Dear colleagues,  

On May 13, AASUA and other academic staff associations met with Advanced Education Minister Rajan Sawhney in person at the legislature to discuss our concerns with the proposed Bill 18.  

The other academic staff associations in attendance included the University of Calgary Faculty Association, the Grant MacEwan University Faculty Association, Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association, and Mount Royal University Faculty Association.  


The Alberta academic staff representatives stand with Minister Swahney.
Also in attendance from AASUA were Vice-President Kristine Smitka (third right)
and Executive Director & Legal Counsel Brygeda Renke (second right).


In its present form, Bill 18 — or the “Provincial Priorities Act” — would require post-secondary institutions across the province to receive provincial approval to obtain federal research grants.  

At the meeting, I shared with the Minister that any attempt to subject academic staffs’ research grants for compliance with provincial political priorities will inevitably diminish the perceived quality of the academic research being done in Alberta.  

Should this Bill be passed, the best and brightest researchers will leave Alberta to pursue their research in jurisdictions where their work is judged solely for its intellectual and scholarly merits. Their students will go with them.  
I emphasized that no government concerned with maintaining its competitive advantage would introduce such a bill.  

The Bill in its current form would jeopardize what academic staff in Alberta have accomplished, and what they can accomplish in the future. I also reminded the Minister that at the May 2024 General Faculties Council Meeting, GFC unanimously passed a potion stating its opposition to Bill 18.  

The Minister indicated there is no will around the Cabinet table to amend the Bill to exclude the post-secondary system as academic staff unions are requesting. She invited leaders present to participate in the consultation process to create the regulations associated with the Bill.  

We are thankful the Minister expressed a willingness to continue to listen to academic staff unions. AASUA will continue to advocate for changes to the Bill; we simply cannot allow such an intrusion on our institutional autonomy and the ability of the university to undertake its work to produce knowledge for the public good.  


Gordon Swaters 
AASUA President