The Decent Work and Health Network (DWHN)

October 26, 2017 10:30 ET

Decent Work and Health Network supports contract faculty during Fair Employment Week

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 26, 2017) - October 23 to 27 is the Canadian Association of University Teachers' (CAUT) Fair Employment Week, held annually to promote public awareness and action on universities' increasing reliance on non-tenure-track contract faculty. Contract faculty are employed on discontinuous contracts from semester to semester with little to no job stability even after years-sometimes even decades-of employment.

The Decent Work and Health Network (DWHN) is an advocacy group of health providers in Ontario. Members of the network are concerned about the health impacts of precarious work. According to the 2015 report The Precarity Penalty by the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario (PEPSO) research group, 43.6% of workers in the GTA and Hamilton are in some form of precarious work, which has become standard in every industry.

"It's shocking that so many university faculty work with no job security, unable to plan their lives beyond the next semester, and for much lower pay than their permanently-hired counterparts," said Dr. Kelly Holloway, a medical sociology researcher and a member of DWHN.

Precariously-employed workers report higher rates of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, and contract faculty often lack benefits and paid leave, which help workers access ongoing and preventive care. And the problem only seems to be growing. The number of contract faculty has grown 200% in Canada since 1999, and CAUT estimates that of the approximately 75,000 faculty in Canada, one-third are on contract.

The rise in contract faculty positions follows trends in other parts of the university, where cleaning and food service jobs are low-paid and precarious. Together with labour and workers' rights advocates, members of DWHN call on universities to show leadership in providing decent work through fair pay and job security for all faculty and staff.

"Universities have a role to play in reversing the trend towards precarious work that is threatening the health of workers and the integrity of our institutions," said Dr. Andrew Pinto, a family physician, researcher and member of DWHN. "Contract faculty who reapply for their jobs semester after semester deserve to be converted to regular faculty and provided with fair compensation and benefits. This is a matter of equity and a matter of health."

About the Decent Work and Health Network

The Decent Work and Health Network (DWHN) supports research and policy change that address working and employment conditions to ensure the health and wellbeing of all Ontarians.

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