Grad students, postdoctoral fellows, and supporters at Queen’s University joined a nationwide walkout on Monday demanding increased federal investment into their wages.
Federally funded grad students say the majority haven’t seen a pay increase in 20 years despite 50% inflation over that time.
While it ran shorter than expected due to poor weather, Queen’s saw roughly 100 participate in the walkout culminating at Summer Hill, with groups from the chemistry, biology, physics, and psychology departments confirming their attendance ahead of the demonstration.
The local demonstration was part of a larger “Support our Science” demonstration involving over 40 universities all throughout the country.
Executive Director of Support Our Science Sarah Laframboise said those fighting for change are hoping provincial and federal government will step up for the next generation.
“Today, the research community has come together to declare the importance of graduate students
and postdocs in Canada,” said Laframboise in a release.
“We hope this momentum will compel the government to take action and show their support for the next
generation of research and innovation!”
Grad students at Queen’s have held multiple rallies calling for an end to grad student tuition and better wages from Queen’s, but Monday’s demonstration is a protest of the 2023 federal budget that calls on the federal government to increase the value, size, and number of triagency grants available to post grads.
While most post grad students aren’t federally funded, Support Our Science says federal grants typically serve as the benchmark for funding and would put pressure on other levels of government and private institutions to increase their own stipends.
Scholarships from the federal government currently grant $17,500 annually for master’s degree students, either $23,000 or $35,000 for PhD students, and $45,000 for postdoctoral fellowships.
Support our Science is calling for master’s scholarships to increase significantly in value to $25,900, postdoctoral fellowships to increase to $59,200, and the two levels of PhD scholarship to be levelled out at $35,000.
They also want 50% more scholarships funded per year, twice as many fellowships and the size of research grants to expand by 50%.
Throughout the province demonstrations saw marches to Parliament Hill in Ottawa and the constituency office of finance minister Chrystia Freeland in Toronto.