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November 30, 2020

The Age of Sustainability

In a recent global lecture on climate change, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged G20 countries to consider climate-positive actions as they plan economic recoveries from the COVID-19 pandemic, calling the recovery period a “make-or-break moment” for the health of the planet. “We have a narrow window,” he said, “but a vast opportunity to rebuild a world that is cleaner, fairer, and safer for all.” Now is the time for global governments to make dramatic commitments to usher in an Age of Sustainability.

Fast-forward to just over a week ago when Canada joined over 120 countries in committing to net-zero emissions – where any and all greenhouse gas emissions are completely offset by actions that remove climate-warming gasses from the atmosphere – by 2050. If passed, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, known as Bill C-12, would require the federal government to set five-year emissions-reduction targets over the next 30 years and legally bind itself to a process whereby Canada would achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This long-awaited delivery on a 2019 campaign promise is essential to keeping the world safe and livable for future generations, and Canada’s colleges and institutes are well-placed to support its targets.

“The revolution will be retrofitted.”

In the final report of its Task Force for a Resilient Recovery, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Canada’s independent sustainability-focused think tank, highlighted five “bold moves” the government should be looking at to ensure a sustainable, prosperous path forward after COVID-19. Investments in energy-efficient infrastructure stood out at the top of the list.

  • Our 2019 Infrastructure Survey showed that CICan members currently have over 300 shovel-ready projects valued at over $3.5 billion, 62% of which identified energy efficiency and green infrastructure as the main priority.

Investing in post-secondary infrastructure upgrades and retrofits will provide stimulus to get Canadians back to work while boosting the capacity of colleges to meet the skills-development needs of employers, support innovation through applied research, and reboot an inclusive, sustainable economy. In our submission to pre-budget consultations, we recommended:

  • A $5-billion investment in college and institute infrastructure to make campuses more sustainable, advance innovation, and improve learning spaces for Indigenous students; and,
  • A $50-million investment in a national network of sustainability offices that will empower institutions to collaborate with partners to build zero-carbon, diverse, and resilient communities.

On supporting a green recovery

As we look forward to a new year, a new federal budget, and further details of a federal plan to support Canadian businesses contributing a net-zero economy, our recent publications highlight how colleges and institutes continue to lead clean growth:

Sustainability is one of the most important challenges and biggest economic opportunities of our age. Canada’s colleges and institutes show us how growing the economy and protecting the environment can – and do – go hand in hand.

Hacking education in a digital world

In the current global pandemic, institutions have been faced with both a challenge to adapt and an opportunity to re-evaluate their approaches to teaching and learning. In last week’s episode of our new Perspectives LIVE series, we looked at the ways colleges and institutes can transform learning options to provide better access to postsecondary education for all Canadians in the context of a pandemic, and how the success of the transformation can be measured.

Thank you to our fantastic co-hosts, Lethbridge College president and chair of our Board of Directors Paula Burns and Andrew Beattie, as well as our speakers: First Nations Technical Institute president Suzanne Katsi’tsiarihshion Brant, Canadian Digital Learning Research Association research director Nicole Johnson, and Royal Roads University professor George VeletsianosWatch a recording of the episode on our YouTube channel.

On December 9, we’ll be getting more perspectives on moving learning online in a digital world with another set of speakers in our next French-language episode: Reconcevoir l’éducation dans un monde numériqueRegister for free and add it to your calendars!

IRCC lists DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans

For institutions welcoming international students, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continues to update its list of designated learning institutions (DLIs) with approved COVID-19 readiness plans.

As always, we continue to work with IRCC, other government departments and stakeholders to advocate on your behalf.

Future Skills Council report recommends five priorities for inclusive growth

Last week Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough, on behalf of the Future Skills Council, shared the result of a two-year-long collaboration setting an ambitious vision for a thriving and dynamic workforce where everyone has a chance to succeed!

The Council’s final report, “Canada – A Learning Nation,” identifies five priority areas for building a country that supports ongoing learning, and proposes concrete areas for action, including: helping Canadians make informed choices, equality of opportunity for life-long learning, skills development to support Indigenous self-determination, innovative approaches to skills development and validation; and skills development for sustainable futures.

One of 15 members of the Council, CICan president and CEO Denise Amyot welcomed the report and its recommendations as a call to action for continued collaboration to ensure that all Canadians can fully embrace the rapidly evolving world of work. Holland College president and chair of Atlantic Colleges Atlantique Sandy MacDonald also sits on the Council.

Reimagine learning and education with the Open Innovation Challenge

In the midst of an unprecedented year, Sheridan College has just launched a challenge to inspire individuals and organizations to address the pressing issues of equitable access to education and the role learning plays in our capacity to deal with complex social, economic, and environmental challenges!

With the Open Innovation Challenge, Sheridan College is hoping to catalyze change in learning and education, and wants to engage participants and community partners to facilitate brainstorming, dialogue, ideation, and meaningful action on the following question:

How might we collaborate within our communities to reimagine learning and education so that no one is left behind and all youth and adults can realize their full potential?

A challenge that requires your voice, experience, and ideas! More than $60,000 in cash prizes are available for participants whose contributions are selected as exceptionally innovative and impactful. Learn more and take part.

Showcase your institution in the next Globe and Mail special feature

Colleges and institutes across the country have an essential role to play in Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by helping unemployed Canadians update their skills and supporting local SMEs to adapt their businesses and products. To showcase their role, we are partnering with the Globe and Mail to prepare a new special feature on colleges and institutes!

Highlight your institution’s efforts to support student success, maximize learning and employment opportunities, and positively impact their communities in these challenging times. The feature will be published on February 26, 2021.

View the PDF overview of the project for details and deadlines. Special print, digital and social packages are available for CICan members and partners. Connect with Richard Deacon, National Business Development Manager at for more information.

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) has been working on a project to link remote communities to necessary and urgent health services through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles? Through the joint research project lead by SAIT’s Centre for Innovation and Research in Unmanned Systems, the team is using remotely-piloted drones to deliver medical equipment and COVID-19 test kits to remote areas of the province, connecting those communities to labs more efficiently!


Dawson College appointed Diane Gauvin as its new Director General. With 23 years of experience at Dawson College, Gauvin will lead a bold new vision for the college, beginning a five-year term on January 1.

Native Education College in Vancouver appointed Tammy Harkey as its new president. Harkey has more than 25 years of senior administrative experience in the areas of curriculum, governance, and leadership.


Submit a nomination for CICan’s Awards of ExcellenceDeadline: December 6.

Submit a presentation for our upcoming Connection Conference: Changing Narratives! Deadline: December 21.

Stay safe and healthy on campus. Download the COVID Alert app.

Send Us Your News

One of our main goals at Colleges and Institutes Canada is to champion and share the innovations and awesomeness of our members. You can help! We want to hear about your new applied research, industry and community partnerships, international education, important financial investments and more. Add to your media mailing lists! We’ll share member institution News Releases and other upcoming announcements online and with our national media contacts based in Ottawa.