Minister: Survey’s reinstatement ‘a crucial step’

Paul Mayne // Western News

Canadian Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan, left, speaks with University Students’ Council (USC) Vice-President Jamie Cleary following her announcement of the return of the University and College Academic Staff System survey through Statistics Canada.

Canadian Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan said those who drive innovation through knowledge and ideas, in particular university professors and researchers, are among Canada’s greatest assets and the reason for the return of a Statistics Canada survey to support the government’s diversity and inclusion goals.

Duncan was at Western last week to announce the return of the University and College Academic Staff System (UCASS) survey, which ran 1937-2012 before being shelved due to budget constraints.

“The survey’s reinstatement is a crucial step toward understanding Canada’s community of university researchers and faculty,” Duncan said. “Once we understand the face and composition of Canada’s research community, then our government can begin the real work of collaborating with universities to help them recruit faculty that reflect Canada’s diversity.”

Reinstating the survey and collecting data – which will include age, gender, salary, courses taught and other information – is necessary to drive future policy directions concerning university researchers and faculty, Duncan added. With work already under way, Statistics Canada will begin publishing results from the reinstated UCASS survey in April 2017. In an attempt to bridge the gap in data, Statistics Canada will also work with academic institutions to gather pertinent data from the years since 2012.

In the five years the UCASS survey was dormant, Western, along with 65 others institutions, continued to collect data they deemed important. James MacLean, of Western’s Institutional Planning and Budgeting, said while it was something that couldn’t be mandated, the data was needed for things such as faculty bargaining purposes, and terms of tracking demographics for gender hires or the age of faculty.

“When Statistics Canada abandoned this project, we knew this was needed across the country, that it was worthwhile and critical and was something universities wanted to maintain. In Ontario, we didn’t miss a beat, but others did,” MacLean said. “It’s great that Statistics Canada is back to it and it’s an opportunity to move forward and obtain other data that may compliment what we are already providing. We had approximately 85-90 per cent coverage, so this will make it 100 per cent.”