For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 22, 2015

Halifax – Measures announced in yesterday’s Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act will infringe on the rights of students and workers and provide no new measures to prevent financial mismanagement at public universities in Nova Scotia.

“It’s no secret the Nova Scotia government is forwarding an agenda to restrict collective bargaining rights,” said Michaela Sam, Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia. “Instead of addressing the concerning lack of financial oversight at our public universities, the government is using this legislation to continue its vendetta against unionized workers.”

The Act gives university governing boards and the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education broad powers to enter into a so-called Revitalisation Period, where the rights of faculty and staff unions would be nullified. During a Revitalization Period unionized workers will not be able to file grievances regarding proposed changes to the institution or go on strike.

“This Act does nothing to improve accountability of university administrators, but seriously undermines the rights of students and workers,” said Sam. “Collective bargaining plays a pivotal role in protecting academic freedoms and quality education in Nova Scotia, and it should never be at risk.”

The Act also transfers decision-making powers away from internal governing structures where student representatives are present, to an advisory panel with no guaranteed student voice. Universities in a Revitalization Period would be required to present a report that makes recommendations that encourage more partnership with for-profit business and requires institutions to align their priorities with government’s.

Currently, there is no oversight or common financial reporting requirements for universities. In several cases, universities have made questionable financial decisions with no repercussions. For example, the senior administration of the University of King’s College purchased a $500,000 house without approval and in 2013-14, Dalhousie paid former president Tom Traves over $440,000 despite his term ending in June 2013.

“Students and workers are the whistle blowers for administrative malpractice at our universities,” said Sam. “This bill will muzzle internal criticism and give university administrators an easy way out if they jeopardize the fiscal health of their institutions through mismanagement.”

The Canadian Federation of Students, Canada’s national student movement, is comprised of nearly one-half million students from over 80 college and university students’ unions. Students in Canada have been represented by the Canadian Federation of Students and its predecessor organisations since 1927.

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For more information:

Michaela Sam, Chairperson – Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia: (902) 999-4318
David Etherington, Maritimes Organiser – Canadian Federation of Students: (902) 292-7991

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