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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 2008

CAUT Claims CRC Breached Equity Accord

The Canada Research Chairs program has breached the terms of a mediated settlement that was sup­posed to address the underrepresentation of equity-seeking groups in chair appointments.

Eight academics from universities across Canada — with CAUT playing a role in lending assistance — filed complaints with the federal human rights commission in 2004, alleging discrimination in the chair nomination process, access to the process and in the appointment process and results.

The settlement reached in 2006 required the chairs program to develop a methodology to address allocation inequities. The complainants also hoped their efforts would help highlight discrimination in the structure of other granting programs.

As part of the settlement, the CRC program hired a consulting firm to develop a forward-looking methodology with accompanying targets.

“It was crucial that this firm have employment equity and human rights expertise and experience,” said Penni Stewart, president of CAUT. “Instead, the CRC hired a firm that appears to lack that expertise and did so without any meaningful consultation with the complainants.”

The firm developed a methodology in November 2007, about which the complainants raised significant concerns. The CRC ignor­­ed the objections and announced last month that the methodology had been “finalized” and sent to universities.

“So now we have a flawed methodology in place that will perpetuate rather than begin to address the systemic discrimination in the program and that is clearly contrary to the intentions of the settlement,” Stewart said.

“Worse still, the CRC is saying the complainants were duly consulted. They never were.”

CAUT has made a formal complaint to Industry Canada and the CRC program, claiming they breached the agreement and pressing for change. Meanwhile, the association has retained experts to provide a detailed critique of the program’s methodology and propose an alternative.

“We’ll also be reaching out to universities with chair appointments to urge them to work with local academic staff associations to find ways to address discrimination in the CRC process and will support local associations that want to take up the issue with employers,” Stewart said.

Related Article: CAUT Bulletin April 2008 “CRC Program Slow to Implement Settlement to End Discrimination.”