OCUFA sets priorities for year of provincial election

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Meeting and resolutions

The pandemic may continue, but at its Board Meeting on October 23 OCUFA set its sights on the 2022 provincial election and the goal of electing a government committed to supporting high-quality, public postsecondary education in Ontario.

Good jobs for all

Since the last election, the Ford government has repealed large parts of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act and introduced wage restraint legislation under Bill 124. Combined with various other anti-worker policies, this government has demonstrated that it is not interested in protecting or bolstering good jobs. As a result, it is incumbent on OCUFA to double our efforts to make the sector a more equitable place to work and study for faculty and academic librarians in tenured, tenure-stream, and contract positions—especially given the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public universities for all

OCUFA believes that the value of public university is far-reaching. Universities produce cutting edge research that impacts every aspect of our daily lives, including public health and safety, public policy, and addressing the structural barriers that drive inequality. It is imperative to promote the value of universities widely and protect the public nature of Ontario’s university system. This includes advocating for equitable access to university education, speaking out against performance-based funding, opposing privatization and the growth of private universities and degree granting institutions (including the Canada Christian College), and maintaining adequate funding to ensure that the financial crisis that unfolded at Laurentian University does not repeat itself anywhere else.

Re-engage, build capacity, and mobilize

With a provincial election on the horizon, it is important that we work together to build stronger campus communities capable of shaping the higher education platforms of Ontario’s political parties. The success of academic staff associations is grounded in the strength we bring as a collective force, a form of strength we see exercised across the labour movement. History demonstrates that working together we can solve the biggest problems facing the sector, such as precarious work, chronic underfunding, non-transparent and non-accountable governance structures, and the inequitable treatment of faculty, students, and staff.

Meeting highlights

Creation of standing Contract Faculty Committee

In recognition of the ongoing insecurities and inequities faced by contract faculty and academic librarians, OCUFA members voted to establish a Contract Faculty Committee, which will replace the former ad-hoc Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee. This committee will be charged with providing direction on ideas and initiatives to: promote good terms and conditions of work for contract faculty and all faculty members; address issues including precarious work, job security, workload, and the balance between teaching and research; build solidarity between tenure-stream and contract faculty.

Presentation from the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario

The meeting featured a presentation by the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. The presentation highlighted the election priorities that students will be putting forward in the upcoming election, including advocating for increased postsecondary education funding and lower tuition fees.

COVID-19 and the fall 2021 term

OCUFA members discussed the challenges they have been facing in the latest phase of the pandemic. While many campuses continued to offer classes remotely, others started to bring more classes and students onto campus. Over the summer, the provincial government introduced the requirement for vaccine mandates and recklessly removed requirements for capacity limits and physical distancing on campuses. These issues and their implication for faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals were discussed with great interest.

Support for UOITFA

In a moment of solidarity, OCUFA members from across Ontario took a moment to show their support for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association, which represents faculty at Ontario Tech who are in bargaining and recently voted 90 per cent in favour of striking as part of their efforts to get a fair deal. This is a crucial moment for the UOITFA. You can show your support by sending an email to the Ontario Tech administration that asks them to negotiate a fair deal that prioritizes high-quality education and helps avoid a strike at Ontario Tech: https://www.uoitfa.ca/take-action/

Celebrating excellence in teaching

During a special lunchtime ceremony, meeting participants were treated to a video celebrating the recipients of this year’s Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards. Since 1973, these awards have recognized the exceptional contributions professors and academic librarians have made to the quality of higher education in Ontario. You can watch the video here.

The next OCUFA Board of Directors meeting will be held on February 26, 2022.

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