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CAPS Strives to Improve Lives, Training and Work Experience
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Joseph S. Sparling

 

CAPS logo

Logo for the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars (CAPS)

The Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars (CAPS) is a not-for-profit organization that represents the interests of Canadian postdocs – a group comprised of approximately 10,000 individuals including all postdoctoral scholars working in Canada (regardless of citizenship or nationality) as well as Canadian citizens and permanent residents working as postdocs abroad.

 

MISSION

The mandate of CAPS is to improve the lives, training, and work experience of all Canadian postdocs. That mandate is guided by a vision of a strong community in which all postdocs are provided fair and reasonable compensation, benefits, rights, privileges, and protections, as well as a supportive social network and effective support, training, and career development opportunities.

 

CAPS works to achieve this vision by:

  1. Providing postdocs with information, resources, and support services to improve their well-being, training, labour conditions, and career development.
  2. Acting as a collective voice for postdocs on issues relevant to postdoctoral policy and labour relations in Canada.
  3. Collecting data from postdocs and external agencies for use in advocating for evidence-based reform in postdoctoral policy at the national, provincial, and institutional levels in Canada.
  4. Providing and/or promoting platforms, tools, and meeting opportunities to facilitate communication among postdocs and maintain a healthy, supportive Canadian postdoctoral community.

MEMBERSHIP

CAPS has a free and open membership policy whereby anyone is welcome to register as a member to gain access to mailing lists. Voting rights are restricted to current Canadian postdocs who are registered as active members of CAPS. However, registration is not required for any current/former postdoc to access the information, resources, and support offered on the CAPS website (www.caps-acsp.ca), to respond to our national surveys (disseminated widely through our extended network), or to contact the executive council with questions about their postdoctoral appointment or general inquiries regarding postdoctoral policy in Canada.

 

ACTIVITIES

For the past decade, CAPS has been the sole organization in Canada dedicated to representing the interests of postdocs and advocating for improved policy and working conditions for postdocs at the national level. With that goal in mind, we conduct the Canadian National Postdoctoral Survey every three to four years and produce a summary report that includes up-to-date policy recommendations based on the data collected in each new survey. To-date, CAPS has produced three such surveys/reports, including one in 2009 (Stanford et al., 2009), 2013 (Mitchell et al., 2013), and 2016 (Jadavji et al., 2016), and collected data from over 5,000 current / former Canadian postdocs. That data serves to guide CAPS’ efforts with respect to the development of services and support for members, as well as our advocacy efforts. Each of our previous reports have increased recognition of the challenges facing postdocs and helped drive improvements in the Canadian postdoctoral training system.

 

The mandate of CAPS is to improve the lives, training, and work experience of all Canadian postdocs. That mandate is guided by a vision of a strong community in which all postdocs are provided fair and reasonable compensation, benefits, rights, privileges, and protections, as well as a supportive social network and effective support, training, and career development opportunities.

 

Our survey data and other input from members enables CAPS to provide meaningful input to government agencies regarding postdoctoral work, training, and funding policies in Canada as well. For example, in the past year, CAPS generated reports for multiple government consultations, including:

The latter of which was a report submitted in response to a consultation request from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which is highly relevant to the many international postdocs working in Canada.

 

In addition to CAPS’ advocacy efforts on behalf of postdocs, we also offer a wide range of information and resources for postdocs and open access to all of our reports and publications about postdoctoral working conditions and policies in Canada on our website. We also recently began offering National Health/Dental Insurance Plans and discount Home and Auto Insurance to ‘Contributing Members’ (i.e., members who pay a small fee to support the association) and holding webinars on a variety of topics including career development for members .

 

NPA PARTNERSHIP

CAPS is proud to partner with the NPA to provide a unified voice for postdoctoral scholars working in North America. As part of this partnership, CAPS and the NPA promote each other’s events, initiatives, and resources, helping to create a larger postdoctoral community and draw attention to the common issues facing postdocs in Canada and the United States. We look forward to possibly expanding this partnership to include more collaborative work in the future.

 

FUTURE PLANS IN BRIEF

In the past year, CAPS has significantly increased our engagement with the Canadian federal government, particularly on the topic of implementing employee status for all postdocs working in Canada to ensure equal access to employee benefits and pension plans regardless of the source of one’s salary/stipend. We plan to continue pressing this issue in the new year, via reports and petitions to federal ministries and agencies. As part of that plan we will also be conducting another national survey, the results of which we hope to release prior to the end of 2019. We strongly encourage all members of the NPA who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents to participate in the upcoming 2019 survey, which will be advertised to NPA members once it opens. We also invite anyone interested in Canadian postdoctoral opportunities and/or policies to join our email lists by registering for free as a member of CAPS.

 

For more information, feel free to contact the CAPS executive council directly at communications@caps-acsp.ca or visit our website or social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

 

Joseph S. Sparling, PhD is the chair of the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars/Association Canadienne des Stagiaires Post-doctoraux

 

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