Field Law held its second Post-Secondary Summit on November 30, 2017 in Calgary. Brief summaries of the presentations given at the Summit are provided below.


Post-Secondary Academic Bargaining Under the Labour Relations Code

As a result of Bill 7, the Alberta Labour Relations Board is now responsible for overseeing post-secondary labour relations. In a discussion led by Jacqueline Lacasse (Director, Employee and Labour Relations, University of Calgary), the panel of William (Bill) Johnson, QC (Chair of the Alberta Labour Relations Board) and Kevin Feth, QC (Field Law) provided insight into how this is likely to unfold.

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Sabotage and Intrigue - The University of Manitoba Association Strike

Gregory Juliano (Associate Vice-President (Human Resources), University of Manitoba) discussed the University of Manitoba Faculty Association strike in 2016.

He highlighted that Manitoba is not unique and factors such as

  1. increasing accountability for how public money is spent,
  2. fiscal conservatism,
  3. the desire to coordinate/differentiate academic programs, and
  4. the need to drive economic development,

have motivated provincial governments to take an increasingly interventionist approach to post-secondary education.

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Bargaining Under the Alberta Labour Relations Code

After decades of bargaining outside of the Labour Relations Code ("Code") regime, Alberta post-secondary institutions must now collective bargain in accordance within the requirements of the Code. As a result, Frank Molnar, QC (Field Law), provided a summary of the bargaining requirements and restrictions under the Code and identified some of the significant changes and potential pitfalls of this new bargaining regime.

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The 21st Century Legislative Audit Office

Keynote lunch speaker Merwan Saher (Auditor General of Alberta) discussed the role of the "21st Century Legislative Audit Office". The Office of the Auditor General is responsible for auditing the use of resources by the government and its mandate includes reviewing the actions of the Department of Advanced Education, as well as Alberta's public post-secondary institutions. Merwan indicated that the Office of the Auditor General applies professional expertise to determine if things are working well and to provide Albertans with information so as to allow them to exercise insight into the actions and spending of government. The key to doing this in Alberta in the 21st century is ensuring the information provided is relevant, reliable, and at a reasonable cost.

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Governance Framework

Greg Harding, QC (Field Law) was the Chair of this panel on governance. Panel participants were Carol Ryder (Board Chair, Alberta College of Art and Design); Elizabeth (Liz) Watson, QC (President and CEO, WATSON Inc.); and Robert Driesen (Assistant Auditor General of Alberta).

Speaking to "Excellence in Board Governance", Carol outlined Board and Committee roles and composition under the Post-secondary Learning Act. She advocated for regular meetings between the board chairs and individual board members as well as the president. Relatedly, Liz advised that presidents should be subject to an annual review process. It was highlighted that feedback should be solicited from everyone (including board members, deans, students, donors, etc.) and that it should be used as an opportunity for the president to learn and become better aligned with the institution.

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Cyber-Security - The Ransomware Attack on the University of Calgary

Kelly Nicholson (Field Law) was the Chair of this panel. Panel participants were Linda Dalgetty (Vice President (Finance and Services), University of Calgary) and Justin Fong (Partner, Cyber-Security Division, Deloitte).

Justin detailed how cyber-attacks have risen to number five on the world's top threats list. As the data volume of our organizations increases, so too does our risk of attack. There are a number of different kinds of "hackers" (from casual limited attacks to advanced, persistent threats from hostile nation-states). Alarmingly, most cyber-attacks go unnoticed at first: it takes an average of 241 days to detect an attack and begin to respond.

In May of 2016, the University of Calgary suffered a catastrophic ransomware attack affecting a number of key areas. Linda Dalgetty discussed the importance of utilizing your resources (including following insurance recommendations) and ensuring your board of governors is ready to respond in a timely manner.

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Emerging Law: Access Copyright v. York University

In the final presentation, Tom O'Reilly (Field Law) offered his insights into the ongoing case of Access Copyright v. York University. Many in the post-secondary world will be aware that the June 2017 decision of Justice Phelan of the Federal Court, in the ongoing case of Access Copyright v. York University. The decision went against York and gave a win to Access Copyright – finding that York's Fair Dealing Guidelines were not effective to shield a great deal of the course-pack and other copying at York, from the fees Access Copyright claimed to be payable under the Interim Post-Secondary Tariff for 2011-2013.

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