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Learning about Indigenization and Collective Bargaining with OCUFA

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In the Spring, OCUFA’s Collective Bargaining Committee hosted two sessions on the challenges and gains made in the hiring and support of Indigenous faculty. Participants heard from Jean Teillet, Senior Counsel with Pape Salter Teillet, and author of the influential 2022 report to the University of Saskatchewan on Indigenous identity fraud. Jean Teillet spoke about importance of establishing Indigenous identity verification policies and procedures to prevent the harm caused by identity fraud. Her presentation served as an important basis for the afternoon session on improvements made in support of Indigenous faculty.

Participants also learned about the importance of ensuring Indigenous faculty engagement on the bargaining team, as well as the barriers, given that some universities had either no Indigenous faculty members, or such small numbers, particularly with tenure status, and the additional service burden consistently placed on Indigenous faculty. Speaking on the 2021 collective bargaining round for the Acadia University Faculty Association (AUFA) were Chief Negotiator Anthony Pash, and Shelly Johnson—Salteaux name Mukwa Musayett—Canada Research Chair in Indigenizing Higher Education at Thompson Rivers University, who served as an adviser to AUFA. Larry Savage, Chief Negotiator for the Brock University Faculty Association (BUFA), and Spy Dénommé-Welch (Algonquin-Anishnaabe), Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Knowledge Systems, and Education at the University of Western Ontario, presented on BUFA’s 2020 round.

The panelists spoke about wins at the table made despite such challenges, including a joint committee at Acadia, which includes members of the Mi’kmaq community, AUFA, and the University Board. Some objectives of the committee are to identify priorities, and recommend changes on professional responsibilities, workload, as well as hiring and retention for Indigenous faculty. Another gain was a cluster hire of three Indigenous scholars. At Brock, BUFA was able to negotiate criteria for determining graduate or PhD equivalency for Indigenous knowledge, as well as the ability for Indigenous members to bring an elder or knowledge keeper for promotion and tenure appeals or grievance procedures, in addition to the union representative. As a result of these gains, AUFA and BUFA expressed a commitment to evaluating these achievements in terms of support for and retention of Indigenous faculty, to build on these improvements over time.

New ratified agreement: Brock University

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In early July, members of the Brock University Faculty Association (BUFA) ratified a three-year collective agreement ending June 30, 2025. With strong member engagement reflected in a historic strike mandate (97 percent in favour), members made gains on their priorities of fair and reasonable compensation, job security for limited-term faculty, equity, supports for research, scholarship, and creative activity, greater scheduling protections, and collegial governance.

On compensation, members received a 3.5 per cent increase in scale, as well as a one-time lumpsum payment of $2,000 added to their base salary in 2023, followed by three percent increases to base in each of 2024 and 2025. Each member also received 2.2 percent increases in Progress through the Ranks (PTR) payments for each year of the agreement. Stipends for Chairs/ Directors and Program Directors, as well as overload stipends, will also increase.

Retired and former limited-term members received an increase to their Health Care Spending Account of 3.5 per cent in each of the first two years, and three percent in the third year of the agreement. Members also saw an increase in their coverage for psychological services and vision care, as well as in their moving expenses allotment. The statutory domestic/sexual violence leave provision has been incorporated into the collective agreement with double the paid leave guaranteed by the Employment Standards Act. This amounts to 10 paid days, with additional paid leave possible at the discretion of Dean/University Librarian. The eligibility to take phased retirement has been expanded from members over 60 to those over 55 years.

To support research, scholarship, and creative activities, a new Internal Research Grant will allot a minimum of $160,000 in each of the 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26 budget years to fund general-topic internal research grant competition(s) open to all members.

A new Teaching Intensive faculty appointment has been created, with a workload distribution of 60 per cent teaching, 20 per cent service, and 20 per cent research/scholarly/creative activities, and a normal teaching load of six half-credit courses per academic year> Ah a minimum of 18 current Limited Term Appointments (LTA) and Instructional Limited Term Appointments (ILTA) will be converted to Teaching-Intensive faculty positions, with no less than half of these conversions to take effect by July 1, 2024. The proportion of Teaching Intensive faculty appointments to full-time faculty appointments is capped, and there will also be so a concomitant year over year decrease in the proportion of LTA and ILTA faculty to tenure and tenure-track faculty. In another step toward greater job security, the maximum length of the ILTA contract has been extended from three to five years.

The agreement contains several equity gains. A framework has been created for the initiation of Targeted Hiring Programs. “Black” has been added as a distinct designated group for the purposes of Employment Equity. The University will provide the Union with the results of its EDI census planned in 2023-2024. And, in preparation for an equity audit, a joint equity audit committee will be struck.

Criteria have been established for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor for Teaching-Intensive faculty members. Letters from external referees for all faculty applying for promotion may now comment on teaching and service in addition to research and scholarly activity. Changes have also been made to permanence and promotion provisions for professional librarian members.

On workload and working conditions, a minimum of 35 half-course or equivalent teaching releases will be distributed each year to members who engage in greater than expected levels of research, unscheduled teaching, or service. The workload distribution for ILTAs has been clarified. The ability of Professional Librarian members to work off campus has been confirmed. The University has committed to a comprehensive review of current practices of course scheduling, with a view toward improvement.

In a gain for collegial governance, a new provision recognizes the importance of member consultation and participation in the selection processes to fill senior academic administrative positions. The University will engage and consult with the Union on any changes to the policy governing the appointment of the President and Vice-Presidents. On other information sharing, the Administration will now be required to provide BUFA with audited financial statements; comparison of budgeted financial results to actual; and trimester financial reports presented to the Board of Trustees.

New ratified agreement: Wilfrid Laurier University

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Members of the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA) Full-Time faculty unit ratified a new three-year agreement that made significant gains on their priorities of workload, working conditions, and increasing compensation to make up for caps imposed by Bill 124 as well as inflation. The agreement was reached over three weeks of concentrated bargaining in May and June.

On compensation, members received a three per cent increase in salary scale, floors, and stipends for each year of the agreement, along with a 0.5 per cent Ontario System Adjustment increase in 2024 and 2025. In terms of benefits, members successfully resisted the imposition of co-payment requirements on several categories of benefits and gained eligibility for Sun Life’s extended gender affirmation coverage. Compassionate leave has been extended to death or illness of those who are “considered to be like family.” Leaves may be extended to accommodate creed-based practices and travel, with supporting documentation to be provided upon request.

To address workload, the Chair’s stipend was increased for the next three years. Course releases available for research excellence will be extended to cover instructional development and graduate supervision beyond the norm, and the pool of eligible courses expanded. The maximum limit on marking assistance has been raised from 125 to 195 hours.

Faculty complement will be increased over the life of the agreement, from the current 480 to 490. However, the suspension of the penalty on teaching by non-members during the 2020-23 agreement because of COVID-19 will be extended until June 30, 2025.

Members have retained their right over mode of course delivery. Members cannot be assigned Online or Special courses without their consent unless:

  1. There is no other work available for them in the subunit
  2. The mode of delivery for the course has been approved by the department/program-in-council, faculty-in-council, and Senate.

Full Time Members will be paid the same for teaching online courses and regular courses, on overload. Those who develop online courses will have the option to teach them the first three times the courses are offered, as part of their regular load.

Librarians have also made gains on working conditions, among them the entitlement to work partially from home on a regular basis.

A significant equity gain has been the creation of a new Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization (EDII) fund of $20,000, with $10,000 for EDI work and $10,000 for Indigenous Knowledge endeavours.

Changes were also made to hiring and tenure and promotion committee procedures, and to referral and evaluation criteria for promotion to Full Professor.

Among other changes: Merit categories have been made more flexible. “Teaching Evaluations” will be referred to as “Student Course Surveys” and no evaluation of teaching can rely exclusively or primarily on them. To address research misconduct, research data must be retained retention for seven years following the end of a project’s data collection and recording period, and the Tri-Council framework on what constitutes misconduct has been adopted. Conflict-of-interest provisions have been extended to “intimate partnerships,” not just “sexual relationships.”

OCUFA Awards of Distinction announced

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TORONTO, July 20, 2023 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) recognized ten members of the academic community for teaching, librarianship, journalism, scholarship, and service to their faculty associations.

“The 2022-2023 recipients of the OCUFA Awards of Distinction showcase the great innovation, advocacy, and dedication found on our public university campuses and in the higher education community,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “The selected recipients are actively pushing our sector forward in exciting and innovative ways in the classroom, at the bargaining table, in research, and in the media. OCUFA is pleased to celebrate their work and contributions to our universities and the postsecondary sector.”

The recipients of the OCUFA Teaching Awards are:

  • Stavroula (Roula) Andreopoulos, Teaching Stream Professor, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
  • Ali Arya, Associate Professor, School of Information Technology, Carleton University
  • Véronic Bézaire, Instructor, Department of Chemistry, Carleton University

The recipients of the OCUFA Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowships for Excellence in Social Sciences, Humanities, or Arts are:

  • Mohit Dudeja (Doctoral), Education, Lakehead University
  • Aqsa Zahid (Masters), Counselling and Clinical Psychology, University of Toronto

The recipient of the OCUFA Mark Rosenfeld Fellowship in Higher Education Journalism is:

  • David Venn, Assistant Editor, Literary Review of Canada

The recipient of the OCUFA Equity and Social Justice Committee Award is:

  • Sobia Iqbal, Diversity and Equity Committee Chair, Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA)

The recipient of the OCUFA Grievance/Arbitration Award is:

  • Natasha Udell, Legal Counsel, Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO)

The recipient of the OCUFA Lorimer Collective Bargaining Award is:

  • Susan Wurtele, Chief Negotiator, Trent University Faculty Association (TUFA)

The recipient of the OCUFA Service Award is:

  • Mike Eklund, President, University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA)

The awards will be presented at the OCUFA Awards of Distinction event at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel on Saturday, October 28, 2023.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at


For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at

Nigmendra Narain, professor at Western, succeeds to OCUFA Presidency

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TORONTO, June 30, 2023 – Nigmendra Narain, faculty member at Western University, will be the 35th President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) starting July 1, 2023, for a two-year term.

“Ontario’s world-class, publicly funded universities offer unparalleled value to our communities, province and economy, and faculty and academic librarians are vital contributors to their success,” said Narain. “I’m very honoured to lead OCUFA and continue more than 50 years of advocacy for our public universities and the people who make them run.”

A lecturer and course coordinator in the Department of Political Science at Western, Narain has received multiple awards for teaching and service and is the former President and current Past President of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA). He is also the former Vice-President of OCUFA. His research interests include International Relations, gender politics, and security studies.

“It’s essential,” said Narain, “that public universities receive stable and robust funding, that their governance be transparent and equitable, and that university jobs are stable and of high quality. OCUFA will keep pressing the provincial government to adequately invest in our public universities to ensure that they thrive now and in the future.”

Narain thanked outgoing President Sue Wurtele for steering OCUFA with strength, dedication, purpose, and experience during times of upheaval in the education sector and public service nationwide. Wurtele’s tenure overlapped with the crisis at Laurentian University and subsequent campaign to reform corporate restructuring and bankruptcy laws at the federal level, the striking down of Bill 124 by Ontario courts, and the creation of a provincial government Blue-Ribbon Panel focused on post-secondary education success.

“Sue has been a consistent, strong voice for faculty, academic librarians, students, and university workers in the face of great hostility from the Ford government, opaque legislation, and attacks on workers’ rights,” said Narain. “I am grateful for her expertise and leadership as President, and am thrilled Sue will be staying on the OCUFA Executive as Chair of the Board. I look forward to embarking on the next phase of OCUFA’s advocacy work collectively.”

The following members will join Narain on the OCUFA Executive:

  • Vice-President, Rob Kristofferson (Wilfrid Laurier University)
  • Treasurer, Tyler Chamberlin (University of Ottawa)
  • Officer at Large, Mike Eklund (Ontario Tech University)
  • Officer at Large, Kimberly Ellis-Hale (Wilfrid Laurier University)
  • Officer at Large, Daniel Paré (University of Ottawa)
  • Past President and Board Chair, Sue Wurtele (Trent University)

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at


For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at

University faculty and academic librarians condemn attack at University of Waterloo

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TORONTO, June 29, 2023 — University faculty and academic librarians in Ontario were deeply disturbed to learn of the recent knife attack in a classroom at the University of Waterloo by a former student. The victims were attacked during a philosophy class focused on gender issues. A professor and two students were taken to hospital with serious injuries, and OCUFA extends sympathy and best wishes for a healing recovery for all injured parties.

“OCUFA and its members condemn all forms of campus violence. We are especially concerned that such an attack would take place during a class on issues of gender and that the attacker is believed to have been motivated by hate regarding gender expression and gender identity,” said OCUFA President Sue Wurtele.

Women, transgender, and nonbinary people experience significantly high rates of violence, threats, and hate. Faculty and academic librarians working and teaching in areas of social justice also face threats and harm for their work. The attacker’s hateful motivations, focused specifically on gender expression and gender identity, are deeply troubling.

“All faculty and academic librarians must be able to teach, research, and work without extremist threats to their safety and livelihoods,” said Wurtele. “OCUFA strongly supports this right.”

OCUFA and its members send solidarity and support to Waterloo’s students, faculty, and staff, in the aftermath of this traumatic incident. Faculty and academic librarians are committed to fostering inclusive, diverse, and safe campuses, and ensuring that those who work, live, and study at Ontario’s universities can do so without fear.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 professors and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at

For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead, at

Organizing for collective strength with OCUFA

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OCUFA’s Contract Faculty Committee held a full-day workshop on May 26th full of inspiring speakers and hands-on organizing training. Keynote speaker Laura Walton, President of the CUPE Ontario School Board Council of Unions, shared how education workers engaged in the deep organizing necessary to mobilize people across Ontario in support of their bargaining demands, to crush Bill 28, and win a solid collective agreement.  

There have been some incredible success in the university and broader public sector that prove to us that when we push back together, we can win! The day’s sessions foregrounded the experiences of our colleagues who have been on the ground, organizing, bargaining, and winning improvements for contract faculty. 

The workshop consisted of multiple, hands-on sessions and participants walked away with tools for how to beat apathy, engage members, and learn about what it takes to win good jobs for contract faculty!

Organizing for Collective Strength text with photos of faculty engaging in a workshop.

The Ontario Universities and Colleges Coalition (OUCC) Joint Statement on Ontario’s Blue-Ribbon Panel

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TORONTO, June 1, 2023 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO), Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation (OSSTF/FESSO), Canadian Federation of Students (CFS-Ontario), Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) are deeply concerned about the composition, lack of transparency, and unknown mandate of the government’s so-called Blue Ribbon Panel on postsecondary institutions’ financial stability and student experience.

We find the exclusion of current students, staff and faculty from the panel deeply irresponsible and out of touch with the present realities of postsecondary education. Although the panel will conduct consultations, these consultations are not equivalent to being represented on the panel that will make recommendations that will impact Ontario’s postsecondary sector for years to come.

Moreover, the very chair of this panel, Dr Alan Harrison, was appointed as a special advisor to the government on the Laurentian University insolvency. He produced four reports, none of which were made public. The insolvency resulted in a massive restructuring which included the elimination of 76 academic programs, affecting the academic careers of more than 900 students and the loss of 340 jobs at Laurentian and the federated universities. Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found the use of creditor protection by Laurentian to be “unsuitable and damaging.” The concern for the future of public post-secondary education is justified by the makeup of the panel, excluding key players in the sector and prioritizing those with a history of dismantling public institutions.

We are concerned the panel will call for more privatization of student support services, elimination of select programs, potential mergers between northern institutions, increased precarity of employment, expansion of hybrid and online learning at the expense of quality hands-on learning, and redirection of apprenticeship funding to private training centres. It is reckless to continue underfunding the postsecondary sector and heavily relying on international and domestic tuition fees, placing education and research quality, secure employment and the integrity of Ontario’s institutions in jeopardy.
All of the threats above will have deep implications through cuts to staff and faculty, hugely diminishing student experience as well as the social and economic vitality of the regions where the post-secondary institutions are located.

Our experience is that the chronic and systemic underfunding of postsecondary education is causing damage to the student experience and the Ontario economy. Ontario sits last in the country in terms of per-student funding. Only 30 per cent of the operating budgets of universities and 38 per cent of the operating budgets of colleges come from the province. Despite the Ontario’s government’s regular claims of historic investments and innovation in post-secondary education, the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) is projecting annual shortfalls through 2027-28 in public funding totaling $40 billion, including a $2.7 billion shortfall in funding for post-secondary education.

It is clear this lack of investment in our public universities and colleges is setting up the system for failure, which would set up students, workers, communities and future generations for failure as well. The growing reliance of postsecondary institutions on private funding threatens intellectual standards and harms the quality of student experience.

Now is not the time to shortchange post-secondary education in Ontario. The economic benefits of investing in post-secondary education are, by the government’s own admission, too important to ignore. Every dollar invested in education generates a positive economic return on investment of 36%.
There is a better way – a more sustainable way forward for post-secondary education in Ontario, and it will require responsible leadership that invests in public services and institutions.

We urge the panel to ensure robust and sustainable funding for Ontario’s public colleges and universities to protect high-quality teaching and student supports. We also call for transparency, accountability, and public funding to allow our public post-secondary institutions to thrive. In order to ensure the longevity and health of Ontario’s institutions, education quality and student experience must be prioritized over the interests of the private sector.

It is time for the government to prioritize the needs and expertise of students, academic professionals, support workers and faculty. We ask the panel to address these urgent issues and take immediate action to ensure the future of public education in Ontario.

– ### –
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA)
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO)
Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation (OSSTF/FESSO)
Canadian Federation of Students (CFS-Ontario)
Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)
Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)

View PDF.

Job Posting: Director of Policy and Government Affairs

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Permanent, Regular, Full-Time Position (Policy Level B)
Deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 16, 2023

Working under the supervision of the Executive Director, the successful candidate for Director of Policy and Government Affairs will help guide OCUFA’s policy analysis, legislative strategy, and government relations work on behalf of Ontario’s university faculty and academic librarians. The Director of Policy and Government Affairs will be part of a dynamic team of policy staff who work collaboratively to deliver the services required to meet OCUFA’s mandate, provide support for OCUFA’s member organizations, and assist in related advocacy initiatives.


Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 university faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members toward creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at

Areas of Responsibility

  • Monitoring and reporting on legislative, policy and regulatory activity that may impact the postsecondary sector, OCUFA, and its member organizations;
  • Developing public policy positions focusing on internal strategic priorities;
  • Drafting government correspondence, submissions, and position papers;
  • Participating in government meetings, consultations, roundtables, and conferences;
  • Organizing government meetings, events, receptions, and lobby days;
  • Cultivating and maintaining constructive relationships with Ontario government, opposition parties, and relevant government agencies, as well as unions and organizations in the education sector;
  • Working with staff to develop campaigns and advocacy priorities and initiatives;
  • Preparing speaking notes, correspondence, reports, and briefing notes for OCUFA’s President, Executive Director, Executive, Board, and relevant committees;
  • Collaborating with the communications team on Academic Matters, OCUFA Report, social media, and other projects as appropriate;
  • Providing staff support to OCUFA Executive, Board, assigned committees, workshops and conferences; and
  • Other duties as assigned from time to time to meet the changing needs of OCUFA.

Skills and Requirements

  • Superb written and oral communication skills;
  • Demonstrated record of providing policy analysis, research and strategic advice under pressure;
  • An in-depth understanding of the postsecondary sector and education policy in Ontario and Canada;
  • 10 years of experience in government relations and policy analysis working with advocacy organizations, labour unions, provincial government, public sector agencies, or professional associations;
  • Knowledge of the current policy landscape in Ontario and Canada, and a keen sense of how to identify potential issues, opportunities, and trends required;
  • Knowledge and experience with Ontario labour unions and the broader labour movement in Canada;
  • Experience and an established reputation as an effective and ethical government relations professional;
  • Project management skills and the ability to guide the work of others;
  • Ability to work on projects individually and in collaboration with other staff members independent of supervision;
  • A proficient level of computer literacy and social media skills; and
  • A minimum of a graduate degree and experience in government relations and policy analysis or the equivalent combination of education and work experience.


This is a permanent, regular, full-time position, classified as Policy Level B, as defined in the terms and conditions of employment governed by the Collective Agreement between OCUFA and CUPE Local 1281. The salary range for this position is $119,153.87 to $138,314.91. Full benefits are offered in accordance with the Collective Agreement. All OCUFA staff act under the direction and authority of the Executive Director.

Based at the OCUFA office in Toronto, Ontario, with the option of a weekly hybrid work arrangement as detailed in the Collective Agreement. Occasional travel will be required.

OCUFA is a unionized and equal-opportunity employer that is committed to the principle of employment equity and welcomes diversity in the workplace.

Please submit your cover letter, resume, and the names of three references, packaged in one PDF, to by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 16, 2023.

Western librarians, archivists, and faculty demand their Employer fund the front line!

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 Members of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) held a well-attended campaign launch at the Western Grad Club. Representatives from OCUFA, PSAC 610, and UWOFA leadership rallied behind the librarian and archivist unit who will begin bargaining next week. Fair compensation, sustainable workloads and growing the complement are key concerns. It is critical that the Western Administration funds the front line and reinvests in the librarians and archivists and faculty at Western who uphold the teaching and research mission at the university. 

Faculty welcome Liberal government review of bankruptcy laws for public post-secondary institutions

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TORONTO, May 1, 2023 – Ontario faculty and academic librarians applauded today’s announcement from the federal government that consultations will begin soon to reform corporate restructuring legislation that caused massive devastation at Laurentian University in 2021.

Following through on a 2021 Liberal election platform commitment, the Trudeau Government announced that the consultations will be held over the next 30 days with universities, experts, lenders and other stakeholders. The move marks a critical step in the right direction towards protecting public institutions from inappropriate and destructive corporate restructuring processes.

“The government’s decision to consult with stakeholders on this issue is welcome news for all Canadians who cherish public universities in this country, and this announcement indicates a commitment to helping our post-secondary institutions thrive in the future,” said Sue Wurtele, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.

“Since 2021, OCUFA and our allies have been fighting for changes to the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA), which are meant for private—not public—entities,” she added. “It’s time to move forward and prevent another disaster like the one Canadians saw at Laurentian University.”

Over the last two years, Canadians have expressed outrage over the devastating cuts at Laurentian University, and questioned the application of federal laws designed for corporations to a public university. OCUFA has worked closely with the Laurentian University Faculty Association and community allies to campaign for new legal protections for all public institutions. Since then, nearly 5,000 emails have been sent to federal legislators demanding action to reform the CCAA and BIA.

“Today’s announcement opens the door to remedy a shamefully misguided law. Now the hard work of collaborating with the government and these stakeholders begins,” said Wurtele. “We must ensure that these laws are changed—and soon—to properly safeguard the vital public universities that we, and all Canadians, rely on and value.”

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at


For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at

Emerging from Bill 124: Appeal update

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The Ford government has submitted its factum to the Ontario Court of Appeal in its case against the Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s declaration that Bill 124 violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. OCUFA supports the Superior Court’s declaration of Bill 124 as null and void, and opposes the government’s decision to file an appeal.
In this statement, legal counsel for the Ford government dismissed Justice Koehnen’s conclusion that Bill 124 caused substantial interference of collective bargaining. The government makes the narrow argument that restraining wages to a one per cent cap in and of itself did not prevent the ability of unions to proceed with meaningful and good faith negotiations. The Ford government also claims that Justice Koehnen failed to recognize unions’ ability under Bill 124 to seek an exemption from the salary cap and pursue the right to strike.
While Bill 124 did not prohibit the right to strike (and strikes did occur while unions were restrained by this legislation), Justice Koehnen did point out that unions were significantly limited in their scope of bargaining and prevented from meaningful and fulsome negotiations, including trading salary demands for non-compensatory gains such as decreases to unsustainable workload demands. Power dynamics between parties at the bargaining table were significantly compromised, amidst pandemic pressures and spikes in inflation.
The government’s appeal is ongoing despite recognizing that Bill 124 is no longer in effect. Court dates have been set for June 20-23, 2023.

For further information and updates on the Superior Court ruling, appeal, and successes post-Bill 124, please visit the OCUFA page on Bill 124

Emerging from Bill 124: Key future dates

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The Ford government officially filed an appeal in December 2022 against the Superior Court’s decision that declared Bill 124 unconstitutional. Key dates in the ongoing process include:  

  • March 10 – The government’s written factum was submitted 
  • May 9 – The unions’ responses will be filed 
  • June 20-22 – The scheduled hearings at the Ontario Court of Appeal 

OCUFA has been monitoring the situation closely and continues to do so. In February, OCUFA published a statement responding to the decision by the Ontario Superior Court that Bill 124 was unconstitutional.  
Catch up on related bargaining gains for faculty associations, including at Trent, Wilfrid Laurier, and Queen’s. 

Budget can’t miss another opportunity to protect universities

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TORONTO, March 24, 2023 –Ontario university faculty demand that the federal government make good on their election platform promise to protect public universities and other public institutions by amending destructive corporate restructuring legislation—a no-cost move that could save millions and preserve Canadian communities.

“In 2021, the government squandered an opportunity to protect public institutions from corporate legislation in their last budget. Now’s the time to act on their promise and not miss another chance,” said Sue Wurtele, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “When Laurentian University filed for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), it became the first public university in Canada to do so—with devastating consequences for the institution and the Sudbury community. The government has an opportunity in this budget to make sure it never happens again.”

OCUFA and its allies have called on the government to exempt public institutions from seeking protection through corporate legislation since 2021.That’s when Laurentian administrators filed for creditor protection under the CCAA—an unprecedented decision resulting in the loss of 69 university programs and 200 faculty and staff jobs.

“The CCAA and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) are federal pieces of legislation specifically designed for private-sector corporations, not public institutions. However, in their current form, these acts can be used to dismantle and restructure public institutions in particular ways, as we saw with Laurentian,” said Wurtele. “If other public institutions, like universities and hospitals, are allowed to invoke the CCAA or BIA, the results will be destructive.”

In late 2022, Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk deemed the CCAA process an inappropriate remedy for addressing the financial challenges of public institutions. And documents released in 2022 showed that the Ford government knew of Lawrentian’s financial situation, they offered little meaningful assistance to Laurentian and its community during a time of crisis. To prevent another crisis, all levels of government have a role to play, said Wurtele.

“Public universities are pillars of their communities, and are vital spaces for teaching, learning, and research,” she said. “The federal government has an opportunity to ensure that they—and all public institutions—won’t be vulnerable to the same destruction suffered at Laurentian, by amending the CCAA and BIA to exempt public institutions now.”

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at


For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at or 416-306-6033

Budget falls short on investment in Ontario universities

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TORONTO, March 23, 2023 – The Ford government continued its streak of neglecting Ontario’s public universities in the provincial budget, tabled today at Queen’s Park. The government failed to meaningfully invest in universities, which university faculty warn may lead to more privatization and instability for students, faculty, and staff on campuses.

“Ontario sits last in the country in terms of per-student funding from the government, so there is nowhere to go but up. But today’s budget doesn’t accomplish even this. It fails to include enough investment to adequately fund our universities,” said Sue Wurtele, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “The government claims to want to help Ontarians with high student debt, high tuition fees, and improving the financial health of our universities, but its choices provide no real solutions, insufficient financial support and, as such, reveal that they aren’t serious.”

The budget includes no additional operating funding for universities, nor an increase in per-student funding. The government announced additional seats for medical and nursing students, but provided no details on the allocation of those seats, no funding commitment for faculty to teach new students, and no assurance that instruction won’t be privatized.

The consequences of continuing to underfund colleges and universities will have far-reaching effects for all Ontarians.

Insufficient funding from the government, on a per-student and operating basis, has created an unsustainable dynamic for Ontario’s universities, in which they increasingly rely on high tuition fees from international students as a significant source of revenue. Short-term tuition freezes recently proposed by the government—applicable to only some students—will provide some much-needed relief in the immediate term for students struggling with the high cost of living. But this approach fails to address the larger issue of chronic underfunding of public universities in the province.

“Only robust, long-term public funding will ensure the long-term financial health of our universities. The Ford government has once again failed to invest in the vibrant public institutions we rely on,” said Wurtele. “Ontario’s citizens expect our government to support our world-class public universities. The government should be focused on making sure our universities thrive instead of starving them of the resources they need.”

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at


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Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at or 416-306-6033.