YUFA Response to proposed Nova Scotia Bill

Many of you have heard about the proposed "Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act" (Bill 100) that was introduced last week in the Nova Scotia legislature. If passed, the Act would allow governments unprecedented rights to demand restructuring at universities, override collective agreement provisions and undermine academic freedom.

Following many other universities and academics across Canada, the YUFA Executive authorized me to send the following letter of opposition to the Nova Scotia government:

The Honourable Kelly Regan
Minister of Labour and Advanced Education
6th Floor, 5151 Terminal Rd
P.O. Box 697
Halifax, NS B3J 2T8

April 27, 2015

Dear Minister Regan,

The York University Faculty Association joins with the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers in strong opposition to the proposed Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act currently before the Nova Scotia Legislature. It is our considered opinion that the Act threatens not only the constitutional rights of university faculty in Nova Scotia, including the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike, but the entire academic enterprise.

We are deeply shocked by the relationship between business and the academy that is invited by Paragraph 12.1.g-h: that a university’s plan must include “goals and objectives for … turning research into business opportunities [and] fostering a skilled, entrepreneurial and innovative workforce needed for economic growth in the Province”. Such a relationship is inimical to academic freedom and undermines the essential mandate of the university, which is independent learning and teaching. In addition, the strong government involvement in setting academic and research priorities and curriculum runs contrary to the conditions under which high quality scientific and scholarly work can thrive, and makes it unlikely that the province will continue to attract and recruit the best academics.

If this bill were to pass, Nova Scotia universities would lose in a single moment their proud tradition of excellent teaching grounded in internationally renowned independent scholarship. Their research would be known to be driven by the demands of government and the business community, and would no longer be trusted. Graduating students would no longer be regarded as educated so much as trained into the service of the economy. The loss to the reputation of your scholars and graduates would be dire.

We urge you, most strongly, to withdraw the bill.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Wellen, President
York University Faculty Association