Universities have persuaded the federal government to relax new rules on how they hire temporary foreign workers An agreement was struck earlier this week between postsecondary institutions and the federal government which will give schools flexibility with regards to meeting the new rules that were imposed on employers looking to hire high-wage workers in June 2014.
Schools will no longer have to submit a plan on how they will transition jobs filled by highly paid foreign workers to Canadian citizens. Instead, universities and colleges will report to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), their national organization.
Universities are the only sector that will be allowed to be self-governing in meeting some of the requirements of the temporary foreign worker program. In most cases, universities receiving TFW permits to hire foreign academics are actually planning to employ them in permanent jobs, with the TFW program simply being a faster way to bring professors or researchers to Canada.
According to Christine Tausig Ford, vice-president and COO of the AUCC, “Academic specialties can be very specific and the flexibility of being able to hire from around the world is important, as are the global connections that academics make.”
The changes to the temporary foreign worker program introduced in June primarily affected low-wage labour, but the government also added regulations for those jobs that pay the same as or higher than the median provincial wage.
Employers offering those positions must now have a transition plan in place if they hope to receive a positive labour market impact assessment. The agreement between the AUCC and the government means that universities and colleges can choose not to file that transition plan with the federal government but will still be required to submit information about any Canadians who applied for the positions.
New rules relating to immigration to Quebec are hindering universities in their efforts to hire highly-qualified international professors. Most notably, the French language requirement is posing a serious obstacle in attracting foreign talent, as many otherwise talented candidates do not meet this condition.
Quebec’s complicated points-based immigrant entry system puts the province’s universities at a disadvantage compared to other Canadian and American universities, say academics from Quebec’s English-language universities.
The French language requirement for permanent residency in Quebec was raised in 2013. Ghyslaine McClure, associate provost at McGill, says that her university is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit good professors for research chairs as candidates who are above 40 years of age are not very keen on taking French classes in addition to their research work duties.
In addition, the immigration process requires a lot of paperwork before a candidate can move to Quebec. “We would like a special recognition that university professors are highly specialized workers and they should not have that many obstacles. Professors and other eminent specialists are a different ball game,” says McClure.
There is some respite for professors with PhDs, however. The government modified the rules in December to award “points” to candidates holding PhDs, which might allow them to skip the French requirement.
Concordia University’s journalism professor Stanton Paddock is happy with this respite. Paddock says he panicked upon learning that he needed to learn a lot of French in order to move to Quebec back in 2013, but now he believes his PhD may help him bypass the requirement. For many professors, obtaining permanent residency is very important as several universities and institutions do not grant full tenure without it.
For candidates fluent in French, the new rules are not much of a hindrance. “Learning French was part of the reason I was excited to move here. I enjoy the language (but) I can imagine for people who don’t have that background it would be onerous,” says Emer O’Toole, a professor at Concordia’s School of Canadian Irish Studies, who had studied French before coming to Quebec.
O’Toole says that the French requirement has been made necessary because Quebec wants to protect the importance of its language. “It’s very likely (without the protections) French would lose its hold and stop being the primary language in Montreal,” she said.
Quebec’s Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil has said that she would be hearing recommendations to improve the province’s immigration system. She said that the government wanted to assimilate immigrants into a French-speaking workforce, but understood that the French language requirements were hurting many business groups. “Employer groups have raised the issue about language requirements, should we relax
them or not. The overall opinion (of the government) is that we need to be very careful and it’s important to have people speak French,” she said.
With university costs projected to increase over the next four years, students are being hit with newly created or rising fees on top of tuition, including those to use facilities and even to graduate, according to a new report.
These fees — such as athletic fees and student association fees — amounted to $817 on average last year, with Alberta having the highest ($1,025) and Newfoundland the lowest ($222), says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
In Ontario, for example, if you want to graduate, you may have to pay a fee to make sure your degree is conferred. If you want to pay your tuition fee per term versus paying the full-year in one lump sum, you’ll be charged a deferral fee. If you only take three courses in a term, you might still have to pay for a full-course load or five courses through a flat fee. The Canadian Federal of Students in Ontario has successfully lobbied to have some of these ancillary fees phased out.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that annual fees at Canadian universities are projected to rise 13% on average to $7,755 in 2017 to 2018, having at least tripled since 1990 to 1991. This rise is partly fuelled by these compulsory fees levied on top of tuition which are not often subject to restrictions.
The report says that provincial funding for universities is inadequate. In 2010, the University of Calgary introduced a $450 student services fee, replacing fees for student transcripts, fees for counseling through University Health Services and registration and thesis fees for graduate students.
Saint Mary’s University charges a student taking 10 half-credit courses: a campus renewal fee of $340, a recreation facilities fee of $50 and a copyright fee of $30. Dalhousie University levies an $81.90 facilities renewal fee and a $72.93 student union fee to full-time students. The University of Toronto charges a $110 application fee to music students applying to graduate studies and a $75 audition fee for performing students.
It makes it very difficult for students to predict how much they’ll have to pay in the coming year, Ms. McCormick says.
“Our parents used to be able to work over the summer and cover the costs of school the following year,” she says. “Now we can work over the summer and not even come close to saving up enough and continue to work throughout the year, not only to cover the cost of post-secondary education but the cost of living.”
Students are also expected to pay “vastly different” tuition based on where they live and where they want to study, which undermines the universality of post-secondary education, Ms. Shaker says.
Some provinces — such as Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island Saskatchewan and Ontario — have a two-tier fee structure, providing more financial breaks to in-province students than those from outside the province, she said.
“Some of our mindsets are changing towards whose responsibility is it to ensure that post-secondary education is accessible and affordable to families and who benefits from it,” Ms. Shaker says. “Certainly there is individual benefit but there is a huge society benefit as well. When we start moving away from public financing and more towards individualized financing, it obscures that.”
Source: Financial Post
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
The university tuition fees to study in Canada are still much lower than comparables in the USA and elsewhere. Canada continues to be a major attraction for foreign students intending to study in Canada and obtain a high quality education at below market fees.