Post-Secondary Education and the Alberta Brain Drain Town Hall

Join students, staff, faculty from Calgary to discuss the impact of funding cuts to post-secondary education on the brain drain seen in Alberta.

Universities and colleges have lost millions of dollars in funding, which has led to higher tuition for students and thousands of job losses for faculty and staff. Survey results show that students are more likely to consider leaving Alberta. On top of this, faculty and staff are more worried about job insecurity and are looking to other options for the future of their careers. This falls under a rising trend of the “Alberta brain drain” where highly trained individuals like doctors, nurses, and others are planning to leave Alberta, leaving the province with a less diverse working force.

How might post-secondary education be the solution to a brain drain? How will positive working and learning conditions help people choose Alberta? Why is it vital that we support our colleges and universities against budget cuts? Our panel of student, faculty, and staff speakers will discuss this at our upcoming town hall. Join us on Thursday, May 27 from 5 - 6:30pm on Zoom to learn more.

Register here 


Lee Easton is a professor in Mount Royal University’s Department of English, Languages and Cultures where he teaches composition, film studies and comics studies. Among his publications, Lee is co-author of numerous articles focused on teaching film studies in Canadian undergraduate classes. He is currently President of the Mount Royal Faculty Association, which represents 800 full-time and contract academic faculty. Lee has served on the MRFA’s negotiating committee for almost two decades, serving as the Association’s chief negotiator several times, most recently in 2018. He also brings extensive experience in bi-cameral governance at Mount Royal University.



David Stewart is the President of the University of Calgary Faculty Association and a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Calgary.  He was born and grew up in Nova Scotia and received his BA and MA from Acadia University. He completed his doctorate at the University of BC in 1990. He has taught at seven universities in the four western Canadian provinces. He was a member of the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta from 1992 until 2000. He joined the University of Calgary in the summer of 2005 and served six years as Head of the Political Science Department and a year as an Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts. ​


Justin Huseby is the Chair of Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Local 52, representing 5,200 University of Calgary support staff members located across Alberta. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Calgary and a B.Mgt. in Finance from the University of Lethbridge. He is active in the university, labour, and project management communities and is passionate about issues on post-secondary education, pay equity, and mental health and wellness access.





Rachel Timmermans, MRU Policy Studies Major, is entering her second term as SAMRU VP External and was recently elected Chair of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS). She is well-versed in political affairs and is an experienced lobbyist. Rachel was named the winner of the Canadian Alliance of Students Associations’ (CASA) 2020/21 Future Prime Minister award for her strong voice advocating for student issues. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her Blue Heeler named Blue and learning to garden. 




In 2021, Gil McGowan was re-elected to a record ninth two-year term as president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), Alberta’s largest union advocacy organization, representing more than 175,000 workers in both the public and private sectors. McGowan, a father of three, has presided over a period of substantial growth for the AFL and has worked with affiliates, activists and allies to lead successful campaigns to protect public health care, public pensions, public services and worker rights. McGowan has also been instrumental is injecting the labour movement’s perspective into public debates on a wide range of issues, including: reform of the temporary foreign worker program; climate change and green jobs; a $15 minimum wage; pension reform; reforms to the labour code and employment standards; and reforms to occupational health and safety and WCB legislation. Gil also sits on the Canadian Labour Congress’ (CLC) Canadian Council and is also the chairperson of the Sponsor Board for Alberta’s largest pension plan, the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP). 


Jillian Pratt is the Grievance Chair and Presidential candidate for the Non-Academic Staff Association at the University of Alberta. She has been a steward with the union for four years and has worked at the University of Alberta for eight years. In addition to her work with NASA, Jillian is also the President-elect of her professional association, the Alberta Human Ecology and Home Economics Association. Jillian holds an MA in Conflict Analysis and Management and holds a special interest in managing workplace conflict.



Marc Spooner is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. He specializes in qualitative research at the intersections of theory and action on the ground. His interests include audit culture and the effects of neoliberalization and corporatization on higher education; and social justice, activism, and participatory democracy. He has published in many venues, including peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, government reports, and a wide variety of popularizations. Together with colleagues at the University of Regina, he also co-hosts a popular education series that takes place in pubs—not on campus—entitled ‘Talkin’ about School and Society’. He is oftentimes a social/political commentator who can be followed on Twitter here: @drmarcspooner. 





Bradley Lafortune, the Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta, has worked most of his life on Treaty 6 territory in Alberta as an advocate for worker rights and social, economic and environmental justice. Most recently, he has served as the Director of Campaigns for Western Canada at Point Blank Creative, a progressive communications firm promoting and supporting civil society and labour rights.

Bradley previously served as the Chief of Staff to the Minister of Labour for the Alberta New Democrat government, where he helped implement Alberta’s $15 dollar minimum wage in 2018 and set up North America’s first Coal Workforce Transition Fund.

Organizing, advocacy, and political action that centers real stories and builds power are the principles that guide Bradley’s work. He is committed  to building diverse, inclusive, and equitable networks with Public Interest Alberta to help shape our province’s future.

May 27, 2021 at 5:00pm - 6:30pm

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