On June 3, Bill 276, Supporting Recovering and Competitiveness Act, an omnibus bill that included two schedules regarding the independence of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and Université de Hearst received royal ascent. With the legislation now in effect, NOSM and Université de Hearst have become independent, degree granting universities.
From its inception, NOSM has been affiliated with Lakehead University and Laurentian University. The sudden change to the status of NOSM was announced by the government with no prior consultation with the faculty, staff, students, and, to a large extent, administrators of the institutions involved. OCUFA has been vocal about our concerns with the lack of consultation by the government and the inappropriate and rushed process for a decision of this magnitude.
In the initial version of the bill, the proposed NOSM Act, unlike other public university acts in Ontario, did not include any provisions regarding the composition or powers and duties of the Board of Governors and Senate. Instead, all these matters were left to ministerial regulations. This was concerning, as the basics of university governance and autonomy were unspecified and potentially threatened.
The Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee of General Government held three days of public hearings on the bill, where concerns regarding the lack of governance provisions as well the expansive list of items included under the regulatory powers section in the NOSM Act were brought forward by multiple parties, including OCUFA and the NOSM Faculty and Staff Association. Following the hearings, the government introduced three amendments to Schedule 16 of the bill (NOSM Act) whereby more detailed language was added to the Act on the composition of Board and Senate as well as transition provisions for the current Board and Academic Council. The final version of the legislation includes these amended provisions.
The amended legislation represents a step in the right direction but remains inadequate and still does not address major concerns about the lack of clarity around governance and the expansive powers granted to the Minister of Colleges and Universities.
You can read the full text of the legislation here.