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Twitter day of action to support fairness for contract faculty

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On March 3, faculty, students, staff, and concerned citizens from across Ontario will engage in a day of action on Twitter to raise awareness about the need for fairness for contract faculty. This work will build on the momentum generated during last fall’s Fair Employment Week.

Throughout the day, university and college community members will be invited to send their Boards of Governors a message about their priorities for the institution, including improving contract faculty working conditions and the quality of education offered to students.

All faculty members at Ontario universities are invited to participate! For more information, contact your faculty association or OCUFA’s Engagement and Campaigns Coordinator .

Others who want to join in the fun should make sure they use the hashtags #OurUniversity or #OurCollege, and #Fairness4CF.

Algoma University doesn’t reach agreement with contract faculty

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Contract faculty at Algoma University are one step closer to a strike after a long day of conciliation failed to result in an agreement. While frustrating for those working hard at the bargaining table, recent events have shown that Algoma’s contract faculty are organized and the public is on their side.

In advance of the conciliation session, faculty, students, staff, and community members showed their support for Algoma’s contract faculty by sending over 293 letters to the university’s President and the Chair of the Board of Governors. The letter demands the university avoid a strike by providing contract faculty with a fair deal. To send your own letter of support, click here.

The local Labour Council showed its solidarity by meeting with contract faculty and making it clear that the workers in Sault Ste. Marie would stand with faculty if job action is necessary. Contract faculty representatives also met and briefed local provincial candidates for the NDP and Conservatives, both of whom expressed a desire to see a deal reached and a strike averted.

Despite a blizzard, contact faculty and students leafleted together in support of Sault Ste. Marie’s part-time library staff. Precarious workers, regardless of sector, are standing together in the struggle for better working conditions and good jobs. Even students understand that, by standing up for workers’ rights now, they are improving their chances of a having a good job when they graduate.

With the support of the community, and a strong, principled position at the bargaining table, contract faculty at Algoma are prepared to walk of the job unless the university meets their fair and reasonable demands.

For more information and media coverage about the great work Algoma’s contract faculty have been doing, see the links below.

Queen’s professor honoured with Lorimer Award for outstanding work on behalf of Ontario’s faculty

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TORONTO – Allan Manson, a retired professor from Queen’s University, has won the 2016 Lorimer Award, presented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA)

This honour recognizes individuals who have worked to protect and promote the interests of Ontario’s academic staff through collective bargaining.

“Allan’s tireless persistence, sense of fairness, and commitment to improving the lives of his fellow members not only gave the Queen’s University Faculty Association its first collective agreement, it built a foundation for decades of progressive organizing,” said Judy Bates, President of OCUFA. “He has a remarkable understanding of the importance of strong member communication and campus solidarity.”

The Lorimer Award was established in honour of Doug and Joyce Lorimer, who were instrumental in advancing faculty association collective bargaining in Ontario. Winners of the award all share the Lorimers’ commitment to advancing Ontario’s university system through strong faculty associations and fair collective agreements.

In his time at the Queen’s University Faculty Association, Professor Manson was the Chief Negotiator of four collective agreements and, through his work at the bargaining table, solidified a constructive relationship between the university administration and the faculty association.

“OCUFA is extremely proud to recognize the exceptional individuals whose work as part of the bargaining process improves the working conditions of professors and academic librarians,” said Bates. “High quality education and vibrant campus communities are built on the foundations established by these collective agreements. Through the Lorimer Award, we recognize the outstanding contribution and leadership of those who work tirelessly to ensure faculty have the protections and resources they need to thrive.”

Professor Manson will receive his award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 11, 2017. 

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 28 faculty associations across Ontario.  For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at


For more information, contact:

 Ben Lewis, Communications Lead at 416-979-2117 x232 or


Mark Rosenfeld, Executive Director at 416-979-2117 x229 or

Brescia professor wins OCUFA’s Award of Distinction for improving working conditions for academic women

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TORONTO—Helene Cummins, an associate professor at Brescia University College, has won the 2016 Status of Women Award of Distinction, presented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA).

The award, sponsored by OCUFA’s Status of Women Committee, recognizes women who have improved the lives and working conditions of academic women and, by extension, their colleagues, families, and communities.

“Helene has been a beacon of leadership for academic women at Brescia University College and across Ontario,” said Melissa Jean, President of the Brescia Faculty Association. “She has been a consistent, strong, and supportive voice, with a deep understanding of the historic and current issues faced by working women in the province.”

Professor Cummins has been a vocal and inspiring voice in her community. When Brescia’s internal governing council considered eliminating the institution’s Equity Committee in 2015-16, she rallied faculty and staff to convince the council of the committee’s critical importance. As Chair of OCUFA’s Status of Women Committee, Professor Cummins travelled across Ontario to hear from women about their experiences working in the academic profession. Drawing on this experience, she worked tirelessly to educate faculty associations and universities about the persistent inequities that women in the academy continue to face and to identify solutions to address these challenges.

“OCUFA is committed to advancing and protecting the personal, professional and academic interests of women in the academy,” said Judy Bates, President of OCUFA. “That is why we are so thankful for Helene Cummins’ leadership, and so proud to present her with this honor for her exceptional commitment and contributions to the struggle for equity.”

Professor Cummins will receive her award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 11, 2017.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 28 faculty associations across Ontario.  For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at


For more information, contact:

 Ben Lewis, Communications Lead at 416-979-2117 x232 or


Mark Rosenfeld, Executive Director at 416-979-2117 x229 or

Call for submissions: 44th Annual OCUFA Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards

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OCUFA is proud to celebrate outstanding achievement in teaching and academic librarianship at Ontario universities. Anyone within the university community can nominate a faculty member or librarian.

Award recipients are selected by an independent OCUFA committee made up of faculty, librarians, and student representatives.

Deadline for nominations for 2016-2017 awards: May 26, 2017.

Please submit your nomination through OCUFA’s secured online submission system as a single PDF file.

Upcoming events will build faculty solidarity

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Did you know that OCUFA has a contract faculty and faculty complement committee?

The goal of the committee is to develop solidarity between tenured faculty and contract faculty. We face so many challenges on our campuses, including issues of governance, equity, and the terms and conditions of employment. These problems cannot be solved in isolation – they require all faculty to work together in solidarity.

The committee formed in 2014. A year later, awareness of contract faculty issues increased dramatically with strikes at both the University of Toronto and York University, which saw over 10,000 teaching assistants and contract faculty walk off the job. In 2016, OCUFA held an international conference on precarious academic labor, leading the way and highlighting new scholarship in this area.

This year, the committee is focused on supporting events on several campuses. The objective is to bring together tenured and contract faculty for a mixture of advocacy, awareness building, and fun. The events will feature a comedian, music, as well the type of conversation that will help develop networks on campus and build greater solidarity within the faculty association.

Help avert a strike at Algoma University

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Part-time and contract faculty at Algoma University are currently working hard to negotiate a fair deal. They are asking for simple things that all universities should provide: fair hiring, fair evaluation and fair pay.

Conciliation starts on Tuesday, February 7th. That is the last chance to reach a deal and avert a strike. You can help by completing the form below, which sends a letter to the Algoma University President, Dr. Celia Ross, and the Chair of the Board of Directors, Asima Vezina, telling them that contract faculty deserve a fair deal.

OCUFA condemns acts of Islamophobia and racism

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The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) stands in solidarity with refugees, immigrants, and all communities targeted by acts of violence and intolerance. OCUFA is deeply saddened by the attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec and extends condolences to the victims, families, and communities suffering in the aftermath of this hate crime.

In response to this act of senseless brutality in Quebec City, and the misguided and discriminatory actions taken by the US government under President Trump, it is crucial that we stand together and condemn all forms of hate, racism, and Islamophobia. We must safeguard the rights of those who are persecuted.

We urge the U.S. government to rescind immediately the discriminatory bans on entry to the United States for people from seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as on Syrian and other refugees. Like the Canadian Association of University Teachers, we are also asking the academic community to sign the AAUP petition against the Trump administration’s ban.

By restricting the movement of scholars, the US government is compromising academic freedom and damaging the fabric of international collaboration that is so important to the pursuit of knowledge.

The university community must be one of diversity and inclusivity. Our campuses should be vibrant spaces where faculty, students, and staff from all backgrounds develop a deeper understanding of the world we live in, and work together to make it a better place.

While some may attempt to spread fear and anxiety, Ontario’s faculty will continue to foster compassionate, welcoming campus communities, and speak out in support of inclusiveness and human rights.

What the Executive Compensation Framework means for universities

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Since 2012, following amendments to the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, compensation for executives at broader public sector institutions have been “frozen”. In September 2016, the new Executive Compensation Framework Regulation came into effect, lifting the freeze. The Framework allows broader public sector institutions to increase compensation for executives, but puts in place requirements designed to improve the accountability and transparency of the process by which compensation is determined. At postsecondary institutions, this framework applies to university and college presidents, vice-presidents, as well as certain other senior positions.

Framework details

The framework requires university boards of governors to justify proposed increases in executive compensation by:

  • Developing a philosophy that explains how their compensation program is designed to support the university in achieving its operating goals and strategic objectives;
  • Conducting an analysis of the compensation currently provided to executives at comparable institutions, with the understanding that comparator institutions should fulfill a similar purpose, have similar student enrolment, be located in similar regions, and that the positions compared should have similar responsibilities; and
  • Detailing the total compensation and performance-related pay proposed for each position based on comparable positions and salaries.

The details of how executive compensation will be set at each institution have to be posted on the university’s website for 30 days to allow for members of the university community and general public to be informed about the proposed changes. The university is also responsible for developing a process by which public feedback is collected, evaluated, and retained for evaluation by the government.

All public sector institutions, including universities, are required to post this completed package of information to their website by September 5, 2017.

Recent developments

Ontario’s colleges have released their proposals for executive compensation in the college sector, and the numbers were astounding. Colleges are proposing that they should be able to increase the already high salaries of their presidents by an average of 32 per cent (in many cases, a raise of over $100,000 per year).

How did this happen? As the Executive Compensation Framework currently exists, there are few restrictions on how governing boards select comparable positions, so they are able to cherry-pick comparators to maximize executive salaries. For instance, Seneca College chose the University of Guelph and York University as comparators while Algonquin College chose several large hospitals, the LCBO, and Toronto Pearson International Airport.

OCUFA’s position

OCUFA has been concerned about the excessive compensation that some senior university executives receive and the often opaque processes by which these compensation packages have been determined in the past. While this new Executive Compensation Framework may increase the transparency of the process, OCUFA is alarmed by the amount by which Ontario’s colleges are proposing to increase their presidents’ salaries and the precedent that might set for university executives. It raises serious concerns about the effectiveness of the Framework for ensuring reasonable salaries for Ontario’s university executives.

It will be important for faculty associations to pay close attention to the executive compensation proposals brought forward by their universities and actively engage in the consultations. The additional transparency required by the new framework is a good first step. However, meaningful community consultation that sees governing boards take action on issues of executive compensation and executive hiring practices, will also be critical to ensuring good governance of the province’s postsecondary institutions.

The guide for the Executive Compensation Framework is available online.

This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.

Preserving the quality of university education in Ontario: OCUFA’s recommendations for the 2017 Ontario Budget

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OCUFA has set out its priorities for the 2017 Ontario Budget in a written submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Preserving the quality of university education in Ontario provides a vision for postsecondary education founded on a strong, comprehensive system of public funding that is accessible, high quality, and provides good jobs.

Ontario’s universities currently receive the lowest level of public per-student funding in Canada, are not hiring full-time faculty at the rate necessary to keep pace with student enrolment, and have the highest student-faculty ratios in the country.

OCUFA’s recommendations to the Standing Committee include:

  • Increasing per-student funding for Ontario’s universities to match the average for the rest of Canada;
  • Making a commitment to supporting faculty renewal, including full-time faculty hiring that brings Ontario’s student-faculty ratio in line with the rest of Canada and replacing retiring faculty with tenure-stream positions;
  • Ensuring fairness for contract faculty by strengthening employment and labour laws;
  • Rejecting the use of punitive performance-based funding in the renewed university funding model; and
  • Establishing a new higher education data agency to collect, analyze, and disseminate key information on Ontario’s universities.

The full submission can be downloaded here.

Contract faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University reach tentative agreement

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Following months of bargaining, the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty association has reached a tentative agreement with contract faculty at the university. The terms of the agreement are currently being put to a ratification vote.

The deal comes after months of bargaining, and a strike vote in which contract faculty voted 95% in favour of walking off the job if a tentative agreement could not be reached with the university administration. Following the strike vote, the association began the important work of organizing for job action in order to put more pressure on their employer.

In December, representatives of the Canadian Association of University Teachers held a workshop on campus to train a packed room of contract faculty on important strategies for messaging, working with the media, and building solidarity with other members of the campus community.

As talks with the administration continued, dozens of faculty volunteers were identified and organized to serve as picket captains and take on other critical strike duties. With a solid core of their members organized, the faculty association was prepared to walk off the job if the time came.

On January 4th, the strike office opened, with members of the community, media, and local politicians all invited to come and learn more about the critical issues at stake. MPPs Catherine Fife and Peggy Sattler both attended and noted their strong support for the concerns of contract faculty around precarious employment and the need to be fairly compensated for their work.

Less than 48 hours later, a tentative agreement was reached with the employer demonstrating just how important it is to being prepared and organized, not just at the bargaining table, but on the ground.

OCUFA presents priorities for 2017 Ontario Budget as part of Ministry of Finance consultations

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On Monday, January 9, OCUFA president Judy Bates presented the priorities and concerns of Ontario’s university faculty to representatives of the Ministry of Finance as part of the Ontario government’s pre-budget consultations.

Bates highlighted the need to ensure that Ontario’s universities provide a high quality learning experience adequately resourced through robust public financial support. Currently, Ontario universities receive the lowest level of per-student funding in Canada and have the worst student-to-faculty ratios.

For Ontario’s universities to thrive, the government should invest in hiring more full-time faculty to close the gap in student-to-faculty ratios and reduce institutional dependence on precarious contract faculty positions.

Faculty voices on the 2017 Ontario Budget will be heard again on January 19 when Bates presents to the government’s all-party Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

Ontario government releases update on redesign of funding formula and Strategic Mandate Agreements

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Today the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development released an update on the redesign of the university funding formula together with an update on the next round of Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMAs) to be negotiated in 2017. The Ministry also announced a two-year extension to the existing cap on tuition fees while it consults with post-secondary institutions and students.

Under the tuition framework extension, the government will maintain its current policy of capping average tuition fee increases at a maximum of three per cent per year for the next two years. OCUFA is encouraged that the Ministry has chosen to consult with students on changes to the tuition fee framework, and has supported the government’s improvements to the Ontario Student Assistant Program designed to address affordability concerns for students from low and middle income families. We have nonetheless expressed concerns about rising tuition fees and stagnating levels of public funding.  Accessible post-secondary education is important to ensuring that all qualified and interested students are able to attain a high quality post-secondary education regardless of financial means.

With the updated funding formula, the government will be shifting focus from growth to “high-quality student outcomes.” It has stated that the new formula will provide funding protection for enrolment declines, but will not necessarily provide funding for enrolment growth. Additionally, the new formula will provide specific funding to support differentiation for each institution.

OCUFA is pleased that the government will provide funding protection for enrolment declines, but has particular concerns about the government’s intent to focus on “accountable outcomes” as part of its plan to fund differentiation.

As has been communicated previously, OCUFA is opposed to the expansion of punitive performance based funding in any new funding model. With performance funding, a portion of the government’s funding for individual institutions would be dependent on the institution’s ability to meet a set of targets. Efforts to assess performance on something as complex as the quality of student outcomes often fall back to using the most accessible measurement criteria available, even when these criteria do not capture quality in any meaningful way. There is a real danger associated with allocating funding in this way.

Given the many questions, concerns, and lack of detail about how the differentiation portion of the new funding model would be implemented and accountable outcomes measured, OCUFA has recommended that the phase-in of this portion of the new funding model be delayed until the important work of clarifying its goals and implementation is completed.

Negotiation of the next round of SMAs will be led by Bonnie Patterson, former President of the Council of Ontario Universities and Trent University, who will serve as the government’s representative in negotiations with universities. Further details of the SMA negotiation process have yet to be announced.

In the new year, the Ministry will be organizing a meeting with universities and colleges to provide more details on allocation mechanisms, reporting tools, templates, and timelines for the roll out of the new funding formula. As these details become available, OCUFA will provide additional information and a more comprehensive analysis of the impact that these changes will have on faculty and the quality of education in Ontario’s universities.

Your opinion matters

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OCUFA’s journal of higher education, Academic Matters, is now entering its 11th year of publication and has changed significantly over this period. The views of our readers are important in guiding the future development of the magazine and website.

With that in mind, we created a survey to get a better idea of how our readers feel about the editorial content, look, and layout of the Academic Matters magazine and website. Are the magazine and website enjoyable and relevant? What type of issues, articles, commentaries, and discussions would you like to see in the future?

If you are a reader of Academic Matters, please take a few moments to complete the survey here.

Those who participate will be entered in a draw to win one of two Kindle Paperwhite e-readers with wi-fi.

The deadline for completing the survey is December 23, 2016. All individual survey responses will be kept strictly confidential and used only to develop a general reader profile. Responses will not be shared with any third party.

New issue of Academic Matters examines issues of sexual violence on campus

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The latest issue of Academic Matters – now available online – examines  issues of sexual violence on campus, with a focus on the Government of Ontario’s action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment. Set to go into effect in January, 2017, new legislation will require all colleges and universities in the province to adopt a sexual violence policy with input from students.

This issue takes a hard look at the challenges of putting an end to sexual violence in our postsecondary institutions and makes suggestions for how we can move forward. It features several insightful articles:

Academic Matters is always available at, alongside web exclusives, blog posts, and more! The print Winter 2017 issue will be hitting faculty mailboxes across Ontario soon, so keep an eye out for your copy.