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You’re invited to Worldviews 2020 – The Myth of Meritocracy: From satire to social inequality

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On April 7th, 2020, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and the Centre for the Study of Canadian International Higher Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto will be hosting the sixth annual Worldviews Lecture on Media and Higher Education.

The Myth of Meritocracy:
From satire to social inequality

Speaker: Professor Jo Littler

Date and time: Tuesday, April 7, 2020, 7–9pm
Location: YWCA Toronto, 87 Elm Street, Toronto
Registration: This is a free public event but advance registration is required.

The concept of meritocracy suggests that anyone can ascend the social and economic ladder if they work hard enough, regardless of their social position. This rather ambitious claim originated as a satirical take on social mobility in the 1950’s.

And yet meritocracy is now embedded at the heart of our economic, social, cultural, and academic institutions in a way that obscures the role meritocracy plays in social exclusion.

This year’s Worldviews lecture will attempt to make meritocracy satire again.

The evening will open with a talk by Professor Jo Littler of City, University of London and author of Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility. Her talk will be followed by a conversation with a dynamic panel of experts and academics, featuring Rupa Banerjee, Carl James, and Wayne Lewchuk.

The discussion, moderated by Trish Hennessy, will explore the ways merit creates social and economic barriers and address its intersections with class, race, gender, and immigration status.

The event is free and open to the public but registration is required. We hope you will join us for what promises to be an engaging conversation, and will continue the discussion afterwards at a special reception courtesy of Goldblatt Partners.

For more information and to register, please visit: https://worldviewsconference.com

Call for submissions: 2019-2020 Annual OCUFA Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards

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Each year, OCUFA is proud to celebrate outstanding achievement in teaching and academic librarianship at Ontario universities. Through the Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards, we recognize those individuals whose pedagogical leadership and support have made a positive and enduring difference to their students and colleagues.

Anyone within the university community can nominate a faculty member or academic librarian for an award, so long as the nominee is a member of an OCUFA affiliated faculty association. For the first time, this year’s award guidelines include special nomination criteria for contract faculty to facilitate the nomination of historically marginalized members of the academy. Award recipients are selected by an independent OCUFA committee made up of faculty, librarians, and student representatives.

This year, the deadline for nominations is May 22, 2020. Guidelines for the award can be found here:

Nomination packages should be saved as a single pdf file and submitted online at: https://ocufa.on.ca/awards_application/

Solidarity with Ontario’s teachers and education workers during today’s province-wide strike

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OCUFA’s 17,000 university faculty and academic librarians stand in solidarity with the province’s 200,000 elementary and secondary school educators and support staff in their historic, one-day province-wide strike.

Ontario’s educators are leading the fight against the Ford government’s cuts and austerity measures that target the most marginalized in our province.

As faculty and academic librarians who work at every university in the province, we know first hand that maintaining the quality and accessibility of Ontario’s education system is essential for building an equitable and just society.

We call on the Ford government to get back to the bargaining table and grant teachers and support staff the fair deal they deserve.

Educators in Ontario, we stand with you. Thank you for defending public education in our province.

Ontario universities must respect the autonomy of democratically governed students’ unions

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At universities and colleges across Ontario, democratically elected students’ unions are a vital part of the campus community. They provide numerous services to their members, including access to vibrant student clubs, inclusive spaces, event programming, and important resources that support marginalized students on campus.

Students’ unions also engage in advocacy work that gives their members a voice with which to hold university administrations and governments accountable. As the Ontario Divisional Court noted in its recent ruling against the Student Choice Initiative, students’ unions are essential to collegial governance structures at Ontario universities.

Faculty respect and value the contributions students’ unions make towards our shared goals of fostering vibrant universities that provide accessible, quality education and innovative, groundbreaking research.

These students’ unions, founded by and for students, are fully autonomous not-for-profit corporations governed by democratically elected boards and executives. They are membership-driven organizations funded by their members through dues.

As not-for-profit corporations, students’ unions are required to follow the same rules and regulations as all not-for-profit corporations in Ontario, including holding open and democratic elections, annual general meetings, and having annual audits approved by their members.

Further, it is common for university administrations to agree to collect and remit membership dues on behalf of the students’ union and its members. This arrangement is similar to how university administrations collect and remit membership dues to labour unions on campus. Therefore, it is important to emphasize that this money belongs to the students’ union, not the university.

It is understandable that, from time to time, certain actions of a students’ union, its leadership, or its staff might be of concern to a university administration – just as certain actions of the university administration, its leadership, or its staff might be of concern to students or faculty.

Ultimately, it is students’ union members who are responsible for holding their union and its leadership accountable. As democratic organizations, when the leadership of a students’ union takes an action their members disagree with, students are able to exercise their democratic rights and hold their leadership accountable. Time and again we have seen this democratic engagement in action. New executives are elected and new transparency and accountability measures are put into force.

It is members of the students’ union, not the university administration, who have the authority to decide the appropriate next steps. If students wish to impeach and replace their union’s president or other executive members, that is their right. If students want to change the bylaws that govern the operations of their students’ union, that is their right. If students want to organize a referendum to dissolve their students’ union and replace it with another, that is their right.

University administrations, however, do not have the authority or justification to violate the legal autonomy of students’ unions or any other campus unions. Regardless of their motives for doing so, university administrations have no right to:

  • withhold students’ union membership dues;
  • interfere in students’ union elections or operations; or
  • attempt to shut down students’ unions (or any other legally autonomous organization).

Engaging in any of the activities listed above actively undermines the democratic rights of students and threatens the autonomy of a students’ union and its ability to represent and support its members.

It is vital that university administrations understand the limits of their authority. As concerned as a university administration might be, they have no right to withhold students’ union membership dues, interfere in a students’ union operations, or dictate the terms by which democratic students’ unions operate on campus.

Join a picket line to show your solidarity with Ontario educators during their one-day province-wide strike

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On Friday, February 21, Ontario’s four public school teachers’ unions will hold a province-wide strike to escalate pressure on the Ford government to come back to the bargaining table. This is the first time since 1997 that all four education unions will be on strike on the same day.

The one-day strike will highlight educators’ demands that the government reverse its plans to cut education funding, increase class sizes, and introduce mandatory e-learning.

The Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, and Ontario Elementary Catholic Teachers Federation are asking the Ford government to preserve the quality and accessibility of Ontario’s public education system.

Picket lines will be set up at public elementary and secondary schools across Ontario and all university faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professional staff are encouraged to join a picket line and show their solidarity.

Saturday, February 22: The People vs. Conservative Cuts Rally in Niagara Falls

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Next weekend, on Saturday, February 22, citizens from across Ontario will visit beautiful Niagara Falls to participate in The People vs. Conservative Cuts Rally, organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour.

That weekend, Conservatives will hold their policy convention at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls and the people of Ontario intend to make their voices heard. The rally will put a spotlight on the reckless policies and massive cuts Ford’s government has made to our valued public services.

Together, we can make sure that delegates to the convention hear the message from the People of Ontario: Stop the cuts!

RSVP today.

Unions are organizing free bus rides to the rally from across the province. Find a bus to the rally and get yourself a seat.

Following bargaining victory, Western Librarians and Archivists receive ChangeMaker Award from United Way and Labour United

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The University of Western Ontario Faculty Association’s Librarians and Archivists (UWOFA-LA) Bargaining Unit has received the ChangeMaker award from Labour United and United Way Elgin Middlesex in recognition of their organizing work and dedication during their most recent and successful round of bargaining.

The faculty association negotiated substantial improvements to their collective agreement following months of outreach and organizing as part of their GET LOUD! campaign.

As Dani Bartlett, Labour Programs & Services Coordinator for United Way Elgin Middlesex states, “the fight they took on was more than a fight for just their members, it was a fight to challenge policy and ensure workers are fairly compensated and valued in their workplace. As I watched this bargaining unfold one word kept coming to mind, FIERCE!”

The UWOFA-LA agreement gains them new office space, adds a new equity representative on selection committees, and establishes a Librarians and Archivists Forum to facilitate collegial discussion with the university administration. Further, a Memorandum of Agreement includes new voluntary retirement incentives with a guarantee that those positions are replaced.

As recipients of the award, the UWOFA Librarians and Archivists are among an impressive group of community mobilizers and stand-up citizens who inspired their colleagues and communities to take action.

Read more here.

Next week, join contract faculty for a social media day of action

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Will you join us next Wednesday, February 12 as part of our annual Social Media Day of Action?

It’s a day for contract faculty and allies to come together to support publicly funded education and better contract faculty working conditions.

The Ford government is full of #BrokenPromises – to workers, to students, to communities.

Half of the faculty in Ontario universities work on short-term precarious contracts, often without benefits or any job security. University funding cuts don’t just mean lay-offs, they jeopardize the futures of contract faculty and their families.

The Ford government has broken its promise to not cut jobs in the public sector, including at Ontario’s universities. They have broken promises to make life affordable by making massive cuts to OSAP. They have even broken their cynical promise to “reduce red tape” by burdening Ontario’s postsecondary institutions with even more bureaucracy, including a reckless and complex new funding model and unnecessary free speech policies.

Together, we will continue the fight to push back against the Ford government, working with the public school teachers, support workers, and parents who are tired of Ford’s #BrokenPromises and cuts to our cherished public education system.

Next Wednesday, join us on Twitter and use the hashtag #BrokenPromises to tweet your stories of how the Ford government cuts are hurting public education.

Recipients of 2019 bargaining, equity, and grievance awards announced

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OCUFA is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Lorimer Award, Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction, and Award for Outstanding Contribution to Grievance/Arbitration. These awards collectively celebrate the extensive contributions Ontario faculty, academic librarians, and other professional academic staff have made to improving working conditions and advancing equity on campus.

The Lorimer Award recognizes those individuals who have worked to protect and promote the interests of Ontario’s academic staff through collective bargaining. This year’s recipient is Geoffrey Hudson, an Associate Professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, who has shown an unwavering commitment to advancing the rights of his colleagues and community.

The Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction, sponsored by OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee, recognizes faculty whose work has improved the lives and working conditions of academics who are Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belong to other historically marginalized groups. This year’s recipients are Kimberly Nugent, an Associate Teaching Professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and Andrea O’Reilly, a Professor at York University. Kimberly and Andrea have shown impressive leadership and made substantial gains for the rights of women and precariously employed contract faculty.

This is the inaugural year for the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Grievance/Arbitration, sponsored by OCUFA’s Grievance Committee, which recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the defence of collective agreements through the grievance/arbitration process. This year’s recipients are Christal Côté, the Director and Senior Grievance and Arbitration Officer for the Carleton University Academic Staff Association, and Sophie Quigley, a Professor at Ryerson University and Grievance Officer for the Ryerson Faculty Association. Through their meticulous grievance and arbitration work, Christal and Sophie have shown a steadfast commitment to defending equity and fairness on their campuses.

“OCUFA is deeply honoured to recognize faculty and academic staff who demonstrate a firm commitment to equity and to defending and advancing the rights of faculty members, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in Ontario,” said Rahul Sapra, OCUFA President. “We thank them for their dedication and are proud to present them with this recognition of their vital contributions.”

The recipients of the 2019 Lorimer Award, Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction, and Award for Outstanding Contribution to Grievance/Arbitration will be honoured at a special ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 8, 2020.

Ontario Tech University faculty member honoured with OCUFA’s Award of Distinction for advancing and promoting equity

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TORONTO, February 6, 2020 – Kimberly Nugent, an Associate Teaching Professor at the Ontario Tech University, has won the 2019 Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction, presented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). The award, sponsored by OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee, recognizes faculty whose work has improved the lives and working conditions of academics who are Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belong to other historically marginalized groups.

“Kimberly is a tireless organizer, skilled negotiator, and visionary leader who has fiercely advocated on behalf of the marginalized members of Ontario Tech University’s educational community,” said Kathryn Trevenen, Vice-Chair of OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee. “Her leadership has been central to the substantive and impressive gains made by teaching-stream faculty at the university.”

Kimberly has championed an equity agenda through her many years of work at Ontario Tech University. Her first accomplishment was to organize and certify teaching-stream faculty at the university, individuals who are disproportionately women and educators from equity-seeking groups. As a Grievance Officer for the UOIT Faculty Association, she continued to defend the equity and rights of members, and soon became the first teaching-stream faculty member to serve as the faculty association’s Chief Negotiator and later President – laying the foundations for teaching-stream faculty at Ontario Tech University to make substantial gains under her leadership.

“OCUFA is committed to advancing and protecting the personal, professional, and academic interests of members of the academy who identify as Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belonging to other historically marginalized groups,” said Rahul Sapra, President of OCUFA. “That is why we are so thankful for Kimberly’s dedication to this work, and so proud to present her with this honour for her exceptional commitment and contributions to the struggle for equity.”

Nugent will receive her award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 8, 2020.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations across Ontario.

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To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead
416-306-6033 | blewis@ocufa.on.ca

York University professor honoured with OCUFA’s Award of Distinction for advancing and promoting equity

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TORONTO, February 6, 2020 – Andrea O’Reilly, a professor at York University, has won a 2019 Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction, presented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). The award, sponsored by OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee, recognizes faculty whose work has improved the lives and working conditions of academics who are Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belong to other historically marginalized groups.

“Andrea has distinguished herself as a leading academic in her field and as a scholar and activist committed to advancing women’s rights locally, nationally, and globally,” said Kathryn Trevenen, Vice-Chair of OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee. “Her leadership is transforming the lives of mothers in Canada and around the world.”

As a professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University, Andrea developed the first course on motherhood in North America, catalyzing a wide body of literature on motherhood studies and maternal theory, and founded the term matricentric feminism. Further, through the International Motherhood Movement Network, of which she is the Founder and Director, Andrea has established a global network of researchers and activists from more than 400 universities and over 100 motherhood organizations vested in feminist perspectives on maternal well-being.

“OCUFA is committed to advancing and protecting the personal, professional, and academic interests of members of the academy who identify as Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belonging to other historically marginalized groups,” said Rahul Sapra, President of OCUFA. “That is why we are so thankful for Andrea’s dedication to this work, and so proud to present her with this honour for her exceptional commitment and contributions to the struggle for equity.”

Professor O’Reilly will receive her award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 8, 2020.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations across Ontario.

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To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead
416-306-6033 | blewis@ocufa.on.ca

Ryerson University professor honoured with award for outstanding work defending faculty rights

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TORONTO, February 6, 2020 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is pleased to announce that Ryerson University Professor Sophie Quigley is a recipient of the inaugural OCUFA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Grievance/Arbitration. The award, sponsored by OCUFA’s Grievance Committee, recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the defence of collective agreements through the grievance/arbitration process.

“In the inaugural year for this award, we honour Sophie Quigley for distinguished service as a long-serving Grievance Officer and three term Chair of the Ryerson Faculty Association (RFA) Grievance Committee,” said Rahul Sapra, OCUFA President. “Sophie has repeatedly demonstrated the thought leadership, courage, and fortitude that are critical to defending the rights of faculty members.”

As a Grievance Officer for the Ryerson Faculty Association, Quigley has handled over seventy individual and policy grievances. Among the cases she shepherded through arbitration are two notable successes: One resulted in an arbitration award that clarified the role of comparator files in tenure evaluation. The second concluded with a precedent-setting award that determined that surveys used to evaluate faculty member teaching performance do not measure teaching effectiveness. It also found the surveys are characterized by inherent and systemic bias, and are discriminatory in their effects. Thanks to Quigley’s work, the results of these groundbreaking arbitration awards have reverberated well beyond Ryerson and received international recognition.

“OCUFA is deeply honoured to recognize those exceptional individuals who have demonstrated such a firm commitment to defending the rights of faculty members and other academic professionals,” said Sapra. “Sophie’s many accomplishments for RFA members and the broader impact of her achievements in arbitration, along with her steadfast commitment to equity and fairness, make her a worthy and distinguished recipient of the inaugural OCUFA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Grievance/Arbitration.”

Quigley will receive her award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 8, 2020.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations across Ontario.

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To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead
416-306-6033 | blewis@ocufa.on.ca

CUASA Director honoured with award for outstanding work defending faculty rights

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TORONTO, February 6, 2020 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is pleased to announce that Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) Director and Senior Grievance and Arbitration Officer Christal Côté is a recipient of the inaugural OCUFA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Grievance/Arbitration. The award, sponsored by OCUFA’s Grievance Committee, recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the defence of collective agreements through the grievance/arbitration process.

“In the inaugural year for this award, we honour Christal Côté for her dedicated service as Senior Grievance and Arbitration Officer for CUASA and for her significant contributions to the OCUFA Grievance Committee,” said Rahul Sapra, OCUFA President. “Côté has shown a remarkable capacity to empathise with members and expertly support them through the grievance process.”

A member of the Law Society of Ontario and licensed paralegal, Côté combines her skills and experiences in human rights and labour law to provide in-house legal services for CUASA, training for CUASA’s representatives, and representation of members and the faculty association through the grievance process and at arbitrations. Her meticulous preparation and persuasive arguments have yielded notable successes in a challenging environment in which the number and complexity of members’ grievances have been increasing significantly. Beyond her work for CUASA, Côté generously contributes to the OCUFA Grievance Committee’s activities in information sharing, legal education, and capacity building amongst faculty associations across the province.

“OCUFA is deeply honoured to recognize those exceptional individuals who have demonstrated such a firm commitment to defending the rights of faculty members and other academic professionals,” said Sapra. “Christal’s many accomplishments for CUASA members and impact through the OCUFA Grievance Committee, along with her unwavering commitment to equity and fairness, make her a worthy and distinguished recipient of the inaugural OCUFA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Grievance/Arbitration.”

Côté will receive her award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 8, 2020.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations across Ontario.

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To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead | 416-306-6033 | blewis@ocufa.on.ca

Northern Ontario School of Medicine professor honoured with Lorimer Award for outstanding work advancing faculty rights

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TORONTO, February 6, 2020 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is pleased to announce that Northern Ontario School of Medicine Associate Professor Geoffrey Hudson is the recipient of the 2019 Lorimer Award. This honour recognizes individuals who have worked to protect and promote the interests of Ontario’s academic staff through collective bargaining.

“Geoff has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving the working conditions of faculty and staff members at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine,” said Rahul Sapra, President of OCUFA. “His contributions have been an inspiration to his colleagues at NOSM and across Ontario.”

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.

For more than three decades, Hudson has fought to improve the working conditions of his academic colleagues. During his tenure as Chief Negotiator for the NOSM Faculty and Staff Association, he has helped negotiate five collective agreements, including the association’s first; substantively improved part-time faculty promotion and appointment policies; and actively supported the successful effort to organize a new support staff bargaining unit at the school as part of NOSMFSA/OPSEU 677.

“OCUFA is very proud to recognize those exceptional individuals whose commitment to collective bargaining advances the interests of faculty and other academic professionals,” said Sapra. “Quality education and vibrant campus communities are built on the foundations established by these collective agreements. Through the Lorimer Award, we recognize the outstanding contributions and leadership of those who work tirelessly to ensure that faculty and academic librarians have the protections and resources they need to thrive.”

Hudson will receive his award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 8, 2020.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations across Ontario.

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To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead
416-306-6033 | blewis@ocufa.on.ca

Stable funding, strong universities: OCUFA makes recommendations for 2020 Ontario Budget

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OCUFA has set out its priorities for the 2020 Ontario Budget in a written submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

OCUFA’s 2020 budget recommendations aim to preserve the accessibility and quality of postsecondary education in Ontario through stable, consistent, and adequate funding, as well as improved working conditions for university faculty.

Public funding of universities in Ontario is at record low levels, while tuition fees are high, and faculty in the province are extremely concerned about the impact on the accessibility and quality of postsecondary education.

After years of chronic underfunding of postsecondary education, now is the time to invest in the province’s universities.

OCUFA recommends that the Government of Ontario:

  1. Increase per-student public investment in Ontario’s universities to improve Ontario’s rank among other provinces in per-student funding by 2024-25.
  2. Reverse the unstable and inequitable performance-based university funding model and revert to the largely effective enrolment-based funding model.
  3. Eliminate the wasteful, ineffective, and unreliable Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario and allocate its budget to student financial assistance.
  4. Invest in a multi-year faculty renewal strategy that supports meaningful long-term change. This strategy should encourage universities to undertake additional full-time tenure-stream hiring over and above current planned growth and direct funds towards transitioning existing contract faculty into secure full-time positions.
  5. Drop the appeal of the Ontario Divisional Court’s decision that deemed the “Student Choice Initiative” unlawful. This would save further legal costs and the additional resources universities and colleges require to support the flawed program.
  6. Repeal the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act to avoid a lengthy and costly Charter challenge and, instead, focus on the province’s real problem: the lack of revenue required to adequately fund Ontario’s public services.
  7. Adequately and meaningfully consult with sector stakeholders, especially representatives of faculty, workers, and students, before introducing new government legislation or policy initiatives.

Universities are vital institutions within our communities. They deliver education to thousands of students that expands knowledge, they create vibrant campus communities, they produce thought-provoking and groundbreaking research that drives innovation, and they provide good jobs that support local economies.

A high quality and accessible higher education sector is only possible through robust public funding. It is time for the Government of Ontario to invest in and protect postsecondary education in the province.

Read the full pre-budget submission.