Short term gigs the new norm at universities
Study of 78 publicly funded Canadian universities shows Canada’s ‘two-tiered system’ “I’VE COME ACROSS THIS CONCEPT IN SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ABOUT ‘HOPE LABOUR.’”
VANCOUVER—DENEIGE Nadeau loves teaching critical and cultural theory at Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art + Design — but she doesn’t know how much longer she’ll be able to afford it.
She’s part of the two-thirds majority of instructors there who are on short-term contracts, getting paid per course with no guarantee they’ll be able to work again next year. Having been offered only one course to teach each term this year, Nadeau also serves beer to make ends meet.
“I’ve come across this concept in social science research about ‘hope labour’ and all the work that somebody does in the hopes that it will lead to something in the future,” Nadeau said in an interview with the Star last month.
A report reveals new details about how many university instructors in Canada may be in the same situation — data that until now has been a blind spot for researchers and advocates due to the fact that it’s not reported by Statistics Canada.
The report entitled Contract U comes from the Canadian Deneige Nadeau Centre for Policy Alternatives, based on Freedom-ofinformation requests with all 78 publicly funded Canadian universities. It shows that more than half of all academic appointments made by the universities that responded to the requests weren’t fulltime, permanent, tenuretrack jobs but temporary contracts.
A total of 53.6 per cent of gigs offered by universities in the 2016-17 academic year were on contract. About 80 per cent of them were parttime.
Chandra Pasma, a post-secondary researcher at the Canadian Union of Public Employees who co-authored the report, said precarious employment has long been a top priority of the union.