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CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 2002

FNBFA Decries Introduction of Bill 28

By now, you will have been inundated with letters decrying the introduction of Bill 28. I will not, therefore, waste the valuable time of either of us by saying the same old things in a new way.

Instead, I wish to endorse and perhaps add to the comments of my colleague James L. Turk, executive director of CAUT, in his fax to you on this subject on Jan. 30. The following passage in Jim Turk's correspondence is, I feel, particularly worthy of a second look:

"... Bill 28, if acted upon by presidents and boards, will also cripple the ability of BC's colleges, university colleges, and institutes to attract new faculty and retain many of their existing faculty. As the baby boom generation approaches retirement age in the coming few years, there will be intense competition across Canada and North America to find faculty to replace colleagues who have retired. Institutions that disrespect negotiated contracts and allow faculty members' educational judgment to be overridden by managers will find it very difficult to compete (for replacements) in the job market."

"Greater Opportunity: New Brunswick's Prosperity Plan" is a 10-year economic plan for New Brunswick which was introduced by Premier Bernard Lord (last) month. Under the heading "Investing in People" appears the following passage: "It is predicted that in less than five years, more than 80% of all new jobs created worldwide will require at least two years of post-secondary education or training. New Brunswick has already experienced this trend. From 1992 to 1999, net employment grew by 43,300 for workers with some post-secondary education, but declined by 14,800 for those with high school or less."

The foregoing statement reflects almost exactly the findings of an in-depth study of the correlation of education level and employability, "At The Doorstep of The 21st Century," which was published in 1997 by Human Resources Development Canada, New Brunswick branch. It must be emphasized that these are worldwide statistics. They do not apply only in New Brunswick.

What your government hopes to realize through the introduction of Bill 28 is immediate cost reductions for your province's taxpayers, and this is laudable. I respectfully submit, though, that it is not in the best economic interests of any province in Canada to put itself in a position where, while four-fifths of its population experience imminent demand for higher levels of education to be employable, at the same time it is discouraging faculty from remaining there, or from coming there to work, by reneging on its collective agreements with them.

There is an old saying that a politician thinks of the next election, while a statesman thinks of the next generation. However, since the demand for at least two years' post-secondary education or training in 80% of all new jobs created worldwide is going to occur in the next five years, whether the abandonment of Bill 28 would be an act of short-term expediency or of high-minded altruism is moot. It simply needs to be done.

Claude Dionne
President, Federation of New Brunswick Faculty Associations