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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 2006

Settlement Reached in CRC Complaint

CAUT welcomed last month’s settlement of a discrimination complaint brought more than three years ago against a federal government research program.

CAUT president Greg Allain said the settlement agreement, a blueprint for reform of the Canada Research Chairs Program, is “an important step toward redressing some very serious inequities in the academic research community.”

In a 2003 complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, eight female professors alleged that the design of the CRC program discriminated against equity-seeking groups.

Allain described the agreement as “breaking important new ground” by directing the program to undergo gender and diversity-based analyses. He also noted universities will have to establish targets for the representation of women, visible minorities, persons with a disability and aboriginal people and ensure recruitment processes for chairs is “transparent, open and equitable.”

A survey of chair holders conducted by CAUT in 2005 found that only 20 per cent of the chairs at that time had been awarded to women. The survey also reported that just over nine per cent of chairs were visible minorities, while less than two per cent identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered and only one per cent indicated they had a disability. Only 0.2 per cent were aboriginal Canadians.

“Thanks to the courageous efforts of the eight women involved, there are some very important advances made in the settlement that will benefit the entire academic community,” Allain said. “But it’s unfortunate that it took a formal human rights complaint to get the government to agree to processes that should have been part of the program in the first place. At least, as a result of this settlement, we can expect future federal programs to take equity more seriously.”

The CRC program was created in 2000 with a budget of $900 million over five years to support 2,000 research chairs at universities across the country.