions.”

The union has a rally and march planned for Thursday, and Hornick said morale remains “very high on the picket lines. Faculty are worried and want to be back in our classrooms, but people are willing to stand strong on this for as long as it takes.”

The government, which is not a party to the negotiations, has been urging both sides to return to the table.

Sinclair said the colleges are equally frustrated “because we believe this is an unnecessary strike that’s disrupted hundreds of thousands of students. Our faculty should be in the classroom teaching their students. OPSEU has created this mess; they know where the settlement zone is” but aren’t willing to compromise.

Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development, has said she is very troubled by the lack of talks, but that it’s too early to talk about when the government might intervene.

“We respect the collective bargaining process which is a process between the faculty union and the College Employer Council. We ‎know that the solution to this strike is at the bargaining table; however, the bargaining parties have not met since the strike began,” Matthews said.

“Both the premier and myself are urging both parties to return to the table and find a solution that allows students to return to the classroom where they belong.”

Matthews met with student groups last week and she said “they have real and understandable concerns about the impact this strike may have on their education … we are committed to doing everything we can to connect students to the resources they need to stay informed. I encourage students to continue to make their voices heard and urge both parties back to the table to get an agreement that quickly that puts students back in the classroom‎.”

She said the federal government has given assurances that students here on a visa will not be adversely impacted by the strike.

And, Matthews added, “every college is working to have a contingency plan so that when they do come back, no students will lose their semester.”

At the legislature, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has said the premier needs to put more pressure to get the two sides back to bargaining.

“We can’t afford to have students lose their academic year,” he told reporters.

NDP education critic Peggy Sattler said students are unfairly caught in the middle.

“They worry whether they will be able to complete their program requirements. Many are paying both tuition and rent, and are understandably anxious about the financial burden they are carrying when their semester might be lost.”

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College faculty union seeks strike date as talks continue

Posted on 30 September 2017 by admin

OPSEU says it could be in a strike position by mid-October.

With talks continuing but little progress made, the union representing 12,000 Ontario college faculty is now seeking a “no-board” report — which would put instructors in a strike position by the middle of October.

On Friday, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union — which represents full-time professors and those teaching a “partial-load” — said it had made the request to a conciliator to put pressure on the colleges and “trigger real negotiations.”

But Sonia Del Missier, who heads the colleges’ bargaining team, said “continued threats by the union to strike are not going to help us reach a negotiated settlement.

“The union repeatedly states that it wants to avoid a strike. Yet, after just two days of bargaining (last week), the union chose to start the strike countdown clock.”

The two sides continue bargaining on Monday and are expected to meet all week.

The College Employer Council, which bargains for all 24 public institutions in Ontario, has said the union’s proposals would cost $400 million a year, and lead to thousands of lost contract jobs.

The union’s demands “are not the basis for settlement,” said Del Missier.

But for the union, bolstering the ranks of full-time positions, instead of the more precarious contract work, is a priority, as well as giving academic staff a say in how the colleges are run by creating a governing body similar to university senates.

Faculty have voted 68 per cent in favour of a strike, with about 60 per cent of full-time and partial-load instructors — who teach from seven to 12 hours weekly — casting ballots.

JP Hornick, head of the union’s bargaining team, recently told reporters at Queen’s Park the colleges were “stonewalling” negotiations, and has accused them of demanding concessions.

Del Missier, however, said the colleges’ proposal contains no concessions, offers a lump-sum payment as well as improvements to benefits.

“We do have a good offer on the table,” she said in a phone interview. “We remain committed to achieving a negotiated settlement, one that is fair to faculty, but, at the same time, affordable and responsible.”

The schools, represented by the College Employer Councilhave offered a 7.5 per cent raise over the next four years, putting the highest-paid professors at about $115,000.

Del Missier said any decision about creating a senate is outside of bargaining parameters. As well, the union’s current position on staffing ratios would bring 2,840 new full-time positions, but at a cost of 7,120 contract jobs.

But for OPSEU, the move to add more full-time jobs “is about creating stability in the system,” said Hornick.

The OPSEU union local represents professors and “partial-load” instructors, among others. Of its 12,000 members, 7,500 are full-time, and 4,500 partial-load.

OPSEU does not represent part-time or sessional faculty, though a union drive is underway.

In 2011, colleges faced a strike by support workers, and in 2006 a lengthy job action by instructors.

The colleges say full-time faculty cover 49 per cent of all teaching hours, and partial-load, 22 per cent. The remaining 29 per cent are covered by part-time and sessional faculty.

While the union has warned that the college system is nearing its breaking point, the College Employer Council says 83 per cent of grads have landed jobs six months after earning their diploma, and colleges have high approval ratings from employers and students themselves.

The colleges also say their offer is comparable to that reached by OPSEU support staff.

Since 2010, colleges have created 1,000 new academic positions — about half of them full-time.

During Wednesday’s Question Period, NDP education critic Peggy Sattler said the province’s 24 colleges “have seen an alarming rise in precarious work,” something post-secondary minister Deb Matthews said the government recognizes is an issue.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Matthews noted that while the government is not at the table, “nobody wants a strike — I think everybody wants what’s in the best interest of students.”

Academic college staff represented by OPSEU include:

•          Full-time college academic staff including permanent professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians. Their maximum salary is $107,000, but the average is closer to $90,000 a year.

•          Partial-load instructors who teach anywhere from seven to a maximum of 12 hours a week, and earn an average of $104 an hour for teaching. They are not paid for prep time, marking or for meeting with students outside of class. They are considered contract and reapply for their jobs every four months.

OPSEU is also hoping to soon represent:

•          Part-time faculty, who are on contract and teach less than six hours each week. They earn about $60 an hour, and are not paid for time spent preparing and marking. This group encompasses those who teach continuing education courses. They also must reapply for their jobs.

•          Sessional faculty, who are also considered contract faculty, with a 12-month maximum contract within a two-year time frame. They earn about $60 an hour, and can carry a full-time teaching load. They may also teach continuing education courses. They too reapply for their jobs.

 

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Empowering thousands of Canadian researchers and students to push the boundaries of knowledge and innovation

Posted on 15 September 2017 by admin

Half a billion in funding for scientists and engineers means more opportunities for discovery, skills training and job creation.

VICTORIA, Sept. 8, 2017 /CNW/ – When Canada’s scientists and engineers have the opportunity to succeed, they’re able to make the discoveries that lead to ground-breaking innovations, sustainable economic growth and a stronger middle class. The hard work of these researchers also helps new generations of students master the advanced skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.

That is why the Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, announced today $515 million in support for fundamental research through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) 2017 competition for the Discovery Grants program, scholarships and fellowships. This is NSERC’s largest annual investment, and it assists researchers by offering financial support though scholarships, fellowships, research supplements, and equipment grants.

Today’s announcement was made at the University of Victoria. It was also announced that Dr. Stephanie Willerth, a prominent University of Victoria researcher and Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering, will receive a Discovery Grant worth $120,000 over five years to support her work with stem cells.

Stem cells are identical biological cells that can separate into specialized cells and can divide to produce more stem cells. They can also act as a repair system for the human body, replenishing adult tissues. Dr. Willerth’s discovery research underpins her collaboration with Aspect Biosystems, a Vancouver-based company that produces 3D printing platforms for tissue engineering to find replacements for human tissue and organs that no longer function properly. By reprogramming a patient’s adult cells into their stem cell state, researchers will be able to develop any type of tissue, including heart, lung, skin and more. Ultimately, with the help of the 3D printing platform, a patient’s newly engineered cells can be used to test reactions to new drugs for diseases such as cancer.

This funding reflects the Government of Canada’s commitment to strengthen science by supporting the very people—our country’s remarkable scientists and engineers—who are working to build a better future for all.

Quotes

“The Government of Canada is committed to investing in fundamental research and engineering that will improve and enrich our country’s knowledge economy. We believe in encouraging scientists’ cutting-edge ideas that will lead Canada to greater social and economic growth. I am particularly proud of the support offered to postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows who, thanks to today’s investment, will be exposed to advanced training experiences that will prepare them for the jobs and opportunities of tomorrow.”

- The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

“At the core of every research project, every laboratory and every discovery, there are people. NSERC empowers these people to build an innovative, prosperous and inclusive society. NSERC Discovery Grants, scholarships and fellowships provide thousands of top researchers, students and fellows with the foundation they need to concretize their research ambitions and explore the unknown.”

- Dr. B. Mario Pinto, President, NSERC

“Our researchers and our institution as a whole benefit greatly from the NSERC discovery programs. These awards recognize that creativity and innovation drive research advances. We appreciate NSERC’s vital ongoing support for fundamental research and the training of the next generation of our leaders in natural sciences and engineering.”

- Professor Jamie Cassels, QC – President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Victoria

“NSERC funding has allowed me to conduct groundbreaking research in the field of tissue engineering and has connected with me several industrial partners, including Aspect Biosystems and Starfish Medical. It also helped me establish my lab when I was an early career researcher.”

- Dr. Stephanie Willerth, Professor at the University of Victoria

 

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