Current News In BC PSE


Weekly News Roundup


Note from the Editor: The weekly newsletter will go on hiatus until September. We hope you get a well-deserved break over the summer months. See you in the fall!
Week of July 4 – July 8, 2022

Preparations for public service strike escalate as talks break down – BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU)

BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) prepares for strike action following discussion breakdown with the B.C. government via the Public Service Agency (PSA) over cost-of-living adjustments (COLA). 


Inflation, ‘adversarial culture’ in B.C. labour relations landscape could lead to job action

Observers are warning bargaining underway in the public and private sectors could get contentious with skyrocketing inflation, pandemic stressors and a history of clashes between employers and unions in British Columbia.



Alex Hemingway: Shortchanging public sector workers is bad for B.C.

Opinion: Wages in Canada have been falling behind inflation, and they have fallen particularly far behind for public sector workers, eroding their standard of living and undermining recruitment of teachers and health care workers, among many others.

BC | The Province


Third Omicron wave expected to grow rapidly in coming weeks, peak in August

The third Omicron wave has begun and is expected to increase rapidly and peak in August, says a COVID modelling expert. Data from public health labs across Canada tracking Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 show they will soon outgrow the initial Omicron subvariants in Canada, said Sally Otto, who is a member of the COVID-19 modelling group in B.C.

BC | Times Colonist


Metro Vancouver’s $21-billion transit plan, which includes a gondola to SFU, approved

A new gondola to Simon Fraser University, doubling the bus service, and hundreds of kilometres of new cycling paths are some of the transit plans approved by regional authorities on Thursday. SFU vice-president external relations Joanne Curry says they are hopeful this could be in place for 2027. The project is part of TransLink’s 10-year-plan, which also includes an estimated 170 kilometres of rapid transit in the region, including the Millennium Line UBC Extension.

BC | Vancouver Sun | CityNews | Daily Hive


Comment: UVic is a major part of Greater Victoria

University of Victoria president and vice-chancellor Dr. Kevin Hall talks about the broader impact of the university on Greater Victoria and in BC, saying: Strong partners make a big impact. That is a motto for us at the University of Victoria, and now the latest numbers have been tallied on UVic’s economic impact in Greater Victoria and B.C. With an independent report recently completed, we know that the combined activities of the region and our university provide $3.3 billion provincially, and $1.8 billion in added income to the Greater Victoria economy. One in nine jobs in our region is supported by UVic activities. For every dollar invested in UVic’s work, the B.C. public gains $2.70 in added tax revenue and public sector savings.

BC | Times Colonist


New appointments at KPU: Provost and Vice President Academic & Board Chair

Kwantlen Polytechnic University names Dr. Diane Purvey provost and vice president academic and welcomes Ivy Chen as new Board of Governors chair.

BC | KPU (1) | KPU (2)


Educational exchange between B.C., Mexico students expanded

A new partnership with Jalisco and Guanajuato state governments will give more British Columbian students opportunities to learn in Mexico. The Province is enhancing academic partnerships between Mexico and B.C. through the signing of two memoranda of understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, the Ministry of Education and Child Care, and Jalisco and Guanajuato.

BC | BC Gov News


Irish Minister of State Collins concludes visit to British Colombia

Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins concluded a visit to British Colombia during which he signed a Memorandum of Understanding between this department and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training of the Province of British Columbia, Canada on cooperation in higher education on institutional cooperation between Atlantic TU and Vancouver Community College, Atlantic TU and Douglas College and Munster TU and Camosum College, and acknowledged the valuable work of Enterprise Ireland in promoting Ireland’s strong reputation in education throughout the world.

BC | Government of Ireland


Selkirk College Statement Regarding Student Death in Motor Vehicle Accident

Eighteen Selkirk College students and staff members, primarily from the Explore Program, were on a BC Transit bus that was involved in a motor vehicle accident. One student suffered serious injury in the crash and was transferred to Kelowna hospital on the evening of June 30. Sadly, the student has since passed away. Premier John Horgan issued a statement about a bus accident that claimed a student’s life and injured others, saying, “I was deeply saddened to learn of a serious bus accident involving students from Quebec attending an English-language program at Selkirk College in Castlegar. Sadly, one young life was lost and many others were left with injuries. My thoughts are with these students, their loved ones and the Selkirk College community at this difficult time.”  

BC | Selkirk College | BC Gov News


SFSS to appoint new committee members

At the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) council meeting on June 8, committee elections were held for 28 vacant committee seats. Council members nominated themselves or a fellow council member for each committee. According to the SFSS, Board committees exist to “help assist the Board of Directors at SFSS do their job.” This includes preparing policy alternatives, among other initiatives. The SFSS currently has 14 committees, such as the university and academic affairs committee, the events committee, and the HR and personnel committee. Four seats were available in each election. The BIPOC committee and the accessibility committee were among those seeking nominations

BC | The Peak


Demystifying Academic Freedom

Join Dr. Marc Spooner (University of Regina) and Stephen Hurley (voicEd Radio Canada) for an in-depth exploration of Academic Freedom on Canada’s post-secondary landscape. Insightful guests and powerful case studies highlighting current tensions, new opportunities and ongoing challenges in protecting this important dimension of Canada’s colleges and universities.

National | Voiced


My Narrow Academia

Alberta is at the forefront of a number of provinces radically changing how they fund postsecondary education. The bottom line is austerity, but the sales pitch is jobs. Through “performance-based funding,” governments incentivize the programs they think will lead to the greatest “return on investment” and discourage universities and colleges from offering those that don’t. Guess into which camp the humanities fall. On this week’s CANADALAND, Edmonton-based reporter Oumar Salifu looks at the implications for students, and host Jesse Brown puts questions to Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides.

National & AB | CANADALAND (podcast) | CANADALAND (article)


How Commonwealth universities profited from Indigenous dispossession through land grants

Public universities received substantial tracts of expropriated Indigenous territory from their governments that could be leased or sold to generate endowment capital. Across British North America, later Canada, three universities collectively received at least 500,000 acres permanently and over two million acres temporarily. Records held by the University of Toronto show that, in 1798, the Provincial Legislature of Upper Canada set aside 549,000 acres of land — an area three times larger than the present-day Toronto — for the “maintenance of various educational establishments, including a University.” About 225,000 acres eventually went to University of Toronto’s predecessor, King’s College, in 1828.

International | The Conversation


Contracting out ancillary services shifts costs from universities to communities, report says

CUPE, which represents some 700,000 workers across the country, recently released a report on the costs of contracting out food and custodial services. It shows that shifting to private companies for these services results in lower wages for workers, less union representation and reduced access to pensions, sick leave and other benefits. This shifts costs onto communities, particularly to people who are already vulnerable and marginalized, the report says, noting that workers in food and custodial services are more likely to be women, Black or racialized, or newcomers to Canada. A Statistics Canada study released in August 2021 estimated that the pandemic may have cost Canadian universities between $438 million and $2.5 billion of projected revenues in 2020/2021. It noted that while provincial funding has been the main source of revenue for Canadian universities, it has declined as a percent of total revenue over the last two decades. The result has been an increased reliance on tuition and ancillary services revenue, which have been particularly vulnerable over the least two years.

National | University Affairs | Report


New Resource Available: Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimation Guidance

Canadian post-secondary institutions are contributors to climate change due to their large geographic, economic and environmental footprint, and also face a number of emerging environmental risks. As such, institutions have a significant role to play in mitigating the impacts of climate change and enabling the transition to a low carbon economy through their institutional operating practices, community engagement and research and education that take place on their campuses, all while striving to manage and adapt to the climate risks on their institutions. CAUBO initiated a Climate Change Mitigation Strategies project to support members’ efforts to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The project includes four components, and the fourth resource is now available for members to access.

National | CAUBO


Up Close and Personal: Interviews with the 2022 Distinguished Academics  Dr. Sean Maurice

The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA BC) is pleased to release a series of interviews profiling the winners of the 2022 Distinguished Academics Awards: Dr. Travis Salway (SFU), Dr. Sarah Wright Cardinal (UVic), and Dr. Colin Bennett (UVic). The awards recognize and honour faculty at BC public research universities who have made outstanding contributions to the community beyond the academy through their scholarship and public policy contributions. The awards bring with it the admiration of colleagues from across institutions, disciplines, geographic borders and beyond, and is recognized with a commemorative plaque and cash award.


Watch the interviews here