Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tell Me about it: housing crisis for low income Canadians

Social Housing Investment Vital to Canada’s

Low-Income Families

What UVic student doesn't know the trials of finding affordable housing in Victoria? Check out this report release from the Canadian Policy Research Network:

December 6, 2007 – Housing, together with food and shelter, are the necessities of life, yet we know that close to 1.5 million, or roughly 14% of Canadians, a large number being single mothers and children, are in need of adequate shelter. Many are not housed at all.

Many low-income Canadians depend on government commitment to social housing to provide them with affordable housing opportunities, but over the past 15 years overall government support and investment in social housing has declined.

CPRN has successfully partnered with the Social Housing Services Corporation of Ontario (SHSC), the Knowledge Mobilization Unit of York University, and the City of Ottawa (for Infrastructure Canada’s Knowledge Building, Outreach and Awareness Program) to explore a number of critical social housing issues: strengthening housing governance, effectively considering social inclusion in design, the relationship between non-profit organizations and social housing, the challenges of city-regions and sustainable affordable rental housing, and social lives in social housing.

A Safer Haven: Innovations for Improving Social Housing in Canada by CPRN Acting Assistant Director Nathalie Pierre is a synthesis of key findings from the six research papers produced by CPRN research interns through the partnership with SHSC, York University and the City of Ottawa. The research findings demonstrate that social housing plays a central role in stabilizing people’s lives and helping them access social services that promote community integration and individual and family well-being. This purpose should be recognized fully by governments to strengthen and expand social housing in Canada.

To read or download A Safer Haven, click here. For a list of the six research papers and links to read or download, click here.

A Message from CPRN President Sharon Manson Singer

Dear Friends of CPRN,

On behalf of the CPRN Board of Directors and staff, I want to thank you for your continued support in the work of CPRN over the past year.

During 2007, CPRN reorganized following the federal government’s decision to eliminate its core funding for our research and public policy dialogue program. We adopted a new business model and, most importantly, we are developing an exciting new research framework, Connecting with Canadians, which will be our focus over the next three to five years. Connecting with Canadians is based on what Canadians expect from government, business and community organizations and what they believe, as citizens, we should give back to society. It is rooted in the values and priorities of Canadians as expressed to us in deliberative dialogues over the last several years.

While these activities were underway, CPRN continued its commitment to high quality socio-economic policy research and dialogue. We produced reports and conducted dialogues on a number of critical issues including productivity, the challenges of youth transitioning from high school to the labour market and youth disengagement in our political process.

Through this work, the interest in CPRN’s work grew tremendously! There were almost 2 million downloads of our publications in 2007, an increase of 15% over 2006. All our publications are available free to the non-profit sector, academic researchers and government decision-makers across Canada as well as around the world. The continued growth and success of our Web-based distribution of research reports and information positions CPRN as the leading socio-economic policy think tank in Canada!

We are pleased that CPRN’s voice and high quality research continues to be valued. We are committed to strengthening and expanding its presence in 2008. To that end, I hope you will consider making a donation to CPRN. Click here to make your tax-deductible gift by credit card via a secure site. An e-receipt will be sent to you. Or, you can send a cheque to CPRN, 214-151 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1P 5H3.

If you or your organization would like more information on how you can support CPRN in its work, please contact

If you have already made a gift in support of our work, a heartfelt thank you. And to our new donors, thank you!

Thank you for your continued support.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Sharon Manson Singer, President
Canadian Policy Research Networks

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Recycling plastic toys

You can't donate it because it is broken or missing parts, but you don't want to throw it in the garbage and contribute to the landfill? Why, oh why, did I buy those plastic toys for my child??
Good news! Hartland Landfill accepts plastic toys for recycling as follows:

"We do not accept plastic toys in the blue box, however we do accept them in the recycling area at Hartland Landfill in the Large Rigid Plastic bin. Please remove all non-plastic parts. We do accept batteries in the recycling area as well in the Household Hazardous Waste area."

CRD Hotline
CRD Environmental Services
phone: 360-3030
voice mail: 360-3235
fax: 360-3047

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

mmmm chocolate beer!

Hiya its winter so (hurrah!) chocolate beer is on tap at the Grad Lounge (IQ Bistro).
Check out this Quirks and Quarks (CBC Science radio show) about chocolate beer---

qq-2007-11-17_03-Chocolate Beer

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Open Hours for Grad Students

The Centre for Studies in Religion and Society


An Open House for UVic Graduate Students


Thursday, December 6, 2007, 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


Sedgewick Building, Vandekerkhove Wing, Room B102


  • Student Fellowship Information
  • Research and Publishing Opportunities
  • Refreshments
  • Students from All Disciplines Welcome

Information: 721-6325/ /


Monday, November 19, 2007

Michael Byers speaks at UVic

"Canada is one of the most powerful countries in the world."

It's not how we're used to hearing ourselves described, but Dr. Michael
Byers makes a powerful case that Canada has clout, and needs to use it for
peace, the environment and global justice.

Byers is speaking November 22 at UVIC about the themes in his recent book,
Intent for a Nation: What is Canada For?

Byers is the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International
Law at UBC, and is the author of several books, including "War Law:
Understanding International Law and Armed Conflict". His most recent,
"Intent for a Nation: What is Canada For?", examines everything from
prisoner transfers by the Canadian army in Afghanistan to how climate
change is thawing the ice of the Northwest Passage, and changing the geo
politics of the north. Despite the subject matter, Byers has been
described as "relentlessly positive" in his assertion that Canada has the
ability to effect change.

Event information:
Thursday, November 22, 2007, 7pm
Fraser (Law) Building Room 159
University of Victoria
Free and open to the public

view event on facebook

Monday, November 5, 2007

Transit campaign picks up speed

A new blog featuring campaign information regarding transit in Victoria can be found here:

make sure to check out transit events this week. Check out or the blog above for info on the events.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

GSS Chair interviewed on CBC Radio

GSS Chair Patrick Reed was interviewed on CBC Radio Victoria's morning show October 10 about the campaign to hold a referendum on defederation from the CFS.

A link to the interview is available here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

BC Budget Consultations

You can give input into the BC 2008 budget by filling out a short online survey here.

I would be very interested to hear the perspective of grad students with expertise in survey design about the structure of the survey as I think the questions are leading. For instance, one of the questions is:

Last year, Balanced Budget 2007 provided an additional $476 million over four years towards housing supports for everyone from the homeless to homeowners. Are there other housing initiatives you would like us to consider?

Seems to me what is described is funding, not an initiative, and it looks at cost only which I would argue inhibits suggestions of spending more. if the questions said "Victoria has 1,242 homeless people in the 2007 homeless count, what housing initiatives would you like us to consider" my guess is there would be a stronger interest in housing those people even if it is expensive.

In any case, whether your issue is how funding for graduate students has been implemented, housing, childcare, or climate change you have until October 19, 2007 to have your say.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Grad student only clubs?

A problem that arises every year is the method by which the GSS organizes clubs.
About five years ago, graduate students ran a referendum in which they decided to fund clubs, services and other groups in the SUB thus guaranteeing membership for graduate students in those groups. these groups include constituency groups of the UVSS (such as the Native Students' Union and AVP (the campus sexual assault centre)), VIPIRG, and UVSS Clubs. UVSS clubs range from political clubs like the Young Liberals or Young NDP to religious clubs to social and and activity clubs such as the Outdoors Club or Sailing Club.

Every year a group of graduate students try to form a club but find they cannot because UVSS clubs policy requires a certain percentage of members of clubs be undergraduate students.

This poses a dilemma for the GSS. Would it be better to have separate funding for clubs come to the GSS so graduate students can form our own clubs but graduate students have to pay fees to join UVSS clubs, or is it best to maintain access to all the UVSS clubs as through our current system, but forfeit the ability of graduate students to initiate clubs without a majority of undergraduate members?

I am interested to hear what graduate students would prefer.

Grad Students: Run for Senate!

If you are a graduate student in Business, Human Social Development or Law, consider running for a seat on the UVIC Senate!

It is my humble opinion that we need more graduate students on the Senate! Check out the call for candidates at this link. And you can learn more about the Senate here.

The Senate has many standing committees--including committees on planning, academic standards, libraries, continuing studies--and they all report back to the Senate for approval. So if you are interested in a wide range of issues in how the university is managed, this might be the election for you!

Friday, September 21, 2007

CFS defederation petition makes the news

Five student unions have submitted petitions to defederate from the Canadian Federation of Students, including UVic's Graduate Students' Society (as posted directly below) and two other graduate student bodies--Concordia graduate students and Simon Fraser Student Union (which is mixed graduate and undergraduate).

The Macleans magazine online has picked up on the story here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

CFS Defederation petition

Many of you will have seen petitions in your departments and the grad centre calling for a referendum on membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).

On Friday September 14, the GSS received a petition with 11.4% of currently registered graduate students' signatures calling for this referendum. Accordingly, notice has been sent to the CFS of a referendum to be held March 18-20, 2008, which is in accordance with the CFS requirement of six months notice of a defederation vote.

If you have read the latest issue of the GSS magazine, Unacknowledged Source you will find an article on the reasons behind the petition, as well as a piece by CFS-BC Chairperson, Shamus Reid discussing the merits of the CFS. Over the next six months, expect to hear more from both sides of the membership debate.

More information on the defederation campaign can be found here:

Note that students at SFU and Kwantlen College are also holding membership referenda.

More information from the CFS about their campaigns and services can be found here:

Monday, September 10, 2007

Student loans in the news

Fairness in student loan policy is popping up in debates everywhere. A recent article in the Tyee (BC's online left-leaning web news source) is looking at the impact of loans on students post graduation.

The federal government is having online public consultations on student loan policy until September 28. Background in the form of a press release is here

Give your input on the student loans program here.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Grad Student Boogie Challenge 2007

Amy (on our front desk) introduced me to her friend Katherine's Grad Office Boogie on youtube and I think UVIC grad students can do better. We dare you to post a grad office boogie and send it to us so we can post the links and make you famous. (Actual talent is verboten!). We will find a prize (depending on how good you are) for the BEST/WORST (or the person who manages to be both!) submission!! Send submissions to gsscomm [ at ]

Has there ever been a better argument for grad students needing their own office? Check out that guy trying to get work done!

You can also fine Katherines marvelous failed audition for Canadian Idol, which achieved her goal of making it to the "Worst Auditions" show!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The First Nations Day of Action: Why we should support it

Thursday June 28, 2pm
Grad Centre Room 108 (board room), UVIC.

Come join the GSS for tea and coffee and an informal round table discussion with:

an MA student in Indigenous Governance who is from the Nuchalnuth First Nation

Glen Coulthard
, a Dene activist and PhD student in political theory at the University of Victoria who teaches courses in the Indigenous Governance Programs and the Department of Political Science.

What is the day of action?
National Chief Phil Fontaine issued an invitation to all canadians to join a peaceful First Nations Day of Action to improve the lives of First Nations people. Information on June 29th activities and the campaign can be found at Chief Fontaine also discussed many of the issues faced by First Nations in this short YouTube statement about the Day of Action:

For more information about this event, contact Stacy at

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Deans presentation on expanding grad enrolment

Recent funding from the BC government will mean a rapid expansion in graduate student enrollment, starting in September 2007 and continuing to 2010. This link is to Dean Aaron Devor's presentation at a recent Town Hall meeting to explain the new funding and possible impacts at UVic.
While pleased to finally have a BC graduate scholarship, the GSS is concerned about the impact of resources such as office space and supervisory time with this jump in enrollment.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Grad student rep needed for UVSS constituency group council

The GSS is seeking a graduate student representative to sit on the UVSS advocacy council.

Every graduate student contributes to the UVSS constituency groups budget, and as such graduate students have a seat on the Advocacy Council, which recommends budget allocations to constituency groups, and supports the groups working effectively. You can view the terms of reference for this council below.

If you are interested, please send a brief statement of interest, along with your full name, degree program, and contact information to



1. Type

a. Standing, open committee of the UVSS BoD with closed membership.

2. Purpose

a. Act as the primary liaison between constituency organisations, NSU and the BoD.

3. Duties

a. Serve as a forum for constituency organisations to work collectively on common issues on campus and in the community such as but not limited to, homophobia, sexism, racism, anti-semitism, classism, colonialism, ableism and ageism.

b. Allocate funds from the constituency control account to constituency organisations subject to approval by the BoD

c. Facilitate the reactivation of inactive advocacy council member organizations

4. Membership

a. The Chairperson - ex officio and chair of the committee

b. One Director elected by the BoD

c. One GSS member elected by the GSS

d. Resource Coordinator(s) – ex officio and non voting

e. One representative from each Constituency Group, as per UVSS bylaws selected by their respective organization and ratified by the BoD

f. One representative selected by the NSU and ratified by the BoD

5. Quorum

a. Shall be a majority of voting members and the chair and not less than three (3) voting members.

6. Meetings

a. Shall meet at least once a semester at date set by the chair of the committee or upon the call of the BoD.

7. Term of Office

a. Shall be from the date of appointment until the end of the current board year (ie April 30).

Friday, May 4, 2007

Childcare Bill supported by GSS

The GSS Sent this letter in support of Bill C303, the Access to Childcare act.

April 30, 2007

Dear members of the House of Commons HUMA Standing Committee,

I am writing on behalf of the University of Victoria Graduate Students’ Society (GSS) to encourage you to support Bill C-303.

Access to affordable childcare has a major impact on the ability of many of our members to succeed in pursing post-graduate studies. In 2006, there were 2423 graduate students at UVic, and of these 1426 were women. The median age of full time graduate students is 30 yrs, but for part time students, who are often students juggling parenting, jobs and their studies, the median age is 37.

While UVic has excellent childcare facilities, the wait for childcare, both at UVic and at other childcare centres in Victoria, can be several years. There are simply not enough spaces available. Many students complete an entire degree without being able to access UVic childcare services. Even parents who can afford the most expensive facilities are sometimes unable to find care. Bill C303 addresses the need to create new childcare spaces.

Lack of spaces drives prices up and for families living on a low income this means it is even more difficult to find safe, quality childcare. According to Campaign 2000, BC holds the shameful distinction of having the highest rate of child poverty in Canada (23.5%). For parents who are raising children in poverty, post secondary education is one route to increasing family income. For many students, the cost of childcare is a major barrier to attending college or university. In 2005, the average monthly cost of childcare in BC ranged from $705 for infants to $419 for after school care, and according to Statistics Canada’s Consumer Price Index, childcare costs in BC rose 5.6% from 2005 to 2007. Bill C303 supports the creation of public, affordable childcare.

Finally, Bill C303 safeguards federal funding for childcare. This is especially important to citizens of BC, where shortly after a federal childcare funding announcement the provincial government cut funds for infrastructure and creating new childcare spaces in BC.

For these reasons, we encourage you to support Bill C-303.

Patrick Reed
University of Victoria Graduate Students’ Society

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Travel Grants amounts increased

The Faculty of Graduate Studies is pleased to announce that travel grant funding has been increased as of April 1, 2007.


As part of our commitment to support the research activities of our graduate students, we have adjusted the following categories:


Travel Grant category:

Previous funding amount:

New amount:











Students who have already been approved for travel grant funding for the current fiscal year (travel occurring after April 1, 2007) will receive the additional funding in the particular category to which they have applied. No new application is required in order to receive the increased amounts. Those students who have already been approved for travel grants should submit receipts to the Faculty of Graduate Studies that equal or exceed the new amount in their particular category.


Please distribute this announcement to all of your graduate students.  Attached are revised travel grant regulations, as well as a new travel grant application form. Please use these forms from now on. They can also be found on our web site at


If you have any questions, please contact Anitra Winje, Travel Grant Facilitator, at 472-5209 or

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

BC Govt releases Campus 20/20

This document is a discussion of the BC government's vision for post secondary education in BC.

Report recommendations for graduate studies and research include:

"40. Limit granting of doctoral degrees to the four provincial universities.

41. Building on the recent commitment to create 2,500 new graduate student
spaces by 2010, develop a plan to implement the BC Access and Excellence
Strategy target of the highest per capita enrolment of graduate students in
Canada by 2015.

42. Allocate the new graduate student spaces to UBC, UVic and SFU in proportions
similar to the existing distribution of research funding and graduate student

43. Establish an expanded program of graduate student financial aid to ensure no
qualified applicant for graduate studies is denied access on the basis of financial

44. Increase and thereafter maintain direct investment in research and innovation in
public post-secondary institutions sufficient to ensure BC is in the three highest
spending provinces by 2010.

45. Implement a “Georgia Strait” research cluster initiative by ensuring that at least
95 per cent of all provincial research funding is awarded to UBC, SFU and UVic.

46. Establish a continuing commercialization strategy to ensure that the province
and post-secondary institutions are maximizing opportunities to benefit from
commercially realizable research discoveries.

47. Task the Higher Education Board to develop and report on performance
measures with respect to results from provincial funding for research."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

UVIC library: grad student input

A big thanks to all the graduate students who participated in giving the library feedback. Your ideas have been included in the library's internal review. Have a look at this summary of graduate student input!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Copyright infringement case at U of T leads to how-to guide

Another interesting post on

A number of high-profile copyright infringement cases – including one at the University of Toronto – have inspired a campaign to educate graduate students about their rights when it comes to protecting ideas and work from possible theft.

The Carleton Graduate Students' Association is spearheading an initiative to educate the university's 3,300 grad students on how to safeguard their intellectual property while ensuring they're being properly recognized for their work.

The initiative will include workshops and a handbook outlining what would constitute an infraction of students' intellectual property rights, said association president Oren Howlett.

Examples include a student not receiving authorship on written work, or having a professor take credit for their work.

Full story here

UofT to dump tobacco investments

Found online at Interesting given the move to consider smoking ban at UVIC.

The University of Toronto is the latest university to alter its investment portfolio, citing ethical concerns. With yesterday’s announcement to divest millions in tobacco stocks, U of T became the first educational institution in Canada to boycott the tobacco industry.

A student activist who successfully campaigned to have U of T sell off its tobacco investments says other Canadian schools should follow suit and end the "unethical practice."

"We hope that other institutions will get a clear message that investing in tobacco companies is an unethical practice and it's something that should not be done," Tyler Ward, president of Education Bringing Youth Tobacco Truths (E-BUTT).

Many universities have taken similar steps for ethical reasons. Recently, Queen’s University divested its holdings in two Chinese oil companies because of their involvement in Darfur.

Read the full story here

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Grad Rep Council April 17 Meeting call

Dear Grad Reps,

The GSS Executive Board has decided to call an April meeting of the Grad Rep council for April 17 at 5pm.

Agenda as currently proposed is below. I added more background than usual at the request of a member.:

1. Approve Agenda
2. Approve Minutes

    (January 2007 and February 2007)

3. Executive Reports
4. Departmental Reports
(If you would like to submit a written report to save time, please email it to me by April 11 and I will attach it to the agenda)

5. CFS Membership Review Committee report (referred from SGM to Grad Council)
6. Election of a CFS-BC representative
7. Fellowship Campaign review and update
We have a temporary improvement in the current situation, but some grad reps have expressed concern that we have not had a chance to discuss this solution, nor the presentation by the Dean at the last GRC.
8. Seek volunteers for a 2007-08 Campaigns planning session (to meet in the Summer)
The GSS Executive will do quite a bit of planning for Fall and Spring campaigns during the Summer. This is an invite for any grad reps who would like to help shape that campaign plan.
9. Summer Leisure Club!
It will be as good as you make it!
10. Announcements/Other business
11. Adjournment
If you would like to add any further agenda items, please send them to me at and I will circulate a final agenda on May 10.

If you are going to be away, please seek an alternate to attend from your department. If there is no one that can attend from your department, please RSVP ASAP and let us know so we will be aware of any quorum issues well in advance.

Thanks very much!

And a big BIG thanks to everyone who came out to the SGM, last week.


Friday, March 30, 2007

New GSS Executive Elected

The people have spoken and the Grad Exec for 2007/08 will take office April 1.

Chair: Patrick Reed (Philosophy)
Director of Services: Brandy Sistili (Dispute Resolution)
Director of Communications: Joseph Kolthammer (Physics)
Director of Finance: Ian Hussey (Sociology)
Director of Student Affairs: Lee Blanding (History)

Thank you to everyone who came to the Semi-annual General Meeting and participated in selecting your new executive board.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Victory on Fellowships .. partly

The campaign has paid off, we have achieved a significant improvement to the UVIC fellowship policy. It is not perfect, but it does provide more economic security for fellowship holders.

UVIC's new policy will be:
Fellowship cheques and cheques for all scholarships at UVIC (including the new BC Graduate Student Scholarships) will not be withheld unless tuition is unpaid in the previous semester. Therefore, students starting in September will receive their cheques in Septembr, October, November, December without interruption, but MUST pay their tuition by the end of December.
Late fees will apply as for any other student.

This policy will stand until the NOVA system is in place, allowing more flexibility for installments of tuition to be taken off cheques paid to students by UVIC.

The full text of the letter from FGS about this change is available in letter format outside the GSS office.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Great new site for Canadian Grad Students!

Check out this site from the publishers of The Peer Review. Its called the Grad Student Survival guide and has links to great information and past articles from their magazine.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fellowships & Bursary Payments Action

Hi Grad students: great Grad Council meeting last night with lots of debate on the UVIC Fellowships and Bursaries, and the way UVIC could handle this problem better.

What are the next steps on the fellowship and bursary payment campaign?

Not sure what this is about? Check out the GSS reports on the issues here:

BC Budget 2007 includes grad student scholarships

The BC Budget 2007 released includes the following:

"Budget 2007 reconfirms government's commitment to create, in partnership with the post-secondary sector, 25,000 new student spaces including the commitment to create 2,500 new graduate spaces. Budget 2007 includes $82 million in new funding over three years for these initiatives to increase access to the post-secondary system. An additional $20 million is being funded in 2006/07 to provide scholarships and internships to support the new and existing graduate spaces."

You can find this on page 9 of the document Balanced Budget 2007 - Province of British Columbia: Part 1: Three-Year Fiscal Plan. Located here:

The UVIC GSS is currently contacting the ministry to seek more details as to how this will be implemented.

Another item of interest to UVIC graduate students:
"The Ministry of Advanced Education will provide $15 million over the next two years to plan and implement Aboriginal post-secondary service plans for institutions in collaboration with Aboriginal communitites and develop culturally enhanced curricula, programs and services"

Monday, February 26, 2007

Carleton Grads seek help with RA funding issue

Hi all,

We seem to be having an issue with RA funding that we could use your help with.

Here at Carleton, non-unionized RA funding is currently accounted for as a research grant which is taxable. In the past, only $3000 of this awarded funding was tax-exempt and students could then deduct expenses from the total “grant”. But with the exemption of scholarships and fellowships from income tax, it seems like this practice is going to cost grads thousands of dollars. This is especially disturbing in cases where the research being conducted by students on these RAs falls into the government’s definition of fellowship funding.

So, we were wondering if you could answer the following questions about the way your institution accounts for RAs.

1) How are your RA accounted for? Are they seen as non-taxable fellowships or taxable research grants?

2) If they are fellowships, have there been any downsides or unintended impacts of this arrangement?

Finally, this might be a topic we could discuss at our next NGC meeting. It seems to me that some policy guidelines and best practices might help other schools who find themselves in a similar situation.

Thanks for your time and look forward to getting your responses.



Oren Howlett


Graduate Student's Union

Carleton University

Local 78, Canadian Federation of Students

613-520-2600 x8271