A new video produced by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations profiles 2016-2017 Teaching Award Winner and McMaster University professor Milena Head. The video premiered during a special ceremony celebrating the winners of the 2018 Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards.
Le récent énoncé économique du gouvernement de l’Ontario en automne dernier a révélé que les progressistes-conservateurs ne financeraient plus ni n’iraient de l’avant avec l’université de langue française devant être construite à Toronto. Dans le cadre d’une tendance devenue inquiétante pour ce gouvernement, l’annonce a été faite sans discussion avec les intervenants du secteur, notamment les professeurs et les étudiants et, ce qui est encore plus inquiétant, sans consulter la communauté francophone de l’Ontario.
Le Conseil de planification pour une université de langue française et le gouvernement provincial précédent avaient passé plusieurs années à consulter les Ontariens et à élaborer une vision pour la nouvelle université censée être un établissement autonome créé par et pour les francophones. L’« Université de l’Ontario français » devait avoir pour but de servir le centre et le sud-ouest de l’Ontario, là où la population de francophones de la province connaît la plus forte croissance.
L’annulation du projet de l’université de langue française est surprenante, en partie parce que Doug Ford lui-même avait promis pendant sa campagne électorale que le projet irait de l’avant. Après l’annulation du financement de trois campus d’expansion et une directive menaçant de réduire le financement des universités qui ne disciplinent pas les voix dissidentes sur les campus, le gouvernement progressiste-conservateur de Ford remet en question son soutien aux universités publiques dynamiques de l’Ontario, à la liberté d’expression et à la population francophone de la province, qui compte plus de 600 000 personnes.
Il est très inquiétant que ce gouvernement annule l’université de langue française qui avait été promise, sans consulter au préalable les étudiants, les parents et les professeurs francophones. Cette décision témoigne d’un manque de respect envers la population francophone minoritaire de l’Ontario, et la frustration des francophones est justifiée.
En réponse à l’annonce de Doug Ford, les délégués réunis à la 85e assemblée du Conseil de l’Association canadienne des professeures et professeurs d’université (ACPPU) ont adopté à l’unanimité une résolution condamnant la décision du gouvernement conservateur ontarien d’annuler le projet de l’Université de l’Ontario français sans avoir consulté la communauté franco-ontarienne. Une lettre par l’ACPPU a été envoyée au premier ministre ontarien Ford qui souligne ces inquiétudes.
Les professeurs de l’Ontario s’inquiètent du fait que le gouvernement continue de prendre des décisions de cette ampleur à huis clos et en secret. L’annulation de l’université de langue française fournit une autre preuve que le gouvernement de Doug Ford n’est pas disposé à écouter les Ontariens, mais qu’il s’est plutôt engagé à poursuivre un programme idéologique malavisé et irresponsable.
The Ontario Government’s recent fall economic statement revealed that the Progressive Conservatives would no longer be funding or moving forward with the French-language university set to be built in Toronto. In what has become a disturbing trend for this government, the announcement was made without any discussion with sector stakeholders, including faculty and students, and, more distressingly, without any consultation with Ontario’s Francophone community.
Conceived as an autonomous institution that would be created by and for Francophones, the French-language University Planning Board and previous provincial government had spent several years consulting with Ontarians, and developing a vision for the new university. The “Université de l’Ontario français” was meant to serve central and southwestern Ontario, home to the fastest growing population of Francophones in the province.
The cancellation of the planned French-language university was a surprise, in part, because Doug Ford himself had promised during his election campaign that the project would go ahead. Following the cancellation of funding for three extension campuses and a directive threatening to cut funding from universities that fail to discipline dissenting campus voices, Ford’s Progressive Conservative government has called into question its support for Ontario’s vibrant public universities, free speech, and the province’s Francophone population of more than 600,000.
It is deeply concerning that this government would cancel the promised French-language university without first consulting Francophone students, parents, and faculty. The decision marks a distinct lack of respect for Ontario’s minority French-speaking population, and Francophones are justified in their frustration.
In response to Ford’s announcement, delegates attending the 85th Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Council meeting this past weekend unanimously adopted a motion condemning the Ontario Conservative government for canceling plans for the Université de l’Ontario français without consulting Franco-Ontarians. The CAUT has written a letter to the Ontario Premier expressing these concerns.
Faculty across Ontario are alarmed that the government continues to make decisions of this magnitude behind closed doors in secret. The cancelled French-language university is further evidence that the Doug Ford government is not interested in listening to Ontarians, but is instead committed to pursuing an uninformed and unaccountable ideological agenda.
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is excited to announce the $10,000 OCUFA Fellowship in Higher Education Journalism.
In recent years, there has been a marked shortage of informed investigative reporting on Canadian higher education issues in the Canadian media. The OCUFA Fellowship in Higher Education Journalism is intended to help address this gap, and support those wishing to pursue in-depth journalism on higher education.
The Fellowship is open to full-time, part-time, and freelance journalists, including students, who wish to pursue an investigative research project in the area of Canadian higher education. Applications focusing on any topic within this area are welcomed, including public policy, labour relations, the academic labour market, governance, financing, teaching, research, librarianship and information management, demographics, education quality, free speech and academic freedom, equity and diversity, indigeneity, and reconciliation.
The deadline for applications is January 25, 2019. The Fellowship is valued at $10,000 and administered by OCUFA, with the first half payable at the start of the project and the second half upon completion. The winner will have to complete and publish and/or broadcast the project within a year of being granted the Fellowship. OCUFA will not exercise any editorial control or judgment over the work produced.
To learn more about the fellowship and to apply, please visit:
The York University Faculty Association (YUFA) has reached a three-year agreement with the York University administration. As part of the settlement, YUFA achieved a commitment from the university to hire six Indigenous faculty over the life of the agreement, and to work with the faculty association to undertake an equal pay exercise for women, racialized and Indigenous faculty members. YUFA achieved across-the-board salary increases competitive with other faculty associations and benefits improvements for active members and retirees. Additionally, the faculty association secured a commitment to index long-term disability and pensions to the Consumer Price Index, improved parental leave provisions, and increases to their Trans Health Fund.
The Osgoode Hall Faculty Association (OHFA) reached a three-year agreement with the York University administration. OHFA gained increases to the anomaly fund and a commitment from the university administration to review faculty salaries with the goal of addressing disparities for self-identified females, members of racialized groups, and Indigenous faculty members. The faculty association secured benefits improvements for active members and retirees as well as long-term disability and pension indexation to the Consumer Price Index. Finally, OHFA also achieved across-the-board salary increases competitive with other faculty associations.
On November 13, faculty from across the province gathered at Queen’s Park for a day advocating for stronger public funding for postsecondary education, fairness for contract faculty, and good jobs.
The day started with a breakfast reception attended by numerous MPPs and their staff. The reception featured remarks from David Piccini, the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities; Chris Glover, the NDP critic for colleges and universities, and Mike Schreiner, the Leader of the Green Party.
During the day, faculty met with more than 35 MPPs representing all political parties, many of whom have universities in or adjacent to their ridings. With a new government in place and many new faces at Queen’s Park, this fall’s advocacy day provided an important opportunity for MPPs to learn about faculty priorities, including:
- protecting and expanding public funding for postsecondary education in Ontario to promote quality and accessibility;
- delivering fairness for contract faculty and committing to supporting good jobs on university campuses; and
- moving away from punitive university funding models based on performance metrics and urging greater consultation with faculty about university funding frameworks.
As in previous years, faculty gathered in advance to strategize and prepare for their meetings. OCUFA representatives also had a strong social media presence throughout the day, reporting on their meetings with MPPs and the issues they discussed.
Advocacy Day facilitated many important conversations. It is hoped that these conversations with MPPs will continue, not just at Queen’s Park, but also in the ridings where faculty live and work.
Michael Conlon will be the next Executive Director of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. Dr. Conlon comes to OCUFA following four years as Executive Director of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA BC). He brings with him decades of experience, expertise, and knowledge working in the university sector, including in labour and government relations. Michael will officially take over as Executive Director on January 1, 2019.
Dr. Conlon’s hiring follows the announcement that longtime Executive Director Mark Rosenfeld will be retiring from the position to pursue other projects, including organizing the 2019 Worldviews Conference on Media and Higher Education.
On Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 21, OCUFA held its first Board of Directors Meeting of the 2018-19 academic year. The weekend oriented new board members to OCUFA and allowed members to discuss the results of the 2018 provincial election and what it could mean for Ontario’s universities. With that context, members reviewed OCUFA’s priorities for the academic year: good jobs, university funding, and capacity building. On Saturday, during a special lunchtime reception, board members and colleagues celebrated the winners of the 2018 OCUFA Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards.
The election of Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative (PC) government will mean new challenges in the years to come. With announcements requiring universities to draft free speech policies and cancelling funding for expansion campuses in the GTA, the Ford’s government has shown they not only have different interests than the previous government, but do not believe in consulting with sector stakeholders or the public before making significant decisions. OCUFA’s priorities for the 2018-2019 year have been strategically framed in ways most likely to gain traction with the new government, and particular attention has been paid to areas where the new government is most likely to be active.
Advocating for good jobs has been one of OCUFA’s long-term goals and has taken on particular urgency in recent years as the nature of academic work has shifted dramatically. Research suggests the number of courses taught by contract faculty at Ontario universities has doubled since 2000 and at least 58 per cent of faculty are now working on contract. With full-time faculty hiring lagging behind student enrolment, workload and faculty complement have also emerged as key challenges. Delivering fairness for contract faculty and committing to faculty renewal will create more good jobs on our campuses and ensure students have access to the quality learning experience they deserve. To this end, OCUFA intends to:
- continue to advocate for decent work reforms to employment and labour law (including a vacation pay increases, improved consolidation provisions, better leaves, and equal pay measures) and stand up to this government’s regressive attack on workers’ rights;
- continue working as part of the Fight for $15 and Fairness to speak up for workers, including faculty;
- advocate for fairness for contract faculty, and work toward fostering solidarity between full-time and contract faculty;
- defend existing full-time faculty complement and respond to any cuts or freezes;
- continue working with opposition parties to keep the need for faculty renewal on the agenda; and
- continue to pursue initiatives that support good pension plans and benefits that respond to the interests and concerns of faculty associations and their members.
Strong public funding for universities is necessary to support excellence in teaching and research, and accessible postsecondary education for Ontarians from diverse backgrounds. Yet, over the past few years, the Ontario Budget has not included any new public funding for universities. As a result, Ontario’s universities continue to trail the rest of the country in per-student funding for the eighth consecutive year. Given the savings the current Progressive Conservative government claims are needed to balance the budget, proposals to cut postsecondary education might come sooner than later. Already, the government has announced the defunding of four university campuses, the latest being the proposed new francophone university. Faculty at Ontario’s universities are already trying to do more with less and further cuts will threaten the quality of education available to students. The new government has also indicated a strong interest in expanding outcomes-based funding and it is likely that the component of “at risk” funding tied to performance outcomes will increase. With that in mind, during the next year, OCUFA intends to:
- advocate for stable, consistent, and adequate base funding for Ontario universities;
- increase engagement with members and other sector stakeholders to push back against outcome-based funding;
- advocate for meaningful consultations at the provincial and local level as part of the Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) negotiation process; and
- support faculty associations in responding to the third round of SMA negotiations to ensure faculty voices are included in local consultations.
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 produce stronger unions and a university labour movement able to more effectively tackle these problems. This includes building committees and networks within faculty associations that bring together contract faculty and sessional members who are directly impacted by precarious work, and building solidarity between contract and full-time faculty members.
Reflecting on the new political reality in Ontario
During a special presentation, Doug Nesbitt, founding editor of RankandFile.ca, detailed the resistance to the populist PC government of Mike Harris in the late 1990s. Nesbitt, drawing on academic research he has done for his PhD, spoke about the lessons learned from the Harris years and how they could inform the political strategies employed by OCUFA. The presentation was followed by a session in which board members broke out into groups and engaged in substantive discussions about how they believe Ontario’s faculty can most effectively influence the current Doug Ford government.
Celebrating excellence in teaching
Finally, a special luncheon gala celebrated the recipients of this year’s Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards. Since 1973, these awards have recognized the exceptional contributions made by professors and librarians to the quality of higher education in Ontario.
The 2017-2018 Teaching Award recipients are:
- Michelle Craig, Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto
- Robert Fleisig, Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Practice and Technology at McMaster University
- David Hutchison, Professor in the Department of Educational Studies and Director of the Centre for Digital Humanities at Brock University
- Fiona Rawle, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga
- Frankie Stewart, Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Ryerson University
The luncheon featured a keynote address from Nana aba Duncan, host of CBC’s Fresh Air, who shared thoughtful and touching stories about her experiences in postsecondary education. Attendees were also shown the premiere of a new video profiling former Teaching Award winner Milena Head.
The next OCUFA Board of Directors Meeting will be held February 9-10, 2019.
On Thursday, November 15, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Government released its fall economic statement. The 155-page document offers an update on the status of Ontario’s finances and contains numerous government announcements across many different sectors. Also known as the mini-budget, the fall economic statement outlines some of the government’s plans for the public sector and offers insight into upcoming budgetary decisions.
As expected, the recurring themes in this year’s statement are provincial deficit and debt levels and the need to create efficiencies to limit government spending. Of particular interest to faculty and campus community are the announcements regarding public sector bargaining, pensions, executive compensation, and university free speech policies. You can read OCUFA’s full summary and analysis of these announcements here.
The statement also announced the government’s cancellation of the French-language university that was set to be built in Toronto.
Conceived as an autonomous institution that would be created by and for Francophones, the cancellation of the planned university was a surprise, in part, because Doug Ford himself had promised the project would go ahead. Following the cancellation of the three extension campuses in the Greater Toronto Area, this continues a concerning trend of the government cutting funding for new university campuses without any consultation.
After years of planning for the French-language university, the decision to pull the plug on the project was made without input from sector stakeholders or members of the francophone community. It is alarming that the government has chosen to make these decisions behind closed doors in secret. This is further evidence the Doug Ford government is not interested in listening to Ontarians, but is instead committed to pursuing an uninformed and unaccountable ideological agenda.
A new report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives provides yet more evidence that Canadian universities heavily rely on precariously-employed contract faculty. According to data obtained through freedom of information requests to all 78 publicly-funded Canadian universities, more than 50 per cent of all university faculty appointments across Canada are now contract positions.
A number of Ontario universities and colleges are paying members of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) – the business lobby group advocating for the rollback of fair labour laws, including paid sick days, fair scheduling rights, and equal pay for contract, part-time and casual workers, in addition to the cancellation of the $15 minimum wage.
Given the devastating impacts Bill 47 will have on our campus communities, why are universities and colleges members of this organization? As public institutions committed to expanding knowledge, should universities be supporting a group that spreads misinformation and advocates against basic protections that benefit thousands of students and campus workers?
The majority of Ontarians support decent work laws because they understand their benefits. Universities and colleges should publicly distance themselves from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to undermine fair labour laws and reconsider their memberships with this organization.
Below is a full list of the public colleges and universities in Ontario who are members of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce:
- Brock University
- Centennial College
- George Brown College
- Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
- Niagara College
- Ryerson University
- Seneca College
- St Lawrence College
- University of Guelph
- University of Toronto
- University of Ontario Institute of Technology
- University of Windsor
- Wilfrid Laurier University
- York University
On Friday, November 2nd, students, faculty, and campus workers in Ottawa visited the constituency office of Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, to speak with her about the impact Bill 47 will have on postsecondary education. More than 50 participants from the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Saint Paul University, Algonquin College, College La Cité, and OPSEU Local 470 attended a rally in front of her office.
“Bill 47 will result in the continued rise of precarious work on our campuses, which will undoubtedly have consequences on the quality of education,” said Susan Spronk, President of the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO). “About half of the professors who teach at the University of Ottawa are working on part-time contracts, making about half the salary of full-time professors for similar work, with reduced capacity to host regular office hours, provide detailed feedback on students’ assignments, or write letters of reference. This is unfair to both contract faculty and students.”
Speakers also noted the devastating implications that repealing equal pay laws, fair scheduling provisions, paid sick days, and the $15 minimum wage will have on campus communities.
As part of the rally, participants attempted to deliver a pledge to the Minister, asking her to vote against Bill 47. However, even though it was constituency day, when MPPs are supposed to be in their riding offices meeting with the public, Fullerton’s office was closed. Attendees ended the rally by leaving the Minister a note and phone message asking her to call them back.
The rally in Ottawa is part of a series of actions taking place across Ontario since the introduction of Bill 47. Check out 15andfairness.org/events to join an event near you.
The University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) has been working hard to negotiate a fair deal with the university administration. Years of budget cuts have left teachers and researchers over-worked and under-supported.
Contract faculty at Western deserve job security. Just a few days ago, three very popular faculty members did not have their contracts renewed in the Department of History. This happened, despite the fact that, over the last six years, Western has accrued over half a billion dollars in operating budget surpluses.
UWOFA is fighting for meaningful job security for contract faculty and fair compensation for all faculty members, but time is running out.
Help UWOFA avoid a strike.
Faculty across the province are deeply disappointed that recent improvements to labour laws could be cancelled if Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act is passed. Rolling back equal pay, options for consolidating bargaining units, fairer rules for joining unions, and other basic rights represent a major step backwards in efforts to address precarious work across the province.
Limited consultation is now taking place on Bill 47 with requests to present at hearings and written recommendations due November 13th and 15th respectively to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.
In a letter sent on November 5th, OCUFA urged the Committee to withdraw all elements of Bill 47 that reverse recent improvements to Ontario’s labour law. Workers on university campuses and in communities across the province are counting on these modest but important labour law improvements to support themselves and their families.
Read the full letter from OCUFA President Gyllian Phillips:
Dear Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs,
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) represents over 17,000 professors and academic librarians at 29 faculty associations at every university in Ontario. OCUFA represents full-time tenure-stream faculty, and at many universities also represents contract faculty members who work either on a limited-term contract or on a per-course basis.
Faculty across the province are deeply disappointed that recent improvements to labour laws could be cancelled if Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act is passed. University professors and academic librarians have been strong advocates for improving labour laws to address precarious work and promote decent work. Faculty welcomed the modest and reasonable changes to labour law in Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act that brought more fairness to workplaces. Dismantling this legislation will have major implications for faculty and our campus communities.
Under existing labour laws, employers are required to offer the same rate of pay to contract, part-time, casual, temporary and seasonal employees, who are doing substantially the same work in the same workplaces as their full-time or permanent counterparts. As long as the work requires substantially the same skills, effort and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions, the equal pay provisions apply. There are exceptions in cases of seniority and merit, as well as for “any other factor”. But the criteria must be transparent and accessible to all workers.
This provision has been in effect for seven months, and represents an important step towards fair pay in postsecondary education and throughout the labour market. It has created a welcome new minimum standard of fairness for contract, part-time, and temporary workers. At Ontario colleges, this legislation has resulted in substantive pay increases for thousands of contract faculty. Unfortunately, broad exceptions and loopholes in this equal pay measure have allowed many employers to continue to avoid paying workers fairly, including contract faculty at Ontario universities.
Repealing this provision, as set out in Bill 47, would be a step back for contract workers, at a time when major progress is needed to deliver fairness for contract faculty and address precarious work on our campuses. Over half of university professors in Ontario now work on contract without job security, and too many are doing the same work as their full-time colleagues for lower pay. Repealing equal pay measures will be felt most acutely by already marginalized workers – racialized, female, and gender non-conforming contract faculty often work more hours and are more likely to be in low-income households than their white male peers.
OCUFA recommends that the repeal of equal pay based on employment status be withdrawn. Existing equal pay provisions should remain in place and be improved to remove loopholes that limit effective application for all contract, part-time, casual, temporary and seasonal employees.
Consolidation of bargaining units
Bill 148 brought in two separate measures governing the consolidation of bargaining units. Under the first provision, faculty associations can request that the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) merge a newly certified bargaining unit with one or more existing units. The second measure allows for a review of the structure of existing units in the same union, but requires agreement from the union and employer to be initiated.
Both are appropriate options for promoting effective and efficient collective bargaining. A number of faculty associations in Ontario have multiple bargaining units as a result of different groups of workers being organized at different times. Consolidation results in less time devoted to bargaining for the union and the employer, and makes collective agreements easier to manage. More efficient bargaining is better for everyone. In addition, having a legal route available to request mergers curbs future fragmentation.
If Bill 47 is passed, these options will be repealed and replaced with a new set of legal parameters for reviewing the structure of bargaining units. Under Bill 47, parties bringing the application forward must prove that the bargaining units are “no longer appropriate for collective bargaining”, which seems to require failure rather than an emphasis on improvement. The legislation also grants expanded powers to the OLRB that undermine a worker’s right to choose their own union representation. It also threatens to destabilize labour relations, especially in instances where more than one union is involved by opening the door to unnecessary workplace conflict.
OCUFA recommends that the new provision for reviewing the structure of bargaining units be withdrawn. Existing options for consolidation of bargaining units should remain in place.
Fairer rules for joining a union
Recent changes to labour law brought modest reforms to make it easier to join a union in Ontario. Workers in home care, building services, and temporary help agencies now have access to card-based certification; unions have access to employee lists in an organizing drive after 20 per cent of the workers show interest in joining a union; access to remedial certification and return-to-work rights after a strike or lockout were improved; and access to first contract arbitration was expanded. The repeal of these rules under Bill 47 represents a major step backwards in ensuring workers have access to collective representation to make improvements to their working conditions.
Unions play an important role in reducing income inequality and improving workplace fairness. At Ontario’s universities, faculty have recognized the value of collective representation for decades. In recent years, as precarious jobs on university campuses are reaching unprecedented numbers, effective unions will be essential for achieving more security, fair pay, and access to benefits. This is not just the case at universities, but also in other sectors of the economy.
OCUFA recommends that all aspects of Bill 47 that make it more difficult for workers to exercise their right to join a union be withdrawn.
Faculty have also been strong advocates for broader fairness measures that the government is attempting to roll back in Bill 47, including the $15 minimum wage, paid sick days, and fair scheduling. Freezing the minimum wage at $14 an hour until October 1, 2020 will hurt low-wage workers who are struggling to pay for basic necessities. This includes our students, many of whom are working part-time jobs at minimum wage to pay high tuition fees. Eliminating two paid sick days and making personal emergency leave provisions more restrictive will mean more workers going to work sick, which is bad for public health. Retracting fair scheduling measures means even less predictability for workers trying to balance childcare, school or other needs with their work life.
Addressing precarious work at Ontario universities is also crucial for ensuring high-quality education for students. Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions. Contract faculty are excellent teachers, but without job security, fair pay or dedicated office space, they cannot always be available to provide the mentorship vital for student success. The same is true for other campus workers who provide services and support to students. The government can support quality education by setting a standard of good jobs at Ontario universities. Rolling back recent gains works against this goal.
OCUFA urges the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to withdraw all elements of Bill 47 that reverse recent improvements to Ontario’s labour law. Workers on university campuses and in communities across the province are counting on these modest but important labour law improvements to support themselves and their families.
Gyllian Phillips, OCUFA President
TORONTO, November 5, 2018 – The Ontario Universities and Colleges Coalition (OUCC), which represents more than 435,000 faculty, students, and staff at every public postsecondary institution in the province, is calling on the Ontario Government to protect decent work laws. Millions of workers, including hundreds of thousands employed by or studying at Ontario’s universities and colleges, depend upon basic rights that are now at risk.
At a press conference this morning, representatives of the OUCC detailed their concerns about Bill 47, which would eliminate important protections for precariously employed contract and part-time workers, including the $15 minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, fair scheduling, paid sick days, and fairer rules for joining a union.
If passed, these rollbacks would fundamentally undermine efforts to ensure universities and colleges are model employers who provide job security, fair pay, and benefits for their employees, many of whom are also students. Existing rules requiring that part-time and contract employees receive equal pay for doing the same work as their full-time colleagues were set to provide enormous improvements to the lives of thousands of faculty and support staff at Ontario’s colleges.
“Part-time and contract faculty and staff work hard and deserve equal pay for equal work,” said RM Kennedy, Ontario Public Service Employees Union College Faculty Division Chair and a faculty member at Centennial College. “Repealing these laws will not just hurt these workers, it will hurt their families, it will hurt their communities, and it will hurt students.”
Repealing these laws would also affect students. Many work part-time jobs to help pay for their education and are forced to juggle work and class schedules. Freezing the minimum wage at $14 will make it more difficult for students to pay for tuition, rent, food, and textbooks. In addition, repealing fair scheduling rules will make it harder for students to balance their work shifts with classes and the time they have to set aside for schoolwork.
“Ontario has the highest tuition fees in Canada, and students already struggle to pay for their postsecondary education,” said Nour Alideeb, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario and a student at the University of Toronto–Mississauga. “For students working both on and off campus, reducing the minimum wage, cancelling fair scheduling rules, and repealing equal pay provisions will make it even more difficult to pay the bills.”
At universities and colleges across the province, over half of faculty are now employed through precarious contracts without job security, and are often paid less than their full-time colleagues for the same work. Many are forced to juggle work at multiple institutions just to make ends meet.
“Living contract-to-contract with low pay and anxiously awaiting news about whether we will be hired to teach the next semester is incredibly stressful,” said Kimberly Ellis-Hale, contract faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University and Chair of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations’ Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee. “We should be making progress in addressing fairness for contract faculty, not rolling back reasonable and essential improvements to workers’ rights.”
Academic working conditions are students’ learning conditions, so the rise of low-paid precarious work on Ontario campuses has major implications for education quality. Many students will also be impacted by the repeal of two paid sick days each year. Without paid time off for illness, they will be forced to choose between going to work sick or losing a much needed paycheque.
“The rise of precarious work on Ontario campuses impacts students and the quality of education students receive,” said Hamish Russell, an international graduate student and Canadian Union of Public Employees member at the University of Toronto. “The new labour laws introduced last year provided the foundations for fairer campuses with better working and learning conditions for students.”
Faculty, students, and staff across Ontario know first-hand how important existing labour laws are for the well-being of our families and communities. Ontario workers deserve fair wages and good jobs, including at our universities and colleges. If this government is truly for the people, it should do the right thing and withdraw Bill 47 immediately.
The Ontario Universities and Colleges Coalition represents over 435,000 faculty, staff, and students from every public postsecondary institution in Ontario. It includes members of the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation, Public Service Alliance of Canada, and United Steelworkers.
To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Ben Lewis, Communications Lead
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
firstname.lastname@example.org | 416-306-6033