OCUFA has been working on a variety of initiatives at Queen’s Park. In September, the legislature resumed and MPP Peggy Sattler, the NDP critic for Training, Colleges and Universities, brought the issues of senior university administration salaries to the legislature, following recent high-profile cases of high and inappropriate compensation. Sattler raised the issue in Question Period, and introduced a bill that would restrict compensation to senior administrators for foregoing administrative leave.
New Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown successfully contested the by-election in Simcoe North and took up his seat in the House. Brown is also the PC caucus’ new critic for Training, Colleges and Universities. Former MPP Garfield Dunlop will continue to work with him in an advisory role. OCUFA is currently organizing a meeting with Brown to discuss our priorities and his interests in the sector.
We are also waiting for the report of the University Funding Formula Review. OCUFA submitted its recommendations to the review on September 1, 2015, arguing for a student-centred funding model, for a new data system for Ontario’s higher education sector, and against the use of punitive performance funding measures. Since we submitted our recommednations, the former President of Ryerson University, Sheldon Levy, has been appointed the new Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities. The release of the funding formula review report will likely be released after Levy has a chance to settle into his new role.
Overall, the provincial government remains committed to differentiation and playing a renewed “stewardship” role in the sector – although exactly how it hopes to achieve a more directive role in university planning and governance remains unclear. Further, with no new investments in higher education in the 2015 Ontario Budget, faculty concerns about the government’s potential desire to constrain costs underlie OCUFA’s current advocacy with government.