Labour and education in the news

Below are recent news stories on labour and education related issues.  Click the headline to be taken to the article. Some may require a subscription.

October 28, 2020

Memories of 2016 strike loom
The Manitoban
On Nov. 1, 2016, the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) declared a strike when fair mediations were unsuccessful with the University of Manitoba administration.

Honk-a-thon held after refusal to negotiate
The Manitoban
The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) held a honk-a-thon rally Oct. 20 to protest the U of M’s refusal to participate in binding arbitration, hindering progress on a new collective agreement.

Winnipeg students devastated after COVID restrictions silence school choirs
Winnipeg Free Press
Hundreds of students in Winnipeg have been ordered by the provincial government to stop singing — something a choir teacher says was an ill-informed decision impacting the mental health of students.

Province changes mind, allows portable classrooms
Winnipeg Free Press
After rejecting repeated requests for portables from the Pembina Trails School Division, the province has pulled a U-turn and promised to deliver two trailer-classrooms to address overcrowding at a south Winnipeg school.

Teachers say return to school this fall has left them with overwhelming stress and a never-ending workload
Classrooms look like they never have before this fall and teachers are feeling the weight of returning to school amid the pandemic, regardless of whether they're in a region deemed a COVID-19 hot spot or an area with little or no community transmission.

Jordan: Banned union press conference the latest crackdown by government on teachers’ rights
Education International
Education International condemns the banning of a Jordanian Teachers’ Association (JTA) public press conference scheduled for 26 October. The ban was imposed by Jordan’s authorities, with security forces delivering an order from the Governor of Amman to prohibit the union’s press conference. The JTA press conference was called to discuss the situation of education in Jordan and the conditions being experienced by teachers. The press conference also sought to reach out to JTA members as the organisation has been forcefully closed for two years.

Alberta union leaders plan anti-UCP campaign in wake of health care workers' wildcat strike
Globe and Mail
Labour leaders in Alberta, energized by workers who walked off the job at health care facilities across the province earlier this week, are amping up plans to fight the United Conservative Party on everything from education to the environment.

COVID-19 pandemic taking toll on migrant care workers in Canada, report says
Globe and Mail
Nannies and home caregivers toiling 12 to 14 hours a day, through weekends and holidays. Doing extra cleaning, disinfecting and child care, even though their overtime is unpaid. Trapped in their employers' homes because they are no longer allowed to go outside on their own.

Advocates call for legislation to rectify misclassification of gig workers
Foodsters organizer Ivan Ostos doesn't think he's asking for anything too radical.

October 27, 2020

Code-orange protocols make for strange classroom settings
Winnipeg Free Press
With a soundtrack of chatty eighth graders on repeat, Sean Fitzmaurice’s new office passes as a typical middle-years classroom.

'Huh? What?': Liberals block provincial sick leave bill
Winnipeg Free Press
The Manitoba Liberals held up a bill protecting workers who take federal paid sick leave benefits Monday, saying the province is not doing enough to help them.

Legislation that would allow more Manitoba workers to access paid sick leave during COVID-19 halted
The province has introduced legislation to make it easier for more workers to take sick days during COVID-19 and access federal benefits.

Province of Manitoba
Manitoba Finance is reminding employers to ensure that workplaces are safe and workers are adequately trained to perform their duties after employers were prosecuted for violations of the Workplace Safety and Health Act and its associated regulations.

Province of Manitoba
The Manitoba government is providing $750,000 to Futurpreneur to support a three-year youth economic recovery project to combat the economic effects of COVID-19, Economic Development and Training Minister Ralph Eichler announced today.

Loblaw secures 1 injunction against striking Dominion workers, loses dozens others
Loblaw Companies Limited has been granted an injunction prohibiting striking Dominion employees from picketing at a Mount Pearl distribution centre but has also lost dozens more.

Labour board declares strike illegal, orders Alberta health care workers back to work
Globe and Mail
Hundreds of health care workers and support staff in Alberta walked off the job Monday, prompting the provincial government to cancel all non-urgent operations, less than a week after scaling back procedures because of an increase in COVID-19 infections.

Alberta to limit temporary foreign worker program to create jobs for local citizens
Globe and Mail
The Alberta government is hoping to open jobs in the province for local people by closing some of them to foreigners.

Why the mayor of Compton is launching a guaranteed basic income pilot
Mayor Aja Brown is bringing a guaranteed income program to Compton, Calif.

Belarusians strike nationwide in latest push to oust president
Factory workers, students and business owners in Belarus on Monday began a strike to demand that authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko resign after more than two months of continuing mass protests following a disputed election.

October 26, 2020

Red River College expanding course training students, health care workers how to swab for COVID-19
Red River College and the provincial government are expanding a course that's training students and other health-care workers to perform nasal swabs in order to increase COVID-19 testing capacity across Manitoba.

Post-secondary students call for changes to online exam rules as cheating concerns rise
Canadian colleges and universities are in the midst of midterm exam season. But with many students forced to trade in-person lectures and labs for online learning during the pandemic and experts reporting rising cases of academic misconduct, students as well as some instructors are raising the alarm about the software being used to assess them.

Why I Walk the Line at U of O
Our Times
I was cold today. And wet. And quite frankly, more than a little pissed off. This was my second day on the picket line, third day of the strike. And I'll tell you, it's not a situation that is pleasant. I wish I could just work and get paid and take care of my family.

Striking during the pandemic 'extremely challenging' say U of O support staff
About 1,300 support workers at the University of Ottawa who walked off the job Monday morning say they're worried the strike comes at a time when no one is paying attention to their story.

Why Performance-Based College Funding Doesn’t Work
The Century Foundation
For the better part of the past century, elected officials have sought ways to improve the performance of public sector operations, such as fire departments, libraries, health clinics, job training programs, elementary schools, and traffic safety.1 Interest in performance management has only grown over time, to the point today that it is nearly impossible to talk about government finance without also talking about performance. The idea of attempting to measure outcomes and paying for those results is compelling because of its simple logic. Proponents believe setting clear performance goals and tying funding to them will create incentives for public organizations to operate more efficiently and effectively, ultimately resulting in better delivery of public services. Fire departments, they reason, should not be funded according to the number of engines they own, but according to the number of fires they put out. Hospitals should be funded not by the number of patients admitted, but by the health outcomes of their patients. Schools should not be funded by the number of teachers they employ, but by each teacher’s contribution to student learning.

Province of Manitoba
The Manitoba government plans to introduce amendments today to the Employment Standards Code so more workers can take protected leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic and apply for federal benefits, announced Premier Brian Pallister.

Province calls for wage freeze for some Manitoba Hydro workers
The Manitoba government wants thousands of Hydro workers to agree to two years without any wage increase, despite a recent court decision which struck down government legislation requiring a wage freeze.

People with disabilities deserve a basic income
Globe and Mail
Last month’s Throne Speech committed to the creation of a new Canadian Disability Benefit for persons with disabilities – that’s good news. The details remain vague, but some disability advocates have long championed a basic income for people with disabilities. The new Disability Benefit may offer a step toward that reality.

Canada’s unions launch initiative to shine a light on harassment and violence at work
Canadian Labour Congress
With the pandemic as the backdrop, researchers and unions are launching a national survey that aims to gauge the severity and measure the response to violence and harassment in Canada’s workplaces.

Workers ready to ‘walk till they win’ in Dominion store strike
Canadian Labour Institute for Social and Economic Fairness
IT DIDN’T MATTER THAT IT WAS THANKSGIVING, Danni Singleton was still out walkin the line. Just like she’s been doing for the 50 days since August 22 when Unifor Local 597 went on strike.

Nova Scotia job study shows COVID-19 impact on workers
Rank and File
Work has drastically changed for Nova Scotians during the COVID-19 pandemic. A group of researchers from Acadia University are studying work and health during COVID-19 through the experiences of grocery and retail workers, long-term care workers, and teachers in Nova Scotia. 

Health-care workers take to the streets to protect Alberta patients
Front-line hospital workers have walked off the job at locations across Alberta today (Monday, Oct. 26) to defend their jobs and the public healthcare system that keeps Albertans safe and alive.

Belarus strike action begins
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko ignored an opposition ultimatum to quit Monday as local media showed factory workers and students protesting as part of an intended general strike.

October 23, 2020

Code orange called on city schools
Winnipeg Free Press
Just as teachers and students had adjusted to an academic year unlike any other, Manitoba’s top doctor has prescribed a string of stricter protocols for schools in the province’s capital and northern region.

Report sheds new light on harmful impacts of student questionnaire feedback
In recent years there has been mounting evidence of the dubious validity and inherent bias in student questionnaires on courses and teaching (SQCTs), sometimes also known as student evaluations of teaching (SETs).

Navigating the new roadmap for additional compensation during coronavirus pandemic
After seven months of negotiations, UWOFA and the employer have agreed to a new process to address additional teaching workloads experienced by the majority of UWOFA members. The employer recognizes that faculty members are working overtime preparing to teach remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. As a remedy, the employer has agreed to provide additional compensation under certain circumstances.

U of O president calls for 'calm and reflection' in wake of N-word firestorm
As the firestorm over a professor's use of the N-word in class continues to envelop the academic community and beyond, University of Ottawa president and vice-chancellor Jacques Frémont called for calm Thursday.

Learning about residential schools in elementary grades 'non-negotiable,' education minister says
Despite the recommendations of hand-picked government advisers, Alberta elementary school students will learn about residential schools in a new curriculum, the education minister says.

Activists call for release of Carleton doctoral student detained in Turkey
The Charlatan
Professors and activists are calling for the release of Cihan Erdal, a Carleton doctoral candidate who was detained in Turkey last month.

Paternity leave policies are improving for men in academia
University Affairs
Danny Leznoff was the first male in Simon Fraser University’s chemistry department to take parental leave after the birth of his child, something he has done twice. Early in the new millennium, Dr. Leznoff says his experience at SFU was at “the pointy edge of the wedge university-wide.” His first daughter, Sayako, was born in July 2004. Having recently received tenure, the associate professor took paternity leave for four months – one term – that September. But he wasn’t originally planning to take time off at all.

Winnipeg home-care workers not told when clients test positive for COVID-19, union claims
The union that represents health-care support staff in Winnipeg says some of its members have to beg for personal protective equipment, and aren't being told when they're working with a patient who has COVID-19.

National survey about workplace harassment and violence launches today
Stories of workplace sexual harassment have started conversations about the impact of such experiences on workers, but researchers now want to put hard data behind the narratives to push for meaningful policy change.

The disturbing trends behind Canada’s shrinking gender wage gap
Globe and Mail
Average wages have risen since the onset of the pandemic, most particularly for women, closing the gender wage gap sharply in the past seven months.

The Rise of the ‘Carebnb’: Is This Home-Based Model the Future of the Childcare Industry?
or the past six years, Brittany Schultz has been a kindergarten teacher in the Denver public school system. On May 28, she left, and on June 15, she opened Ms. Brittany’s Village day care in her home in Commerce City, Colo., with her three children and one from another family. Within two months of opening, she was, she says, making the same money as she had made in a classroom but was responsible for only nine kids. She and her husband, who works with her, currently earn about $5,000 a month.

October 22, 2020

Fifty-five facilities slapped with grievances over masks
Winnipeg Free Press
The union that represents 14,500 health-care staff in Manitoba has filed 55 grievances against the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Shared Health after members say they have been denied or have had to "beg" for appropriate personal protective equipment at work.

Alberta to cut 930 public service jobs in agriculture, forestry, community service
Globe and Mail
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says the government is cutting 930 public service jobs.

AUPE blasts Kenney government for 'another attack on workers'
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says it has been notified that up to 930 of its members jobs "are on the line" due to cuts being considered by the provincial government.

Letter to Ministers Freeland and Garneau: Re-Nationalization of Canada’s Airlines – the Time is Now!
We have all watched with horror as the Covid Pandemic has impacted friends and families across Canada. It is a health crisis of great enormity, and all Canadians share in our common interest to find a solution to this disease and end the needless infections and deaths we are witnessing across our country and around the world.

Manitoba looks to Tennessee model in efforts to tailor post-secondary education to labour market
Premier Brian Pallister is looking at the example of an American state that pioneered performance-based funding for post-secondary institutions, as Manitoba seeks a new way to finance higher education.

U of M Rejects Arbitration
Manitoba Post
The University of Manitoba has rejected an offer of contract arbitration from its faculty members.

Schools searching for safe (and warm) spaces as winter approaches
Winnipeg Free Press
As temperatures drop and administrators search for solutions to cramped schools, students in Louis Riel School Division could soon be learning in tents and church basements.

Education experts slam leaked Alberta curriculum proposals
Curriculum advisers hand-picked by the Alberta government are recommending changes to the kindergarten-to-Grade 4 curriculum for fine arts and social studies that would eliminate all references to residential schools and "equity."

The pandemic is forcing educators to rethink how they evaluate students. Here's why
As high schools across the country scrap exams because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some experts say now is the time to re-evaluate what those tests look like to ensure they serve all students.

University of Ottawa professor at centre of controversy involving racial slur says she regrets actions
Globe and Mail
A professor who used the n-word in a class at the University of Ottawa said she regrets her actions, worries that she may have hurt some of her students and didn’t realize it would be unacceptable in an academic context.

Lessons Learned: A Case Study of Performance Funding in Higher Education
Over the past decade, policymakers at different levels of government have experimented with ways to incentivize institutions of higher education to improve student outcomes. Yet as middling graduation rates and post-graduation outcomes still persist across our higher education system, what can we learn from what these laboratories of democracy have already tried? And as Congress considers another major overhaul of the Higher Education Act, what are the implications of those lessons for federal policy? The purpose of this report is to survey the national landscape of performance funding policies in higher education. This report explains the theory behind performance funding and examines the most recent empirical research on whether these policies have led to improved student outcomes. Finally, it proposes recommendations for designing effective performance funding policies, with a focus on implications for access and equity. Ultimately, this research on existing performance funding systems can provide important lessons for moving toward a federal system that holds institutions or academic programs more accountable for the outcomes they are providing to their students.

October 21, 2020

Manitoba wage-freeze bill unconstitutional, removes 'fair process,' unions to argue in court
Manitoba unions representing thousands of public-sector workers are taking Brian Pallister's provincial government to court Monday to fight a wage-freeze bill that the Manitoba Federation of Labour says removes the right of employees to collective bargaining.

Courtrooms face row over rights
Winnipeg Free Press
Two former criminal defence lawyers, who both stopped practising law in part because Manitoba’s courts were too difficult to navigate in their wheelchairs, have filed human rights complaints over inaccessible buildings, washrooms and walkways.

City takes step toward implementing 'living wage'
Winnipeg Free Press
City of Winnipeg employees could be guaranteed a wage of at least $15 per hour by 2023.

Canada’s unions call for immediate federal action to uphold treaty rights of Mi’kmaq Fishers
Canada’s unions are condemning the illegal efforts of non-Indigenous fishers to sabotage the inherent rights of the Mi’kmaq people to hunt, fish and gather off the coast of Nova Scotia, and are calling on the federal government to take immediate action to end the racist violence and uphold their treaty rights.

An Oil Company Was Angry Police Would Not Stop Picketing Workers. The CEO Claims Scott Moe’s People Offered to Help.
Press Progress
Saskatchewan’s government quietly assured an oil company that it would intervene if the company lost “confidence” in police responding to a labour dispute involving 750 picketing workers, according to a letter signed by the oil company’s CEO.

Education system must reflect communities' diversity
Winnipeg Free Press
THE Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle and the Newcomers Education Coalition recently released their respective State of Equity in Education reports, which brought attention to the underrepresentation of Indigenous and racialized peoples as trustees on school boards, teachers in schools and students in the faculties of education.

St. Mary's reverses home-learning plan
Winnipeg Free Press
St. Mary’s Academy has cancelled plans to move high school students to remote learning following criticism from parents who said the proactive move was both unfair and unnecessary.

Pembina Trails School Division develops its own COVID-19 contact tracing system
A southwest Winnipeg school division is seeing success with its own COVID-19 contact tracing system using QR codes.

Universities, school boards across Canada defend ties with China’s Confucius Institute
Globe and Mail
Canadian schools and universities that maintain ties with China’s Confucius Institute say they see no reason to reassess those partnerships, despite new questions over what role the Chinese-government-backed education organization has in some Vancouver-area schools.

McGill University provides job opportunities for students amid pandemic
McGill University
As many students struggle to find work amid the pandemic, McGill University launches new Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities for students to develop important digital skills for the future, with the support of the Government of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program and TECHNATION, Canada’s leading national technology association.

Legault says University of Ottawa should have defended professor in debate over offensive language
Globe and Mail
Quebec Premier François Legault says the University of Ottawa should have defended a professor who used a derogatory word for Black people in class.