CAUT has registered strong objection to proposals to dismantle the federal government's policy that gives Canadians and permanent residents first consideration for academic jobs at Canadian post-secondary institutions.
CAUT president Tom Booth and executive director Jim Turk met last month with Human Resources Development Canada Minister Jane Stewart to reiterate CAUT's commitment to such a policy.
Booth said appointments should continue to be offered to the best qualified Canadian or permanent resident who meets the stated requirements. Only if no Canadian or permanent resident meets the stated job requirements should non-Canadian applicants be considered.
The most controversial part of the present federal policy is a requirement that there be sequential advertising. The job must be advertised first in Canadian media. Only after a thorough and unsuccessful search for Canadian candidates can a university be authorized to advertise the position internationally.
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has argued that there must be simultaneous advertising to avoid unacceptable delays to the hiring process.
CAUT has agreed to support simultaneous advertising provided four conditions are met.
All positions are to be extensively advertised in Canada. Canadian candidates and permanent residents must be considered first and appointments should be offered to the best qualified Canadian or permanent resident who meets the stated requirements of the position.
In the event no Canadian or permanent resident meets the stated requirements, non-Canadians may be considered provided the department/faculty receives the prior approval of a university-wide review committee.
Universities must establish university-wide appointments review committees, elected by the university's senior academic body, with a majority of the positions filled by faculty members. The committees must be advised of any decision that there are no suitable Canadian/permanent resident candidates for a position, review the facts, and rule on the matter. The committee would also advise the president on all appointments and would report annually to the senior academic body on each appointment, including whether the advertising requirements were met and indicating the nationality of each successful candidate as well as the number of applications for each position in categories of Canadians and permanent residents and non-Canadians.
"CAUT's willingness to accede to the elimination of the sequential advertising component of two-tier recruitment is a significant compromise," said Booth. "Without the sanction of sequential advertising, there has to be an effective mechanism to assure Canadians and permanent residents are considered first and that appointments are offered to the best qualified Canadian or permanent resident who meets the stated requirements.
"If no Canadian or permanent resident is deemed qualified, that determination must be subject to review prior to turning to non-Canadians and non-permanent residents. We have proposed an option that eliminates the sometimes substantial delays that can occur with sequential advertising but keeps the decision an internal one to the university -- preserving university autonomy."
AUCC has opposed CAUT's compromise proposal claiming that a university review committee would be inconsistent with the objectives of efficiency and timeliness and could be seen as undue federal interference with internal university governance.
Instead, AUCC has proposed "case-by-case reporting to the local HRDC office when employment validation is sought, with this reporting to include an indication of all publications in which the position was advertised and of the content of the ads; the number of Canadian and foreign applications received and interviewed; the number of Canadian and foreign candidates offered the position; the citizenship of the candidate who ultimately accepted the position; and where a foreign candidate has been offered the position, an indication as to the reasons why the foreign candidate was preferred over the top Canadian candidates."
AUCC also propose that each institution's administration would table an annual public report, "indicating the number of positions filled during the year, the number of successful Canadian candidates and the number of successful foreign candidates."
"I am perplexed by AUCC's preference for external regulation instead of an internal review process by a collegial body," Booth said.
CAUT is continuing its discussion with federal officials. A decision on the government's policy direction is expected within the next few months.