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Bill C-312

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Second Session, Forty-third Parliament,
69-70 Elizabeth II, 2020-2021
HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA
BILL C-312
An Act relating to cash contributions by Canada and to criteria and conditions in respect of post-secondary education
FIRST READING, June 17, 2021
Ms. McPherson
432108


SUMMARY

This enactment establishes criteria and conditions in respect of funding for post-secondary education in a province that must be met before a cash contribution may be made. It also provides for the development of a framework for the division of the total Canada Social Transfer entitlement into two distinct components.
Available on the House of Commons website at the following address:
www.ourcommons.ca


2nd Session, 43rd Parliament,
69-70 Elizabeth II, 2020-2021
HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA
BILL C-312
An Act relating to cash contributions by Canada and to criteria and conditions in respect of post-secondary education

Preamble

Whereas Parliament recognizes that post-secondary education has an important role in the economic, social, cultural and political development of Canada and in the learning and development opportunities of individual Canadians;
Whereas Parliament wishes to ensure that post-secondary educational institutions have sufficient resources to accommodate academically capable applicants, regardless of their background or status;
Whereas Parliament is committed to protecting the quality of post-secondary education throughout Canada and to ensuring and facilitating access to post-secondary education by
protecting the right of all academically capable applicants to open and equal access to post-secondary education,
encouraging measures that remove barriers due to socio-economic status or membership in a group or class of persons not fully served by existing post-secondary education programs,
working progressively towards the elimination of tuition and other user fees in cooperation with the provinces,
developing and maintaining financial assistance programs for students,
protecting the principles of free and independent academic inquiry, academic freedom, and the academic and intellectual autonomy of post-secondary educational institutions,
encouraging fair employment practices,
promoting quality in teaching and research, and
encouraging and strengthening the present teaching and research capacities of post-secondary educational institutions and ensuring the integrity and independence of that work;
And whereas Parliament wishes to encourage the development of post-secondary education by assisting the provinces in meeting the costs of that education;
Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Short title
1This Act may be cited as the Canada Post-Secondary Education Act.

Interpretation

Definitions
2The following definitions apply in this Act.
cash contribution means a cash contribution that may be provided to a province under any other Act of Parliament. (contribution pécuniaire)
Minister means the Minister of Employment and Social Development. (ministre)
post-secondary educational institution means a university, college, vocational school or other institution prescribed by the regulations that offers a course of study leading to a degree, diploma or certificate and that ordinarily receives operating grants from the government of a province. (établissement d’enseignement post­secondaire)
provincial minister means the minister of the government of a province who is responsible for post-secondary education. (ministre provincial)

Purpose of Act

Purpose
3The purpose of this Act is to establish criteria and conditions that must be met before a cash contribution may be made to a province in respect of post-secondary educational institutions.

Cash Contribution for Post-Secondary Education

Payment of Contribution

Cash contribution
4Subject to the other provisions of this Act, a cash contribution may be made to each province for each fiscal year.

Criteria and Conditions

Qualifying criteria — institutions
5In order for a province to qualify for a cash contribution for a fiscal year, the post-secondary educational institutions in the province must, throughout the fiscal year, satisfy the following criteria, for which conditions are set out in sections 7 to 10:
(a)public administration;
(b)academic independence;
(c)quality; and
(d)accessibility.
Exemption
6In recognition of the provincial jurisdictions with regard to post-secondary education, the Government of Quebec may choose to be exempted from the application of section 5 and, despite any such decision, is entitled to receive the cash contribution under section 4.
Public administration
7In order to satisfy the criterion respecting public administration, the post-secondary educational institutions in a province must be
(a)administered and operated on a non-profit basis;
(b)responsible to the government of the province for their administration and operation; and
(c)subject to audit of their accounts and financial transactions by the authority that is charged by law with the audit of the province’s accounts.
Academic independence
8In order to satisfy the criterion respecting academic independence, the post-secondary educational institutions in a province must
(a)protect the academic and intellectual autonomy of their staff and students; and
(b)prevent outside entities, including donors, from exercising undue influence over research, the development program curricula and employment decisions.
Quality
9In order to satisfy the criterion respecting quality, the post-secondary educational institutions in a province must
(a)limit the use of short-term contracts, casual labour and contracting out in hiring faculty; and
(b)report to the provincial minister as prescribed by the province on the ratio of full-time faculty to students, the ratio of senior administrators to students, the use of contract faculty and course loads among faculty.
Accessibility
10In order to satisfy the criterion respecting accessibility, the post-secondary educational institutions in a province must
(a)ensure reasonable access to academically capable applicants regardless of ability to pay; and
(b)provide tuition fees to be paid in accordance with a schedule authorized by the law of the province.
Condition on province
11In order for a province to qualify for a cash contribution, the government of the province must, at the times and in the manner prescribed by the regulations, provide the Minister with the prescribed information that the Minister may reasonably require for the purposes of this Act.

Defaults

Referral to Governor in Council
12(1)If the Minister is of the opinion that a post-secondary educational institution in a province does not satisfy all the criteria described in sections 7 to 10, or that a province has failed to comply with section 11, the Minister must, subject to subsections (2) to (4), refer the matter to the Governor in Council.
Discussion process
(2)Before referring the matter to the Governor in Council, the Minister must
(a)send a notice of concern with respect to any apparent default, by registered mail, to the provincial minister;
(b)request any additional information available from the province regarding the apparent default; and
(c)seek to enter bilateral discussions regarding the apparent default with the provincial minister.
Conditions
(3)The Minister may refer the matter to the Governor in Council only if the province has not given an undertaking satisfactory to the Minister to remedy the default within a period that the Minister considers reasonable.
When no discussion takes place
(4)Despite subsection (2), the Minister may act if the Minister is of the opinion that sufficient time has passed since reasonable efforts were made to enter discussions with the provincial minister and no discussions have taken place.
Order reducing or withholding contribution
13(1)If, on the referral of a matter, the Governor in Council is of the opinion that the post-secondary educational institution in the province does not satisfy all the criteria described in sections 7 to 10, or that the province has failed to comply with section 11, the Governor in Council may, by order,
(a)direct that any cash contribution to that province for a fiscal year be reduced in respect of each default by an amount that the Governor in Council considers appropriate, given the gravity of the default; or
(b)direct that the whole of any cash contribution to that province for a fiscal year be withheld.
Amending order
(2)The Governor in Council may, by order, repeal or amend any order made under subsection (1) if the Governor in Council is of the opinion that the repeal or amendment is warranted in the circumstances.
Copy of order
(3)A copy of each order made under this section, together with a statement of any findings on which the order was based, must be sent without delay by registered mail to the provincial minister concerned, and the Minister must cause the order and statement to be tabled in each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House is sitting after the order is made.
Commencement of order
(4)An order made under subsection (1) must not come into force earlier than 30 days after the day on which a copy of it has been sent to the provincial minister concerned.
Reimposition of reductions or withholdings
14If a post-secondary educational institution continues to fail to satisfy all of the criteria described in sections 7 to 10, or if a province continues to fail to comply with section 11, the Governor in Council must reimpose, for each succeeding fiscal year, any reduction or withholding of a cash contribution to the province under section 13 for as long as the Governor in Council is of the opinion, after consultation with the provincial minister, that the default is continuing.
When reduction or withholding imposed
15The reduction or withholding of a cash contribution under section 13 or 14 may be imposed in the fiscal year in which the default that gave rise to the reduction or withholding occurred or in the following fiscal year.

Regulations

Regulations
16The Governor in Council may make regulations for carrying out the purposes and provisions of this Act, including regulations prescribing
(a)institutions or types of institution for the purpose of the definition post-secondary educational institution;
(b)the information that the Minister may require under section 11 and the times at which and the manner in which that information must be provided.

Report to Parliament

Annual report by Minister
17(1)As soon as feasible after the end of each fiscal year but no later than December 31 following the end of that fiscal year, the Minister must prepare a report respecting the administration and operation of this Act for that fiscal year, including
(a)initiatives and developments relating to post-secondary education;
(b)the amount of the cash contribution provided to each province under this Act;
(c)recommendations respecting supplementary cash contributions to a province; and
(d)all relevant information on the extent to which post-secondary institutions in the provinces and the provinces have met the criteria and conditions for cash contributions under this Act, including
(i)a description of the services provided by post-secondary education institutions in each province during that fiscal year,
(ii)the amount spent by the government of each province during that fiscal year on post-secondary institutions,
(iii)indicators of availability, such as an analysis of the number of spaces available to groups or classes of persons who, in the past, have not been fully served by post-secondary education services,
(iv)indicators of affordability, such as average tuition fees charged in each province and average student debt accumulated by students in the province,
(v)indicators of quality, such as training requirements, average class size, ratios of full-time faculty to students, and supplies and facilities, and
(vi)indicators of accessibility, such as eligibility criteria and the number of students receiving financial aid.
Tabling in Parliament
(2)The Minister must cause the report to be tabled in each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House is sitting after the report is completed.
Referral to committee
(3)The report must be referred to a committee of each House that is designated or established for the purpose of considering matters relating to employment and social development.

Canada Social Transfer Framework

Development
18(1)Within six months after the day on which this Act receives royal assent, the Minister must, in consultation with provincial ministers, establish a framework for the division of the total Canada Social Transfer entitlement into two distinct components, the first to be provided to the provinces for the purpose of funding programs in respect of social assistance and social services, including early childhood development and early learning and child care services, and the second to be provided to the provinces solely for the purposes of post-secondary education.
Purpose
(2)The purpose of the framework is to develop a long-term and predictable funding formula for federal contributions to the provinces.
Implementation
(3)Within 60 days after the day on which the framework is established, the Minister must undertake the implementation of any remaining measures to divide the Canada Social Transfer.
Published under authority of the Speaker of the House of Commons

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