Professors and academic librarians and archivists at Western University met with Premier Kathleen Wynne on Monday evening, part of the Premier’s tour of Ontario campuses. Faculty leaders welcomed the meeting as an important opportunity to discuss issues facing those who teach and conduct research within the province’s universities.
“We had an in-depth discussion about the rising use of short-term contract faculty, who now constitute almost 40 per cent of those teaching at Western,” said Alison Hearn, President of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA). “We made it clear that this labour model cannot be sustained and a renewed commitment to permanent full-time hiring must be made.”
There is a growing reliance on part-time, contract faculty at Ontario’s universities. Highly trained university teachers who find themselves in precarious academic work face low pay, limited or no access to benefits, and little job security. These working conditions make it difficult for contract faculty to provide the best possible learning experience for students.
“Just as good jobs are the foundation of our economy, so good academic jobs are vital to a high quality university system,” said Kate Lawson, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). “We welcome the Premier’s interest in the issue of precarious academic work, and look forward to working with her government on improving job security, benefits, and pay for these hard working teachers and researchers.”
During the meeting, faculty and librarian representatives also impressed upon the Premier the importance of tenure for teaching and research.
Photo from left to right: Deputy Premier Deb Matthews; CAUT vice-president and UWOFA Board member James Compton; Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Reza Moridi; UWOFA president Alison Hearn; Wynne; UWOFA vice-president Kristin Hoffmann; and Jeff Tennant, UWOFA’s chief negotiator.