Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers invited more than 300 stakeholders to a national summit on post-secondary education and skills in Ottawa last month. The summit, called Competing for Tomorrow, was organized by the Council of the Federation of Canada and hosted by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Quebec Premier Jean Charest.
McGuinty and Charest described the meeting as an opportunity for higher education leaders, including student, college, university, business and labour representatives, to bring their “experience and leadership to the development of a path forward in post-secondary education and training.”
Most of the Feb. 24 summit meeting was spent in small discussion groups that considered issues of access, financing, research capacity, labour force participation, skills training and the needs of rural and northern areas. The summit opened with a keynote address by Rajesh Subramaniam, president of FedEx Canada.
CAUT executive director James Turk said the Ottawa meeting was an important event because it gave participants an opportunity to work together to improve the situation.
“The good news is the premiers spoke with one voice about post-secondary education being a top priority for their governments and about the necessity of it being a top priority for the federal government,” Turk said after the meeting.
He said summit participants’ discussion groups brought forward a number of recommendations on developing a pan-Canadian strategy for post-secondary education. The most widely supported was a demand that the federal government introduce a dedicated transfer for post-secondary education and increase the amount of its cash transfer by $4.9 billion.
Representatives of provincial academic staff associations included Rick Hudson, president of the Federation of New Brunswick Faculty Associations and executive director Desmond Morley; Fédération Québecoise des Professeures et Professeurs d’Université president Cécile Sabourin and vice-president Pierre Lebuis; Michael Doucet, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations; Paddy Musson, chair of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union — College Academic Division; Robert Chernomas, president of the Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations; Peter McCormick, vice-president of the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations; Norma Weiland, president of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia and Cindy Oliver, president of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of B.C.