Reinstatement of Statistics Canada UCASS Survey

Speech

Speaking Points

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, PC, MP
Minister of Science

London, Ontario

September 15, 2016

Check Against Delivery


Good morning.

I'd like to thank my colleague Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre, for his kind words of introduction and for all the hard work he does on behalf of the good people in this riding. Thank you, Peter.

May I also offer a warm greeting to Dr. Amit Chakma, the distinguished president of this incredible university.

It is a pleasure to be here at Western today.

Your researchers have worked so hard these past few years to bridge the data gap.

On behalf of our government, allow me to express my sincere and tremendous thanks for your efforts.

When Prime Minister Trudeau invited me to join his Cabinet as the minister of Science, I was honoured and humbled.

I was honoured because science was my chosen career. It was a path that eventually led me to politics, where I now proudly serve in the country's first gender-balanced Cabinet.

I was humbled because one of my most important jobs as science minister is to ensure that science and evidence inform our policy-making as a government.

To that end, our first action was to announce the return of the long-form census.

It was the right thing to do for a government that believes in data and evidence-based policy.

It was also the right thing to do according to Canadians—a whopping 98.4 percent of Canadians responded to the census!

It's pretty clear to me that Canadians love their data!

Our government then took action to ensure scientists were free to speak about their work and share their results.

As many of you know, I have also been tasked with creating a chief science officer position to ensure that:

  • government science is made available to Canadians;
  • government scientists continue to be free to speak about their work; and
  • scientific evidence informs decision making at the federal table.

I have also launched an independent panel of nine distinguished research leaders and innovators to conduct a comprehensive review of federal support for fundamental science.

Following a series of public consultations, the panel will recommend ways to make our government's support for science more strategic and effective and ensure that the needs of our scientists are placed first.

Since its launch, the panel has received more than 300 submissions.

I encourage all of you to visit sciencereview.ca before September 30 to share your thoughts on what we can do to help our scientists continue to succeed.

Today's announcement represents another meaningful next step our government is taking toward establishing evidence-based policy-making in Canada while encouraging diversity and inclusiveness.

I'm delighted to announce that, beginning today, Statistics Canada will reinstate the full-time University and College Academic Staff System survey.

UCASS is back!

The survey began in 1937 and continued, uninterrupted, until 2011.

That's when funding cuts to Statistics Canada forced them to cancel UCASS along with other surveys.

By bringing this survey back, our government is demonstrating that we are committed to rebuilding the pool of data we need to form sound policy.

Every year, we will be tallying new data and releasing up-to-date snapshots of Canadian university researchers and educators.

What's more, we are not only reinstating the UCASS but we are also looking at expanding it.

We are exploring ways to implement some redesigns to make the sample more inclusive, because we think that colleges should be part of the picture. And in this day and age, it seems pretty clear that part-time faculty should be included too.

This is an excellent day for Canadian universities and colleges as well as for educators and talented researchers.

As a government, we recognize the need for good quality data to drive future policy concerning university researchers and faculty.

The data is a first step to gauging diversity in our research community.

I cannot emphasize this enough: in all of our efforts as a government, you will see a respect for diversity and inclusivity.

We believe that diversity is a strength, not a weakness. We want all Canadians to share equally in the growth and success of our great nation.

So it follows that we, as a government, must encourage diversity at all levels—from Cabinet to campus.

Once again, I want to take a moment to properly acknowledge our hosts today. By continuing to collect this important information, they have demonstrated their commitment to the survey.

For the past five years, Western University teamed up with Simon Fraser University as the National Faculty Data Pool consortium to carry out this survey on a cost-recovery basis.

This initiative collected nearly all the same information, albeit with a smaller sample size.

I'm here today to tell you that you don't need to do this alone anymore. We are pleased to be working with you.

Thank you all so much.

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