The Council of Universities (COU) recently released the latest report from its Faculty at Work project. The Composition and Activities of Ontario Universities’ Academic Workforce updates and extends the Preliminary Report released in 2014 to include a focus on the composition of the academic workforce. It constitutes the first serious effort to use administrative data to produce a picture of the numbers of contract faculty employed at Ontario’s universities, and the scope of their teaching.
OCUFA’s response highlights several limitations of the data, as well as concerns regarding the framing of results and the overall narrative of the COU report. Most significantly, the data collected in the report confirms that the majority of the academic workforce in Ontario universities are now precariously employed, further validating what OCUFA and many others in the sector have been stating for a number of years. However, the report itself glosses over this key finding. In an attempt to undermine the gravity of rising precarity in the university sector, the COU attempts to shift the focus away from the need to address precarious work by making assumptions that many contract faculty lack the qualifications or aspirations for more permanent employment.
With the passage of Bill 148 and the recent college faculty strike, the issue of precarity in the postsecondary education sector is very much on the agenda in the province. In order to continue to make progress towards fairness for contract faculty, it is vital to challenge any efforts to normalize or minimize the impacts of the increasingly precarious conditions of work at Ontario universities.
For any feedback or questions regarding the COU report or the OCUFA response, please contact Mina Rajabi in the OCUFA office: firstname.lastname@example.org.