The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed long-standing issues within Canada’s post-secondary education system, but it also offers an opportunity to remake the system with an emphasis on quality, affordability, and accessibility. That’s why CUPE is launching the Education for All campaign, together with our partners in a coalition of labour unions and student organizations representing over one million people.
“CUPE’s 75,000 post-secondary education workers know that every job on campus is essential in delivering the highest quality education, from academic staff to food services to clerical staff and building operators,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “We’ve seen the impact that privatization and cost-cutting has had on the quality of education and the health and safety of students and workers. That’s why we’re proud to support a vision of Education for All that values high quality, publicly funded post-secondary education.”
Today, the Education for All campaign released a comprehensive report which highlighted many of the challenges within the sector:
- Public funding now represents less than half of total revenue for universities while the proportion of college expenditures covered by public funding is also dropping.
- As public funding has decreased, tuition has skyrocketed, along with student debt.
- Universities and colleges are increasingly relying on precarious contract positions, privatization and contracting out of workers.
- These workers generally have lower wages, no paid sick days, few benefits, and no pensions.
- Students and workers who are Indigenous, Black, racialized, female, LGBTQ, gender non-conforming or living with a disability are more likely to be excluded from the system or marginalized within it.
The Education for All campaign is calling on federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together on a national plan for education that is publicly funded, accessible, and high quality. Recommendations include:
- Boosting federal funding for post-secondary education by a minimum of $3 billion and ensuring that funding keeps up with inflation and enrolment growth.
- Eliminating interest rates on student loan repayments and reducing and eventually eliminating tuition fees.
- Placing limits on the sector’s use of precarious job contracts, contracting out and privatization.
- Investing in Indigenous education.
The Education for All campaign is a joint initiative of CUPE, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, and the National Union of Public and General Employees. The Education for All campaign report can be found at www.educationforall.ca.