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.

May 5, 2021

Declaring outbreak in school left to officials' 'discretion'
Winnipeg Free Press
The bar for declaring a COVID-19 outbreak in a Manitoba school allows for the possibility of transmission in cohorts — which can include up to 75 students — before public health announces one.

Louis Riel division students talk post-pandemic learning
Winnipeg Free Press
Throughout a stressful senior year of high school, amid a public health crisis, Priya Meyler has found unexpected comfort in a kindergarten classic: colouring pages.

Next step taken toward renaming Cecil Rhodes School
Winnipeg Free Press
Cecil Rhodes School will get a new name, despite mixed feelings in the community about cutting ties with its namesake — a former prime minister of what is now known as South Africa, whose ideas laid the groundwork for racist apartheid policies.

Current MUN students won't pay more if tuition goes up, says university president
Memorial University president Vianne Timmons says she and the university are open to discussions surrounding the proposed lift of the tuition freeze for post-secondary institutions in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ontario to offer online learning option for entire 2021-22 school year
Globe and Mail
Students in Ontario can opt to take all their classes online when the new school year begins in September, but the province’s Education Minister could not say Tuesday if a return to class to finish the current academic year will be possible.

Alberta vows to curb university’s research ties to China
Globe and Mail
The Alberta government is expressing alarm and vowing to take action to curtail the University of Alberta’s collaboration with China in strategically important scientific and technology fields.

RCMP investigating newspaper ads attacking teachers' unions
The RCMP is investigating an Ontario group that ran newspaper ads criticizing teachers' unions after the provincial elections watchdog found it violated campaign finance rules

Ontario’s Government Found 15,000 COVID-19 Workplace Violations. They Stopped Work Only 24 Times.
Press Progress
Doug Ford’s Ministry of Labour found over 15,000 COVID-19 infractions and filed 450 tickets across about 19, 000 workplaces from January to April 2021, but the Ministry only stopped work 24 times — before hard-hit regions intervened to close dangerous workplaces themselves.

Civilian staffers at Department of Defence also reporting bullying and harassment, say unions
The number of complaints of harassment, bullying and even sexual misconduct involving civilian employees at the Department of National Defence (DND) has increased in tandem with those being reported on the military side, say two unions representing workers.

Trump era rule that made it harder for gig and contract workers to get minimum wage is withdrawn
Washington Post
The Labor Department is rescinding a rule that made it harder for gig and contract workers to argue they were entitled to minimum wage and overtime protections, part of a push to undo Trump-era decisions that favored businesses and employers.

May 4, 2021

Colleges partner to deliver workforce training
Winnipeg Free Press
Four community colleges across Canada — from Manitoba, Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia — are partnering for a new tuition-free training program that supports economic recovery for the supply-chain and goods-movement sector.

Manitoba education reform bill built on 'false, divisive premises': former administrators
Winnipeg Free Press
Thirty retired superintendents have signed an open letter against Bill 64, in the hopes of halting the province's sweeping reforms to K-12 education.

URFA opposes IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism
University of Regina Faculty Association
On April 6, 2021 URFA’s Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee unan­i­mous­ly passed a motion to sup­port aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom by reject­ing the Inter­na­tion­al Holo­caust Remem­brance Alliance’s (IHRA) Work­ing Def­i­n­i­tion of Anti­semitism. In doing so, URFA joins the Aca­d­e­m­ic Alliance Against Anti­semitism, Racism, Colo­nial­ism & Cen­sor­ship in Cana­da (ARC), which is made up of more than 20 fac­ul­ty asso­ci­a­tions and unions.

University of Sask. faculty want vaccine requirement for those returning to campus
Ahead of a potential return to in-class learning this fall, professors at the University of Saskatchewan are calling for anyone coming back to campus this year to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

USask: Vaccines expected, but won't be mandatory for those returning to campus
The University of Saskatchewan expects everyone returning to campus this fall to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but a statement from the province's largest post-secondary institution indicates it won't make the vaccines mandatory.

Ryerson students in uproar over erasing of message critical of donor’s photo with Trump
Globe and Mail
Ryerson University students, faculty and alumni criticized the university on social media for erasing a message critical of a wealthy donor who posted a photo in which she posed with former U.S. president Donald Trump.

Pandemic-To-Permanent: 11 Lasting Changes To Higher Education
Some say higher education will largely return to pre-pandemic normal in the coming academic year or two. Others predict a mass extinction of colleges and universities. Both are extreme ends (and highly unlikely scenarios) of the spectrum of what might happen to higher education. Somewhere in between those extremes, though, are eleven clear and lasting changes to higher education as a result of the pandemic:

CRA rules against civil service union push to make Phoenix damages non-taxable
National Post
Canada’s biggest civil service union says it is considering taking legal action after the Canada Revenue Agency ruled that damages paid to federal employees in connection with the troubled Phoenix pay system are taxable.

Why the hold up on paid sick days? It's about power.
Policy Note
Amid a raging pandemic, how do Canadian workers still not have paid sick days as a basic right of employment? It’s about power.

Protect those on Canada's front lines
Winnipeg Free Press
On Tuesday morning, I was getting ready for work, when my phone rang with my child’s school name flashing on the screen.

Seafarers' union 'fighting hard' for vaccinations as quarantined cargo ship stays anchored off N.L.
The Seafarers' International Union of Canada says it's nearly impossible for crew members aboard cargo ships to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, as an outbreak aboard a massive cargo ship anchored off eastern Newfoundland shows the toll the pandemic is taking on workers.

'You've failed us:' Staff from a Canadian quarantine hotel have a message for Trudeau
On Monday, May 3, workers from a Canadian quarantine hotel in Vancouver went on strike for the second time since the beginning of the current travel orders.

May 3, 2021

Province of Manitoba
Following a successful past summer program, the province is renewing its partnership with InformNet to increase access to online summer school programming and provide one more avenue for advancing education for grade 9 to 12 students in Manitoba, Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

GUEST COLUMN: Advancing Manitoba Education
Winnipeg Sun
I would like to take this opportunity to address a lot of the misinformation being purported by school boards, trustees, union leaders and political opponents for the sole purpose of creating fear and anxiety for parents, school staff, and students. These types of tactics prevent any progress in order to protect their monopoly and their own vested interests. As Education Minister, I am committed to make sure Manitoba students have every opportunity to reach their full potential and achieve success.

ALDRICH: Phasing out education tax won't just help well-to-do
Winnipeg Sun
According to the NDP, everyone who owns property is a rich friend of Premier Brian Pallister and are the only ones who will benefit from the phase out of the education tax on their property tax bill.

The cost of losing school trustees
Winnipeg Free Press
OUR provincial government has taken the stance that eliminating school boards is a win-win situation for education, parents, local communities and schools. Like many of their claims in the BEST ("Better Education Starts Today") document in support of Bill 64, this one is based on outright ignorance, incomplete "truths" and faulty reasoning.

'Relatively bleak': Post-secondary students face rising debt and few summer jobs
CTV News
CALGARY -- Michelle Benz thought she was playing it smart when she went back to school after being laid off from the oil and gas sector six years ago.

From dance to drama to drawing, children need an arts education now more than ever
Globe and Mail
A pandemic can make little things once taken for granted feel like a very big deal. Dancers moving to the beat in the same actual studio. A group of young artists, learning to draw – together. Budding theatre artists singing in unison, not on Zoom.

Lift tuition freeze in N.L. and give campuses more power, says independent report
A new report on the state of higher education in Newfoundland and Labrador offers sweeping suggestions for the province's university and college network, including lifting a years-long tuition freeze to address the "true cost" of administering programs.

Students denounce proposed lift of N.L. tuition freeze
A comprehensive report examining Newfoundland and Labrador's post-secondary education system isn't sitting well with some students in the province, with the report's recommendation to lift the long-standing tuition freeze drawing criticism.

University of Sask. faculty want vaccine requirement for those returning to campus
Ahead of a potential return to in-class learning this fall, professors at the University of Saskatchewan are calling for anyone coming back to campus this year to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ontario freezes college, university tuition fees for residents for second year
CTV News
TORONTO -- Ontario is extending its college and university tuition freeze for residents by another year.

Laurentian University gets judge's approval to continue restructuring
Insolvent Laurentian University has cleared a critical obstacle to move forward on its plan for eventual financial stability after a judge on Sunday agreed to the terms of a stay that would protect the university from its creditors until Aug. 31.

CEGEP teachers vote for another strike day
CTV News
CEGEP teachers will be on strike again on May 13.

Aging workforce could slow post-COVID-19 recovery
Winnipeg Free Press
According to most projections, Canada’s labour force growth will continue to grow slowly for years, with gains entirely dependent on immigration as our population ages. However, as the pandemic has shown, projections about the future are inherently uncertain.

CN withholding pension from gay widower over outdated definition of spouse
Ken Haire was devastated when his partner of 33 years, Gerry Schwarz, died in 2012. He was even more distraught when he learned he wouldn't see a dollar of the survivor benefits built into Schwarz's pension because CN Rail's plan did not recognize same-sex relationships at the time of Schwarz's retirement.

No money left for pay raises, Legault tells 'guardian angels' and other public-sector workers
Premier François Legault told Quebec's nurses, teachers and elderly care workers on Sunday that the government had no money left in its coffers to offer them pay raises much higher than inflation.

Legault "optimistic" about agreement with public-sector unions
Montreal Gazette
Premier François Legault is “optimistic” that an agreement can be reached with Quebec’s 550,000 public-sector employees in the next few weeks, he told reporters on Sunday afternoon in Montreal — without any salary increases beyond those offered until now.

Union representing Ontario’s Ornge paramedics in favour of strike if necessary
Global News
Ontario’s air ambulance paramedics have raised the possibility of going on strike — an “absolute last consideration” if they can’t land an exemption from a provincial law that caps their salaries.

The relevance of May Day
How will you acknowledge the 1st of May? The provincial government probably won’t let you dance around a Maypole in any local parks. So maybe we can take a moment to ponder how people in Canada have celebrated this day more soberly for more than a century.

Trudeau’s anti-strike law is an illegal assault on human rights
International Transport Workers' Federation
Unions across the world are outraged to learn that Justin Trudeau’s Liberal minority government had teamed up with Canada’s Conservative opposition in the early hours of Thursday morning to progress legislation to rip away Montréal dockworkers’ right to strike.

April 30, 2021

Teachers' union pans Manitoba-North Dakota vaccination plan, calling it a ‘band-aid solution’
Winnipeg Sun
The province is expanding its vaccination partnership with North Dakota, a plan announced last week that will soon include eligibility for teachers and other education staff to cross the border and get a dose of vaccine.

Pallister's plan to inoculate teachers in North Dakota called 'crazy' rush job
Winnipeg Free Press
Manitoba teachers and a North Dakota health official were caught off guard Thursday when Premier Brian Pallister announced that school staff in this province would soon be able to cross the border to get vaccinated in North Dakota.

Manitoba teachers will be able to get vaccine in U.S., premier says, but union says it shows there was no plan
Manitoba teachers and other school employees will be able to get vaccinated in the U.S., Premier Brian Pallister says.

Schools facing teacher shortage
Winnipeg Free Press
The latest COVID-19 challenge for Manitoba schools is a shortage of teachers who are able to be in a physical classroom — a development that has, in part, led to more schools switching to remote learning.

Shut down all public schools in Winnipeg, teachers' union says
The union representing Manitoba teachers wants the provincial government to move all public schools in Winnipeg to remote learning.

Laurentian faculty, staff will have to join creditors’ pool to get their severance
A Laurentian University professor terminated as part of massive job and program cuts at the university says he and other faculty who lost their jobs will be forced to get in line with other creditors in an attempt to access severance pay.

Tuition cap, boosting student aid part of Alberta's 10-year strategy to overhaul post-secondary system
Edmonton Journal
Capping tuition fees and boosting student aid are among several changes the Alberta government is planning to implement as part of a 10-year overhaul of the post-secondary system.

No way universities will return to jam-packed lecture halls, Canadian researcher says
CTV News
A University of Calgary professor says universities need to modernize themselves and adapt to the advent of remote learning​, which isn't going away anytime soon.​

Beware! Academics are getting reeled in by scam journals
University Affairs
This past year, when an undergraduate biology student at the University of the Fraser Valley approached dean of science Lucy Lee for $2,000 to publish a paper in an academic journal, Dr. Lee had immediate concerns about the request. She’d had a bad experience with the journal in question, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, while doing a review for the publication. She discovered a lack of rigour in some of the journal’s articles, was alarmed at its many retractions and corrections, and had concerns with the journal’s practice of publishing an “acknowledgement” issue with a very long list of reviewers to make it look credible.

How a University of Iowa Reply-All Email Became Ground Zero for the Cancel Culture Wars
Vanity Fair
It was the reply-all no one wanted, and it came on a Friday in October just after lunch, when the students at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry were in clinical rotations with patients or had checked out for the weekend. The inciting email was sent by the college dean, David Johnsen, addressing the September 22, 2020, executive order from then president Donald Trump that banned diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training for the military, federal agencies, government contractors, and recipients of federal grants, including universities and nonprofits.

University of Waterloo researchers developing 20-minute COVID-19 saliva test kits
Global News
The University of Waterloo says researchers at the school are working on a new at-home COVID-19 saliva test, which would deliver results in less than 20 minutes.

Your free speech is at risk with Ottawa's push to regulate online content, experts warn
The federal government is facing an uproar over controversial changes to a bill that would bring videos and other content posted to social media sites like YouTube under the purview of the country's broadcasting regulator.

Government of Manitoba
The Manitoba government will provide more than $25 million that will support more than 8,000 youth employment opportunities this summer through the new Manitoba Youth Jobs Program and existing Green Team grants, Premier Brian Pallister and Municipal Relations Minister Derek Johnson announced today.

April 29, 2021

Gutting estimates is an attack on democracy
Winnipeg Free Press
Every year, the Manitoba government releases detailed departmental spending estimates following the unveiling of its budget. It’s a normal and important part of the budgeting process.

Frustrations mount as locked-out workers picket refugee settlement office in downtown Winnipeg
Fatuma Omar showed up for an appointment at Welcome Place in downtown Winnipeg on Wednesday morning only to find its employees locked out.

No paid sick leave forcing workers to make 'impossible choice' amid pandemic, union says
CTV News
The Manitoba NDP is calling on the province to make paid sick days permanent and standard, and provide paid leave for workers to go get vaccinated.

Manitoba mulling ways to help ill workers weather absences, but paid sick leave isn't yet one of them
If Manitoba had paid sick leave for all employees, Via Perez wouldn't worry about paying the bills when she's feeling ill.

Better paid sick leave might be coming to some provinces, but only after painful delay
Political circumstances and the pandemic's harsh reality have finally forced the debate over paid sick leave in Ontario a step closer to a reasonable conclusion.

A Hong Kong immigration bill threatens democratic values, and Canada must defend them
Globe and Mail
Ever since Hong Kong’s National Security Law took effect on July 1, 2020, the nakedness of Beijing’s control over the Hong Kong regional government has been swift and unimaginably aggressive.

Ontario to provide three paid sick days after months of pressure
Globe and Mail
Ontario will provide workers with three paid sick days to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic until the fall, a major turnaround for Premier Doug Ford’s government that critics said was still inadequate.

Ontario conservatives put profits ahead of workers with just three paid sick days
Following today's provincial announcement, Unifor is once again asking the Ontario government to introduce permanent, employer-paid sick leave that meets the needs of workers.

CLC: Back-to-work legislation undermines workers' rights
Regina Leader-Post
The Canadian Labour Congress is condemning the Government of Canada’s decision to introduce back-to-work legislation against workers at the Port of Montreal.

May 1st: Join the Justice for Workers Rally
Workers' Action Centre
It’s become painfully clear that making sure essential workers are protected at work is not a priority for the Ford government. That ends now. This May Day, workers are rising up with a new set of demands for the Ontario government. On Saturday, May 1st at 11:00 am, join the Justice for Workers Online Rally to raise your voice along with hundreds of people demanding essential worker protections.

Biden Signs Executive Order to Promote Collective Bargaining
Government Executive
President Biden on Monday signed an executive order aimed at identifying new and existing policies across the federal government to encourage workers in both the public and private sector to organize and form labor unions and reaffirming that agencies should act as a “role model” for employers.

Altona teacher suspended after attending anti-mask rally
Winnipeg Free Press
A rural Manitoba teacher has been suspended for attending an anti-mask rally in Winnipeg Sunday after parents raised concerns she might expose their children to COVID-19.

Learning loss while out of school —is it now time to worry?
Globe and Mail
Early in the pandemic, teachers expressed worry that COVID-19 school closures were widening inequalities and achievement gaps. Parents also worried about learning loss. With the recent school closures in Ontario, this worry has grown to a fever pitch among some educators, parents, and students. But is it warranted?

Federal government willing to assist financially troubled Laurentian University
Globe and Mail
The federal government says it is willing to provide funds to assist financially troubled Laurentian University and is in discussions with the Ontario government about how best to support French-language postsecondary education in the province.

Former Sen. Murray Sinclair appointed as Queen's University chancellor
Queen's University has selected longtime Indigenous rights advocate and former senator Murray Sinclair as its 15th chancellor.

Hungary's Orban extends dominance through university reform
Hungary's parliament passed legislation on Tuesday setting up foundations to take over the running of universities and cultural institutions in a move critics say extends the ideological imprint of the ruling right-wing government.

April 28, 2021

Province of Manitoba
The Manitoba government is setting up a Provincial Curriculum Advisory Panel that will provide input on the development of a framework for curriculum to advance education as part of the Better Education Starts Today (BEST) strategy, Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

Number of coronavirus variants of concern in Manitoba schools more than doubled in past week, data shows
The number of reported cases of novel coronavirus variants in Manitoba schools more than doubled in the past week, provincial data shows.

Applications to Ontario universities rise for fall 2021, preliminary figures show
Applications to Ontario universities, for fall 2021, have risen by tens of thousands over the previous one-year period, according to preliminary figures.

CAUT statement on National Day of Mourning
Today is the second day of remembrance for workers killed on the job since the pandemic began.  On average 1000 workers die every year on the job in Canada. Although we do not know the full extent of the tragedy yet, it is likely more lives have been claimed at work than ever before due to transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Day of Mourning 2021 – The Human Cost of COVID-19
Canadian Labour Congress
Canada’s unions are marking the National Day of Mourning by calling attention to the human cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘It’s like you’re forced to go to work.’ Three Ontario workers on what it’s like to not have paid sick days
Winnipeg Free Press
Anna Farrow watched Doug Ford’s tear-filled press conference last week during which he admitted making mistakes in the battle against COVID-19.

Western Canada: B.C. plans COVID-19 sick pay program, but offers few details
Globe and Mail
One of the clearest things health officials and public policy-makers learned at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic was that sick people were easily passing the virus to others in their workplaces. If the past year has been filled with unknowns, how to clamp down on that spread had a straightforward solution: Make sure sick workers can stay at home and get well without worrying about losing their pay.

COVID-19 news today: Trudeau says Ontario sick leave should be delivered directly through employers
Globe and Mail
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is in talks with Ontario as the province looks to provide paid sick days to workers, but stressed that such leave should be delivered directly through employers.

B.C. legwork positions it to capitalize on Ottawa's support on child care: Advocates
Winnipeg Free Press
British Columbia is well positioned for the widespread expansion of its goal of achieving child care for $10 a day thanks to federal commitments announced last week, a longtime advocate for the program says.

CSIS asks court to throw out employee’s claim of racial discrimination
Globe and Mail
Canada’s spy agency is asking a court to toss out the claim of an employee who alleges he endured racial discrimination and physical abuse from colleagues.

Ontario’s migrant farm workers at higher risk of COVID-19 and need better protections: report
Globe and Mail
Migrant farm workers who come to Ontario from other countries are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and other infectious diseases due to their communal living and working conditions, according to a coroner’s report released on Tuesday.

Strike Breaking Is A Labour Of Love For Federal Liberals
The approximately 1,150 dock workers at the Port of Montreal have been without a contract for more than two years. Their employer decided to increase their shift lengths, without any consultation, and so the unionized workers have gone on strike.

April 27, 2021

Province withholds detailed budget info in shrunken spending estimates
Winnipeg Free Press
BREAKING with decades of tradition, the Pallister government is withholding detailed budget information from the public — including estimated staffing and spending levels for critical areas of the province’s pandemic response.

Amazon doubles down on facilities in town
Winnipeg Free Press
Amazon is in the process of setting up another last-mile distribution centre in Winnipeg after announcing its first one in October.

Province issues guidance as more schools head online
Winnipeg Free Press
Although the province intends to keep schools open during the pandemic's third wave, several Manitoba schools have already decided to switch to remote learning because higher numbers of students and staff are isolating at home.

As COVID-19 cases climb, some question safety of keeping Manitoba schools open
With at least five Manitoba schools now shifted to remote learning due to COVID-19, some are questioning whether it's time to have all students in the province return to remote learning or risk more outbreaks.

Red River College students left outraged and scared over having to write in-person exams during pandemic
CTV News
Students at Red River College (RRC) are outraged and scared after being told they will have to write some of their exams in person, despite raising health concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.

ApplyInsights: U15 Institutions Losing International Student Market Share
International student interest in studying at Canadian universities has risen substantially over the past five years. In 2016, around 66,000 international students applied for study permits for Canadian undergraduate and graduate programs.1 By 2019, that number had risen to over 115,000, with more than 73,000 students applying just for undergraduate programs.

Graduate students at New York University go on strike
World Socialist Website
On Monday, 2,000 graduate students at New York University began a strike on the eve of the finals period. The students are organized under the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC), which is affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW). The graduate students are demanding higher wages and better health care and child care benefits. They also demand that the New York Police Department (NYPD) be removed from campus and that international and immigrant students receive better protection.

Why Open Source Matters More Than Ever in Education
ELearning Inside
For education to be successful in transforming our global community, it must be accessible – and that is what open-source technologies bring to the world of learning. By definition, open-source software has freely available code that can be redistributed and modified without limitation. Unlike closed-source software, which does not share its code and must be licensed, open-source software alleviates one of the most pressing barriers to education across the globe: cost.

Manitoba promises new income support program for people with severe disabilities
People living with severe and prolonged disabilities will have a new income support program devoted to them, the Manitoba government is promising.

Provincial governments should be wary of Liberals’ cost-shared child care pledge
Globe and Mail
If you’re a provincial premier, you should be wary of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s proposal for a shared-cost child care program. Because if past is precedent, your successors will end up footing the bill.

Ontario Conservatives vote down paid sick days
Canadian HR Reporter
Ontario’s Bill 247, which would have required employers to provide personal emergency leave to employees, has been voted down.

Quebec LTC staff kept working despite COVID-19 exposure, inquest hears
Globe and Mail
One of the first Quebec nursing homes hit by COVID-19 had to ask exposed staffers who didn’t show symptoms to keep working, otherwise the facility wouldn’t have been able to feed and care for its elderly residents, a coroner’s inquest heard on Monday.

Union representing energy workers backs stronger emissions cuts — as long as there's a transition plan
A union representing oil and gas workers says they don't object to Canada's latest emissions targets — in fact, they think the country could aim for even more ambitious ones. But only if there's a plan for a "just transition" that won't leave workers behind.

What Anti-Worker Businesses Don’t Want You To Know About the Value of Unions
Press Progress
Today, there is no shortage of attacks against working-class people exercising their rights to unionize and asserting their rights as union members.

Eight years on from factory collapse garment workers are again at risk, unions warn
The Telegraph
Unions are warning that garment workers in Bangladesh are again at risk after measures to improve safety  introduced in the wake of the deaths of more than 1,000 people in a factory building collapse are being watered down.

President Joe Biden continues to take an ax to former President Donald Trump’s labor policies, removing all 10 of his predecessor’s appointees to the Federal Service Impasses Panel.