Report on Contract Faculty at Canadian Universities

A new report on precarious contract faculty in Canada from CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) National and CCPA (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) has just been released.

Among the findings: 

  • 54% of faculty appointments in Canada are precarious contractors.
  • Increased use of precarious contract faculty is NOT a response to a changing job market, NOT primarily a matter of personal choice by contract instructors, NOT a situation where a majority of precarious contract instructors have other high-paying jobs, and NOT just a problem created by decreased government funding.
  • The report makes reference to the stresses caused by precarity, including faculty mental health, inability to get housing mortgages, and—while insisting that contract are excellent teachers—lower quality classroom experience for students.
  • The situation is a structural, ongoing problem resulting mainly from choices made by university administrators.
  • The report challenges the administration (and sometimes the faculty association) excuse that most contract instructors are underqualified: “You can’t simultaneously insist that more than half of faculty are underqualified while continuing to assure students, parents and governments that universities offer a high-quality education.”
  • The report posits 3 possible solutions: adequate sustained public funding, greater transparency about hiring, and a commitment to improved labour standards.

This report also places MacEwan among the 13 Canadian universities with the highest proportions of contract faculty, at 67.4%.