Alberta had the largest loss in university teachers

Since the UCP has been in power, Alberta has seen the largest decrease in full-time academic staff at Canadian universities.

Statistics Canada recently released data on full-time academic workers at Canadian universities, and I thought I’d through the data to see how Alberta has fared, particularly during the time the UCP has been in power.

After all, if Alberta has seen year after year of cuts to postsecondary education, surely it’s affected how many people are still teaching at the universities in Alberta.

First, here’s how many people were teaching full-time at universities in each province during the most recent academic year: 2021–2022.

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Unsurprisingly, Alberta has the fourth highest. I’m not surprised because Alberta also has the fourth largest population in the country. It makes sense that these numbers would reflect that.

Granted, this shows the situation at one point in time. To get a better picture of these numbers, we should take a look at them over time. So, let’s compare them to the 2018–2019 school year, the last year before the UCP were in power.

2018–20192021–2022Change% change

Over this 3-year period, Alberta was one of only two provinces that saw a reduction in full-time academic workers at Canadian universities. While the three largest provinces in the country all saw increases to the number of full-time academic workers, Alberta got rid of over 150 of theirs.

The UCP will tell you that Alberta was paying more than “comparator provinces” for post-secondary wages, which implies that we had too many full-time academic workers in the province.

In 2018–2019, Alberta’s share of the country’s full-time academic workers was 10.94%. Three years later, that percentage has dropped to 10.31%.

However, Alberta accounts for 11.7% of Canada’s population. Which means that on a per capita basis, Alberta already had too few full-time academic workers.

Okay, but were they all sessionals? Did we increase all the professorials ranks but lose a bunch of sessionals?

Well, not quite.

2018–20192021–2022Change% change
Full professor1,7881,887995.54%
Associate professor1,6951,650-45-2.65%
Assistant professor1,083858-225-20.78%

Alberta saw an increase in about 100 full professors while the UCP have been in power. It’s possible that some (or even all) of the 45 associate professors were promoted to full professor, but even in that scenario, we still lost more than twice the number of assistant professors than the number of full professors we gained.

And just so we’re clear, 1 in 5 assistant professors employed in Alberta are no longer assistant professors.

And people not in a professorial rank, which would include sessionals, increased by only 18. For the entire province. That’s an average increase of just 6 sessionals (and others) per year across all Alberta universities.

It gets worse.

During the 2014–2015 school year, the last year the Progressive Conservatives were in power, there were 4,986 full-time academic workers in Alberta.

That means two things. First, under the NDP government, Alberta universities hired over 100 full-time academic workers. Second, after 3 years under the UCP administration, Alberta not only lost all the workers hired under the NDP, but we lost nearly another 60 for good measure.

We have fewer people teaching full-time in Alberta universities now than we did in 2014–2015.

No wonder two faculty associations went on strike last year, the first time ever in Alberta.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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