On September 14, 2016, the Government of Canada announced that it was re-activating the University and College Academic Staff Survey (UCASS). This Statistics Canada program is a vital source of information on professors across the country.
UCASS was cancelled in 2012, as a result of federal budget cuts. This cancellation deprived policymakers from useful data on university and college faculty, and removed information used by many faculty associations in contract negotiations. Faculty across Canada therefore welcome the return of this important survey.
In its announcement, the Government of Canada emphasized the importance of UCASS in building diversity among Canada’s academic staff. Said Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan:
“The survey’s reinstatement is a crucial step toward understanding Canada’s community of university researchers and faculty. Once we understand the face and composition of Canada’s research community, then our government can begin the real work of collaborating with universities to help them recruit faculty that reflect Canada’s diversity. Diversity, after all, is the source of our nation’s strength.”
OCUFA is particularly pleased that Statistics Canada plans to enter into consultations with universities to include data on contract, or sessional faculty, in UCASS. Right now, the lack of comparable, system-level data on contract faculty prevents us from knowing exactly how many sessionals are working in Canada’s universities, how they are paid, and how their terms and conditions of work are structured. We know there has been a huge increase in the number of contract faculty, but we don’t know exactly how many, who they are, and how they work. The UCASS consultations are an opportunity to close this data gap.
Quoted in the Globe and Mail, OCUFA President Judy Bates said, “We need to understand who these contract faculty are.”
OCUFA will be monitoring the roll out of the revived UCASS survey, and will report on the latest developments and the progress of the contract faculty consultations.