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Without a president, a mandate, or the trust of sector stakeholders, now is the time to shut down HEQCO

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TORONTO – The senior leadership of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) today announced that it was resigning, including President Harvey Weingarten. HEQCO has been the chief advisor to the Ford government on a number of controversial initiatives, including an attack on Ontario faculty over the age of 65. Since its inception HEQCO’s primary target in its analysis of Ontario’s system of postsecondary education has been faculty.

“HEQCO has long lacked the capacity or the confidence of the sector to play any role in improving postsecondary education in Ontario,” said Rahul Sapra, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “Instead of continuing to waste money on shoddy research and bad policy advice, HEQCO’s $5 million funding should be reallocated to fill some of the recent cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).”

HEQCO was responsible for a recent round of consultations on compensation for faculty over the age of 65. The consultations produced a remarkable set of regulations that allowed the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities to arbitrarily override collective agreements and reduce the compensation of faculty over the age of 65.

“It was ironic that Weingarten positioned himself and HEQCO as the Ford government’s trusted advisors on faculty pensions. What Weingarten has not made a point of stressing is that he himself is the beneficiary of a massive public sector pension while he continued to work full time in a high-salaried government position,” said Sapra.

While President of the University of Calgary, Weingarten reached a secret deal with the University for a pension top up worth a total of $4.5 million. Weingarten received his payout just as the University of Calgary was engaged in a $14 million cost-cutting exercise that saw many staff and faculty lose their jobs. It took the Alberta Auditor General several attempts to access the contract, which was originally not put in writing. Weingarten’s initial contract made no mention of the supplemental pension. Weingarten now has a $4.5 million public pension fund along with a salary of $228,000 and whatever pension and benefits he negotiated as President of HEQCO and his new role at Massey College. Throughout his tenure at HEQCO, Weingarten consistently identified the pensions and salaries of Ontario faculty as the key challenge for the sustainability of Ontario’s system of postsecondary education, completely ignoring the fact that Ontario has the lowest level of per-student public funding in Canada.

“It was amazingly hypocritical of Weingarten and HEQCO to attack the modest pensions of Ontario faculty while collecting a $4.5 million pension that was originally negotiated in secret. Faculty at the University of Calgary were rightly appalled by this sweetheart deal and raised serious concerns about it. One wonders if that’s why Weingarten seems to have such great resentment toward faculty and faculty associations,” said Sapra.

“Weingarten seemed fixated on faculty pensions as a threat to the sustainability of Ontario’s system of postsecondary education. However, he seemed untroubled by the issue of sustainability in Alberta when he made this self-interested financial arrangement. Like most of Ford’s government and advisors, Weingarten thinks sacrifices and transparency are for other people,” continued Sapra.

Governed by a board appointed by the government, HEQCO has often misrepresented itself as an independent, arms-length agency of the government seeking to influence the key decision-makers, when in fact it receives its direction directly from government. The MOU signed between the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) and the Chair of HEQCO states that the Chair of HEQCO is accountable to the “Minister for the performance of the Agency in fulfilling its mandate, and for carrying out the roles and responsibilities assigned to the Chair by the Act, this MOU, and all applicable Government directives.”

HEQCO has also been repeatedly criticized for a lack of rigour and scientific integrity in its data analysis and research. Its reputation and credibility among sector stakeholders quickly deteriorated along with the quality of its research. Its controversial recommendations and failure to account for the fundamental role chronic underfunding has played in undermining postsecondary education and research quality resulted in its work being widely dismissed.

“During its existence, student numbers have skyrocketed almost seven times faster than faculty hiring,” Sapra said. “Because of its failure to tackle the most pressing challenges facing postsecondary education in Ontario, the province now has the highest student-faculty ratio in Canada. HEQCO has served no useful purpose besides apologizing for a funding model that leaves Ontario dead last in the country. It is time to chart a new path, starting with the elimination of HEQCO,” concluded Sapra.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit


For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Michael Conlon, Executive Director at 416-306-6030 or

Some summer reading courtesy of Academic Matters

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There is more to Academic Matters than just the print issue. New articles are being added to the Academic Matters website every week. Here are some recent articles for your summer reading pleasure. And if you haven’t already, now is a great time to catch up on our  latest print issue: Decolonizing the university in an era of Truth and Reconciliation.

Precarious employment in education impacts workers, families and students
By Michael Mindzak, Brock University
“Recent announcements in Ontario about public education have been controversial, with changes including larger classroom sizes, mandatory online courses and curriculum revisions. However, perhaps most significantly, the imposed changes will lead to the loss of teaching positions across the province. With government priorities focused on …”

Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls: An epidemic on both sides of the Medicine Line
By Margaret Moss, University of British Columbia
“As an American Indian woman who recently moved to Canada, I’ve been saddened to see that the systemic and insidious racism towards Indigenous women and girls that is happening in the United States is also happening in Canada. My new provincial home, British Columbia …”

Retirement options for Canadians have changed dramatically
By Thomas Klassen, York University
“The plan by the Ontario government to reduce the wages of professors at age 71 illustrates the dramatic changes in the relationship between work, retirement, and pensions. Until recently, the expectation was that most Canadians would stop working between age 60 and 65 and then …”

Zero-hour contracts take a huge mental and physical toll – poor eating habits, lack of sleep and relationship problems
By Ernestine Gheyoh Ndzi, University of Hertfordshire and Janet Barlow, University of Hertfordshire
“The number of workers on zero-hours contracts continues to rise in the UK. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that between October and December 2018 there were between 777,000 and 911,000 people working on zero-hours contracts. But the impact of …”

Shifting priorities in the new university
By Thomas Klassen, York University
“The image of universities composed of mostly full-time tenured professors is long out-of-date. Half of all undergraduate students in Canada, as in many other countries, are taught by professors hired part-time or on short-term contracts. In the US, about three-quarters …”

Rahul Sapra appointed OCUFA’s 33rd president

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TORONTO – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is pleased to announce the appointment of its 33rd president – Rahul Sapra, Associate Professor of English in the Faculty of Arts at Ryerson University. Sapra officially began his two-year term on July 1, 2019.

“OCUFA is a dynamic organization that collaboratively works with faculty and academic librarians across Ontario to advocate for their rights and promote excellence in higher education,” said Sapra. “I am honoured to lead OCUFA as we continue to strive for a better postsecondary education system in Ontario.”

Sapra was the Vice-President of OCUFA from 2017-19 and Vice-President (External) of the Ryerson Faculty Association (RFA) from 2014-2018, where he served on several RFA committees. Before joining Ryerson, Sapra worked as a tenured Lecturer at S.G.T.B Khalsa College, University of Delhi. He received his PhD from Queen’s University, Ontario. Sapra’s research focuses on European Renaissance literatures, Postcolonial studies, and world cinema.

OCUFA would also like to extend its sincere gratitude to outgoing President Gyllian Phillips, who served the organization as a principled and distinguished leader since her appointment in 2017.

“Gyllian has been an inspirational leader who successfully guided OCUFA through two years of significant transition that witnessed repeated political attacks on faculty and the integrity of Ontario’s postsecondary education system,” Sapra said. “The fight is not over, and I hope to follow in her footsteps as we continue to take on these challenges. A big thanks to Gyllian for her incredible work!”

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit


For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Ben Lewis, Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or

Hundreds gather in Toronto for 2019 Worldviews Conference

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The 2019 Worldviews on Media and Higher Education Conference brought together hundreds of academics, students, higher education leaders, communications professionals, and journalists from around the globe to explore the conference’s theme: Democracy at risk? Reflecting on the future of higher education and media in a “post-truth” world.

Proceedings kicked off with a special screening of the documentary The Corporate Coup D’etat followed by a panel discussion moderated by Rick Salutin, and featuring Maude Barlow, John Ralston Saul, and David Altheide.

Over the next two days, a series of keynote talks, panel discussions, interviews, and interactive exhibits examined democracy and the changing power relations of higher education and the media in the global north and south – specifically the concept of expertise in a “post-truth” world and the types of voices amplified by emerging technologies.

The conference included 26 fascinating sessions focused around four major themes:

  • Communicating in a “post-truth” world
  • Technological change in higher education and the media: Impact, implications and future directions
  • Democratization and the recognition of multiple voices in media and higher education
  • Directions in media and higher education collaboration now and in the future

The conference featured over 70 speakers showcasing an inspiring mixture of experiences, insights, and opinions. They included:

  • Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians
  • Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary
  • Nermeen Shaikh, Co-Host and News Producer at Democracy Now! and author of The Present as History: Critical Perspectives on Global Power
  • Maria Ressa, CEO and Executive Editor of and former CNN Bureau Chief in Manilla, Philippines
  • Siva Vaidhyanathan, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia and author of Anti-Social Media
  • Sophia Rosenfeld, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Truth and Democracy
  • Tom Nichols, Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College and author of The Death of Expertise
  • Nana aba Duncan, Host of CBC’s Fresh Air and Media Girlfriends podcast
  • Cam Gordon, Head of Communications at Twitter Canada
  • Shree Paradkar, Race and Gender Columnist at the Toronto Star
  • Janice Stein, Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management at the University of Toronto

Throughout the conference, participants discussed the challenges and opportunities presented by the democratization of higher education and the media, engaged in a lively exchange of ideas both in and outside of sessions, and met new colleagues with whom they could explore innovative possibilities for future partnerships.

OCUFA’s analysis of government’s proposed wage-cap legislation

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The Ford government introduced sweeping legislation to cap public sector wage increases. The proposed legislation represents an attack on the right to free and fair collective bargaining, and is in line with the government’s broader anti-worker agenda.

The legislation was introduced on June 5, and although the legislature has now risen until October 28, the bill will be retroactive to June 5 once passed.

OCUFA has prepared an analysis of the proposed legislation and its overall implications, including for university autonomy and collective bargaining. In addition, OCUFA has prepared an FAQ that addresses a number of technical issues that are raised in the proposed legislation.

Read OCUFA’s analysis of the proposed wage-cap legislation here.

Read OCUFA’s FAQ on the proposed wage-cap legislation here.

OCUFA responds to government’s proposed wage-cap legislation

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OCUFA has been working with our partners in the postsecondary sector and the broader labour movement to respond to the government’s proposed wage-cap legislation. There is consensus in the labour movement that this legislation is an attack on the right to free and fair collective bargaining.

On June 5th, the day after the legislation was tabled, OCUFA President Gyllian Phillips participated in a press conference organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) along with elected representatives and front-line workers from CUPE Ontario, the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) among other unions. In speaking with reporters, OCUFA President Gyllian Phillips emphasized the negative impact of this proposed legislation on contract faculty, who work term-to-term and are already struggling to take care of their families and make ends meet.

OCUFA continues to seek legal advice on how to respond to this proposed legislation in order to protect the right to free and fair collective bargaining. Goldblatt Partners, who joined OCUFA at the order of the day at our May board meeting, issued a legal analysis of the proposed legislation that you can access here.

OCUFA’s opening statement at the Ministry consultations on “employee renewal”

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At the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ “employee renewal” consultation session with university faculty on June 24, OCUFA President Gyllian Phillips made OCUFA’s concerns regarding these consultations and the government’s agenda clear in her opening statement:

Good afternoon, my name is Gyllie Phillips and I am the President of OCUFA.

Thank you for the opportunity to offer some brief introductory remarks.

We have been patient and polite throughout this process largely out of respect for the fact that the civil service is delivering an agenda on behalf of absentee elected officials. However, our patience is running thin for jerry-rigged consultations that are a charade designed to affirm conclusions drawn in advance.

And it would seem that we are back where we started with these consultations in February, including a follow up paper that seems cut and pasted from earlier HEQCO reports. This is a manufactured crisis resulting in a flurry of stereotypes, bad faith, and most disturbing, a distraction from the very real problems facing our system of post-secondary education. This poorly researched report offers no verifiable evidence that faculty working and collecting pension are high in numbers or have any significant impact on the budgets of their institutions. Instead, we think that the very real problem of lack of faculty renewal is caused by chronic underfunding and the choice university administrations have made to hire early career faculty in precarious contract positions rather than full-time positions. The choice the government is making to scapegoat senior faculty, many of whom begin their careers in mid-life and reach maximum experience and productivity after 50, is discriminatory and frankly shameful.

The casual self-serving examples in the paper drawn from other, disparate sectors are not just uncompelling, they reveal an ongoing, ambitious ignorance about the specificity of the post-secondary education sector, the work of faculty, and the legal and historical autonomy of universities from government. That aside, in the interest of research rigour, one might have expected a comparison of sectors to disaggregate the data based on average starting age, average length of career, and the educational qualifications, and length of acquisition for the required credentials. It would have been relevant context to note that the pension available to Ontario teachers, nurses, and the civil service is vastly superior to the pensions that most of our members have access to and that those folks start their careers on average 10 years before faculty do. The consultation paper is based on the HECQO report which is based on a COU report, and both contain explicit recognition that their data is incomplete which would suggest to any researcher that their conclusions are unreliable. The report’s single source of data for the universities analysis was a COU report that itself admitted its data was fragmented and incomplete, and could not be relied upon for a systemic analysis. And yet both HEQCO and the Ministry seem entirely comfortable making sweeping, ambitious recommendations that will almost certainly violate the Charter based on incomplete and decontextualized data. This paper is emblematic of both the Ministry and HEQCO’s approach to research on this topic: instead of evidence based policy making we have policy based evidence making.

Though a weak, reheated version of the paper distributed in February, this latest edition does have the virtue of transparently laying out the agenda of forcing senior faculty out of the academy and discriminating on the basis of age. Instead of focusing on the real issue, the Ministry has joined HEQCO in its fixation on scapegoating faculty and blaming faculty, particularly those post 65, for the real problem with faculty renewal: Ontario’s perennial under-investment in higher education. Take for example HEQCO’s rationale for focusing on the labour cost of faculty and in particular post 65 faculty: “The second component, less discussed but more important, is the capacity of institutions to sustain and improve the quality of the education they provide. This commitment to academic quality is the raison d’être of the system.” The none too subtle, ageist inference here being that post 65 faculty are a barrier to academic quality.

While academic quality is indeed the raison d’etre of the system, it would be amusing if it weren’t so offensive to suggest that stripping post 65 faculty of compensation and violating the Charter right to freedom of association though collective bargaining will somehow improve the quality of post-secondary education. OCUFA has offered compelling evidence that, on the contrary, senior faculty are often at the height of their research productivity and funding, graduate supervision, and pedagogy. It is hardly surprising that neither HEQCO nor MTCU has offered a shred of evidence for this silly proposition. Indeed, HEQCO is so single minded and zealous in its focus on faculty, one is left to speculate whether the whole enterprise is driven and sustained by resentment and animus toward tenured faculty and their elected representatives. That is a tainted reservoir of advice for the Ministry to be drawing from. In its examination of sustainability the Ministry seems enthralled by the frame HEQCO has put around issues facing the system and like HEQCO seems allergic to even mentioning that Ontario has the lowest per capita and per student funding in the country and thanks to the recent OSAP cuts now has one of the weakest student aid programs in the country. Any approach to sustainability that refuses to acknowledge that Ontario’s system of post-secondary education is the most poorly funded in the country and forecloses enhanced funding from the outset cannot be taken seriously.

To the issue at hand, we believe that the only reason these regulations are not already written is because of the regulatory and legal complexity of pensions and, to be candid, coming up with a viable policy that discriminates on the basis of age without ever acknowledging so. In part the problem the Ministry faces is at once conceptual, legal, and pragmatic: how can we reduce a legal entitlement courts have recognized in the form of deferred income earned from past employment (i.e a pension!) but dress it up so it looks like a reduction in overall employment compensation. From our perspective this entire process amounts to a proxy war against the elimination of mandatory retirement. It is, therefore, difficult for us to answer most of the questions you pose because they are largely the subset of one question: What creative solutions can you offer us to strip your members of the right to collective bargaining and their freedom from discrimination on the basis of age?

That’s obviously a question we aren’t interested in answering. However, in order to keep the dialogue moving we have a few questions of our own:

  1. Has the Ministry done any careful analysis of the actual money the various proposed schemes would save? If so would the Ministry share its number and the methodology it used? To what extent are the projected savings dependent on ‘encouraging’ post 65 faculty out of the system? It is worth noting every model we have used to gauge potential savings demonstrates that HEQCO’S $90 million is an exaggerated figure with limited-to-no documentation to substantiate it. Yet the Ministry continues to cite as if it were fact.
  2. Does the Ministry know the exactly how many faculty between 65-71 continue work full time and collect a pension? This number has been elusive but our research suggests the number of faculty doing so is likely negligible given the vast majority of our members (at the five institutions where it is possible) do not exercise this option for a variety of reasons. This information is hard to pin down because pension and payroll systems are not synced and at this time we know of no reliable way to be sure of the number. That said, we assume the Ministry has this precise data given that they have identified this as one of the most, if not the most, important policy issues facing Ontario’s universities.
  3. Given the scarcity of reliable data will the government fund an independent organization, which HEQCO is not, with representation of stakeholders on it that will commission independent and complete research on the post-secondary sector?
  4. How does the Ministry plan to deal with collective agreements already in place? Is the plan for the Minister to simply override them? Can the government confirm that it has concluded based on rigorous study and assessment that there are no other viable non-discriminatory solutions that respect collective bargaining, and if so share them with us?
  5. If the Ministry moves forward to strip the compensation of senior faculty will there be a reduction in duties commensurate with that salary cut?
  6. How will those with defined contribution plans be treated? And those with hybrid plans? Will there be a distinction between defined contribution plans that are privately held vs those derived from employment at an Ontario university? In the case of the former, if they are not in play, why the wide powers giving the Minister access to personal financial information?

I think it is critical to have the answers to these important questions before we can address the questions set out in the Ministry document. I will conclude by saying we are always open to participating in collegial and collaborative good faith dialogue about how to make Ontario’s system of public post-secondary education better – even when we have to agree to disagree. What we are less interested in is participating in bad faith consultations that assist the government in discriminating on the basis of age and abrogating collective agreements negotiated in good faith. I will conclude by saying our participation here today in no way limits our legal right to challenge whatever regulations come of this process.

Job posting: Executive & Special Projects Coordinator

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Maternity Leave Replacement of 1 year – July 15, 2019 – July 15, 2020

Salary Range: $82,000 – $85,000 per annum (dependent on skills and experience)

The Executive and Special Projects Coordinator position is part of a dynamic team of policy staff who work collaboratively to deliver the services required to meet OCUFA’s mandate. The position comes with a generous vacation, pension, and benefits package and this is a unionized position with CUPE 1281.

Areas of Responsibility

Providing staff support to the OCUFA Board and Executive, assigned committees, workshops and conferences where required

Supporting the work of the Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC):

  • Assisting in the development of the goals and strategic direction of the committee including developing workshops and planning trainings
  • Communicating with committee members, sharing resources, and developing relationships with other committees
  • Supporting the committee chair with SWEC related issues

Providing policy, research, communications, and administrative support to specific special projects undertaken by OCUFA, including, but not limited to:

  • Assisting in the development of the goals and strategic direction for projects
  • Worldviews Lecture Series
  • Drafting and implementing work plans
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with committees, associations, organizations, individuals and staff relevant to projects
  • Drafting project reports
  • Liaising with OCUFA’s financial administrator to keep track of budgets and expenditures, and identifying funding opportunities
  • Monitoring, reporting on, and providing analysis on legislation, regulations, programs and policy directions that impact projects undertaken

Coordinating work in the Executive Director’s office, including, but not limited to:

  • Planning, communications and research support
  • Preparing materials for Executive, Board, staff and other meetings and liaising with other staff involved in production and distribution of meeting materials
  • Preparing speaking notes, correspondence, reports and briefing notes for OCUFA’s President, Executive Director, Executive members, and relevant committees
  • Coordinating committee chairs meetings and calls
  • Coordinating the Mandelbaum graduate fellowship selection committee work
  • Representing OCUFA at meetings where appropriate
  • Supporting the Communications Lead with editing Academic Matters
  • Organizing the annual Worldviews lecture about a topical issue for media and higher education professionals
  • Other duties may be assigned from time to time as the needs of OCUFA, or its circumstances, change. Such duties shall be discussed prior to assignment to ensure compatibility with workload and area of expertise


  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience in project management and office coordination
  • Excellent organizational, communication, and analytical skills and an understanding of advocacy, research and critical policy analysis
  • Ability to synthesize and filter a large amount of information in a succinct and accessible manner
  • A proficient level of computer literacy
  • An understanding of, and commitment to, social justice and equity related issues, particularly those that may impact the university sector.
  • Knowledge of public sector pensions would be an asset
  • A minimum of a graduate degree, and 5 years experience within advocacy organizations, labour unions, research institutes, public sector agencies, or professional associations, (or the equivalent combination of education and work experience)
  • Ability to work on projects individually and in collaboration with other staff members independent of supervision

Staffing Structure

All staff act under the direction and authority of the Executive Director. OCUFA is committed to the principle of employment equity, is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes diversity in the workplace.

Please submit your application with resume and the names of three references by July 5, 2019 to:

Michael Conlon, Ph.D

Executive Director


17 Isabella Street

Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1M7

Goodbye Merrilee, we hardly knew you! Ford government appoints a new Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities

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Following a major cabinet shuffle in Ontario on June 20th, Ross Romano, the MPP from the riding of Sault Ste. Marie was appointed as the new Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. Romano replaces Merrilee Fullerton, the previous Minister of TCU who has now been granted the portfolio of the Minister of Long-Term Care.

Minister Romano is a second-term Progressive Conservative MPP who previously held the position of parliamentary assistant to both the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. He is a graduate of Algoma University and the University of Windsor Law School. Prior to his political career, he served as a lawyer at O’Neill DeLorenzi Mendes specializing in civil and criminal litigation. He also served as a city councilor in Sault Ste. Marie before being elected as an MPP in a 2017 by-election.

Similar to MPP Fullerton, Minister Romano does not have any previous professional background in the field of postsecondary education and it is unclear whether his appointment signals any shifts in the PC government’s plans for the postsecondary sector.

During her tenure as the TCU Minister, Merrilee Fullerton notoriously refused to meet and engage with OCUFA and most other major stakeholders in the postsecondary sector. She repeatedly turned down and ignored any requests for engagement and seemed particularly uninterested in understanding the nuances and complexities of the issues in the sector. Her Ministry also consistently failed to consult any of the representative bodies and experts in the sector regarding their critical policy decisions. The reckless changes to the postsecondary education funding model, cuts to Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), forced so-called free speech policies, and attacks on collective bargaining rights and the democratically elected student organizations are among the decisions made by her Ministry over the last year without any consultation with the sector.

After an eleven-month term, Merrilee Fullerton is now leaving her role as the Minister of TCU, without having once met or engaged with university faculty or most other members of the postsecondary sector in the province.

In the coming weeks, OCUFA is hoping to meet with Minister Romano to discuss his vision for the future of higher education in Ontario and current issues facing the higher education system. We’re particularly interested in engaging the new Minister in a conversation regarding the Ministry’s planned attack on senior faculty, as well as the recently announced changes to the funding model for Ontario universities and colleges. Our hope is that Minister Romano’s approach to the sector would be different than that of his predecessor and that he would value the opportunity to listen to the voice of university faculty in Ontario.


OCUFA adopts official policy on university governance

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At OCUFA’s May Board Meeting, members adopted an official policy on collegial university governance. The policy statement, developed by OCUFA’s University Governance Committee, puts forward a set of principles to guide collegial governance at Ontario universities. The guidelines are informed by a comprehensive review of relevant research and the 2018 OCUFA university governance survey completed by every university faculty association in Ontario.

Over the past few years, Ontario faculty associations have been reporting various barriers to collegial governance for faculty, a lack of meaningful input in university decisions, and frustration with controversial decisions being made by increasingly corporatized Boards of Governors. Coupled with the chronic underfunding of universities and their increased reliance on precariously employed professors who are generally left out of the decision-making processes, the failure to implement collegial governance has led universities in Ontario to function much less collaboratively than they have in the past.

The policy statement outlines key principles around representation on governance bodies, processes and practices of governance, and procedures regarding senior administrator searches and appointments. In addition to establishing OCUFA’s position on university governance, this statement is meant to be a resource for faculty and administrators at Ontario universities working to ensure collegial governance is respected at their institutions.

Download and read the policy statement on collegial university governance.

For any inquiries regarding this policy document, please contact Mina Rajabi Paak at

OCUFA’s 158th Board of Directors meeting

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On Saturday May 25 and Sunday May 26, OCUFA held its final Board of Directors meeting of the 2018-19 academic year. During the weekend, board members discussed the organization’s current priorities – good jobs, university funding, and capacity building – especially as they relate to the Ford government’s attacks on postsecondary education. During a special lunchtime reception on the Saturday, board members and colleagues celebrated the winner of the 2019 Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship.


Good jobs

Advocating for good jobs – one of OCUFA’s long-term goals – has taken on particular urgency under the current government and with dramatic changes in the nature of academic work. OCUFA continues to advocate for a postsecondary education system where every academic job is a good job with fair compensation, reasonable workloads, access to benefits, and job security.

One of OCUFA’s main campaigns has been that of Fairness for Contract Faculty. Its goal is to reduce the reliance on contract faculty by ensuring more are hired into secure full-time positions. Delivering fairness for contract faculty and committing to faculty renewal will create more good jobs on our campuses and ensure that students have access to the quality learning experience they deserve. In light of the Ford government’s attacks on postsecondary education, meeting participants discussed the destructive impact these cuts and changes will have for contract faculty.

Further discussion focused on the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ recent “consultation” on faculty renewal, which neither delivered a commitment to faculty renewal nor addressed the negative impact of underfunded postsecondary institutions on full-time faculty hiring.

Additionally, board members discussed new legislation introduced in the Ontario Budget that would allow the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities unprecedented powers to override collective agreements for postsecondary faculty and staff working while collecting a pension.

University funding

OCUFA has held a long-standing goal of increasing public funding for universities to support high-quality postsecondary education in Ontario. Unfortunately, the government effectively reduced universities and colleges revenue through a tuition fee cut announced in January without an accompanying increase in public funding.

University funding was further destabilized by April’s Ontario Budget, which introduced a drastic move towards tying funding to market-based “performance” outcomes. By 2024-25 this new funding formula would allocate 60 per cent of university funding to institutions based on their ability to meet certain performance targets prescribed by the government. To put this change in dollar figures, funding tied to performance will increase from $50 million (the current figure for 2018-19) to an estimated $2.2 billion by 2024-25.

OCUFA has long cautioned against allocating university funding based on performance measures. Such a shift would be counterproductive as it will, by design, create inequities and slowly but certainly undermine the integrity of Ontario’s postsecondary education system. This drastic shift in the way postsecondary institutions are funded will only serve to destabilize the sector, make long-term planning impossible, encourage more bureaucracy and stifle innovation.

Capacity building

Ontario’s university faculty face serious challenges in their workplaces, including too few faculty to do the work, and too many precarious jobs at underfunded universities. OCUFA continues to support member associations with capacity building strategies that can be leveraged to build stronger unions and a university labour movement able to more effectively tackle these problems and resist the ill-advised policy decisions being made by the Ford government.

OCUFA continues to work with member associations to build their capacity to mobilize their members and build relationships with allies. At the Board Meeting, and based on members’ feedback and recommendations to the President and Executive Director, a new action toolkit was created to help faculty associations take action on their campuses and in their communities against the government’s attacks on postsecondary education.

OCUFA members elect new Executive

During the meeting, the OCUFA Board of Directors elected the organization’s executive for the 2019-20 academic year.

As of July 1, the new executive will be comprised of:

Rahul Sapra (Ryerson Faculty Association)

Sue Wurtele (Trent University Faculty Association)

Ann Bigelow (University of Western Ontario Faculty Association)

Glen Copplestone (King’s University College Faculty Association)
Gautam Das (Lakehead University Faculty Association)
Michelle Webber (Brock University Faculty Association)

Chair of the Board:
Kate Lawson (Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo)

As President Gyllian Phillips is finishing her term of office, a special reception was held where she was thanked for her years of dedication, leadership, and hard work.

Welcome to the McMaster University Academic Librarians’ Association

OCUFA is pleased to welcome the McMaster University Academic Librarians’ Association (MUALA) as the newest member of OCUFA. Their membership was officially ratified at the meeting.

Celebration of 2019 recipient of the Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship

Finally, a special luncheon ceremony during the meeting celebrated the recipient of the 2019 Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship for Excellence in Social Sciences, Humanities, or Arts. Western University PhD student Rebecca Ellis was recognized with the Fellowship for her exceptional scholarship and deep engagement in her community. The luncheon concluded with a special presentation from 2018 Mandelbaum Fellowship winner Galen Watts. Galen shared his work studying the socio-political implications of contemporary spirituality for Canadian millennials.

Huron University College faculty reach their first collective agreement as a union

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The Huron University College Faculty Association (HUCFA) has reached its first collective agreement as a union. The faculty association has negotiated terms and conditions of employment on behalf of tenured faculty for many decades and, more recently, for contract faculty at the institution. This latest agreement is special because it comes after the faculty association chose to unionize to formalize their bargaining relationship and broaden the negotiating tools at their disposal.

The four-year agreement builds on a robust foundation of rights, extending many to per-course contract and program sessional faculty for the first time. Contract faculty are now guaranteed institutional support such as office space, parking, email, technology support, and library services. In addition, job security measures have been enhanced. Faculty will be awarded a one-year appointment after teaching three or more courses in two consecutive years.

Tenure stream faculty have new technology options, new stipends and course reductions for chairs and directors, and a half-course reduction for probationary faculty in their first two years of employment.

All faculty received improved allowances and competitive salary increases in line with those received at other faculty associations, in addition to paid release for faculty association work.

Congratulations to the bargaining team and executive of HUCFA on reaching their first union contract.

Government attack on workers’ rights will deny fair wages and benefits to contract faculty and already underpaid academic staff

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TORONTO – Ontario faculty are deeply concerned by the Ford government’s attempt to cap public sector compensation increases at one per cent per year. This legislation represents an attack on the right to free and fair collective bargaining, a threat to pay equity and benefits for contract faculty and other marginalized workers, and an erosion of the foundations of Ontario’s important public services.

Following previous legislation that reduced the minimum wage and took away basic employment rights from Ontario workers, including paid sick days and equal pay for equal work, the Ford government is now attempting to deny public sector employees their Constitutional right to collectively negotiate their salaries and benefits. Ontario’s faculty and academic librarians firmly believe in the right to free and fair collective bargaining. It is through this process that equity is fostered, ensuring that good jobs and fair pay are provided to traditionally under-compensated groups, including women-identified, racialized, and contract faculty.

“Doug Ford has made it clear that he believes Ontario workers should have lower wages and fewer rights,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “We couldn’t disagree more. Encouraging more poorly paid precarious work is a step in the wrong direction. Ontario universities should be leaders when it comes to providing good, secure jobs.”

If passed, this new legislation would have serious equity implications for university workers, especially for precariously employed contract faculty who teach a majority of courses at Ontario’s universities. Denying faculty unions the ability to negotiate better compensation for their contract faculty members will deny fair wages and benefits to thousands of faculty working term-to-term and already struggling to take care of their families and make ends meet. Further, this legislation would make it more challenging to close systemic pay gaps for women-identified, Indigenous, and racialized faculty and staff.

“The government should be helping to create good, stable jobs for those currently forced to work short-term precarious contracts,” said Phillips. “Instead, Ford is wasting energy on sham ‘consultations’ and introducing reckless new university funding models that will further entrench the exploitation of contract workers.”

This government has been intent on undermining Ontario’s public services, announcing cuts to education and postsecondary education, and attacking student and worker rights at Ontario’s universities. In a written submission to the Treasury Board Secretariat regarding the sham “consultation” process held in advance of this legislation’s introduction, OCUFA detailed its concerns about the government’s motives. This response clarified that faculty members are employed by, and negotiate their contracts with universities, not the provincial government. Any attempt by Ford to interfere in university collective agreements would violate university autonomy, in addition to the constitutionally protected rights of faculty and staff.

Further, OCUFA highlighted that Ontario has the lowest levels of per-capita revenue and per-student funding in Canada. Instead of attacking hard-working Ontarians, the Ford government should be asking the province’s corporations and most wealthy to pay their fair share to ensure the government can properly invest in Ontario’s public services, including postsecondary education.

OCUFA believes in a high-quality public postsecondary education system that provides good stable jobs that foster vibrant communities both on and off campus. Together, Ontario’s university faculty and academic librarians will work to resist this government’s vindictive, ideological agenda and will continue efforts to build fairer universities where all students can get an excellent education and where all workers have job security, fair pay, and benefits.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit


For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Ben Lewis, Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or

Time is running out to register for Worldviews 2019

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Worldviews 2019 starts next week, but there is still time to register.

In addition to a stellar line-up of speakers, conference participants will enjoy a special free screening of the documentary The Corporate Coup D’etat being presented in partnership with the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. The film will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Rick Salutin, and featuring Maude Barlow, John Ralston Saul, and David Altheide.

Don’t miss out. Register today!

Join the June 7 & 8 Days of Action to resist Ford’s cuts

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June 7 is the one year anniversary of the Doug Ford government. It mark’s a year of reckless cuts to education, health care, the minimum wage, and decent work laws that made life better for Ontario’s most vulnerable workers.

To mark this milestone, citizens from every corner of the province are organizing and hitting the streets to show that the vast majority of Ontarians did not and do not support these attacks on our public services.

Actions are being organized in dozens of communities, including many with university campuses:

  • Durham
  • Guelph
  • Hamilton
  • Kingston
  • London
  • Mississauga
  • Niagara
  • North Bay
  • Ottawa
  • Sault Ste. Marie
  • Sudbury
  • Toronto
  • Waterloo

These actions are being coordinated by the Ontario Federation of Labour.

RSVP today to get all the details about the actions happening in your community.