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Postdoctoral Scholar

My current funding is not enough to cover my expenses and I have to use my small amount of savings to pay bills. I have decreased my food intake and can not afford things like new shoes (mine have holes in the soles) or a rain jacket. I have one kid and it is incredibly stressful to think about food and clothing for him. Often my food is just leftovers from his portion. Because of my poor income, I cannot entertain the idea of having any more children. The average age of postdocs in Canada is 34 - the current funding is totally incompatible with children unless there is family to subsidize the academic income. This is an equity issue.

I make less than my family members who have no degree and work 30 hours a week. It is EMBARRASSING to tell people what I do and what I make. I also have to miss many family events because I'm expected to work constantly and can't afford to join my family.

I have many international colleagues who refused to come to Canada simply because the pay is so low!

If postdoctoral funding was CAD $60,000/yr for all postdocs, how would that change your life? $60,000 for postdocs is an improvement but is still so low compared to other jobs. This perpetuates equity issues in academia. My current pay is $60,000 and it doesn't cover expenses since I had to move to a big city for a "prestigious" postdoc to be a competitive candidate for a faculty position. When I speak to postdocs and people on selection committees, I am told that many people are postdocs for 5-7 years before "getting a job". Aren't we doing a job already?! It is not sustainable to expect people to live off poor wages for so long while in their 30s. Research shows that postdocs never recover financially.

When postdoc fellowships were first established, they were tax exempt. In 2010 the CRA made them taxable but the funding was never increased to accommodate this. As a postdoc, I make much less than as a PhD student but paid $7000 to move across the country and work more. Finally, I will say that starving and stressed people do NOT have the mental capacity to do good science!

Additional comments: We all understand (although I will question this) that we aren't expected to be financially incentivized to do research for the public good but the financial disincentive needs to be minimized if you truly want to support science. This is, afterall, a public service that we make our jobs and our hobbies.


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