TORONTO, April 28, 2021 – On April 20th, Ontario faculty, students, and community members took part in a virtual action demanding the resignation of Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano.
Minister Romano has refused to engage with OCUFA or to comment publicly on the situation at Laurentian University. In the absence of being able speak with him directly, a coalition of Ontario postsecondary faculty, students, and community organizers assembled to convey their assessment of his performance, based on criteria that prioritize equity, decolonization, student well-being, and fair resourcing of postsecondary education in Northern Ontario. Determining that Romano had failed to meet these performance criteria, community members informed the Minister that he had been terminated from his position as Minister of Colleges and Universities.
“Minister Romano, you have failed students, faculty, workers, and community members at Laurentian University and throughout Sudbury” said Ontario College of Art and Design Faculty Association Vice-President, Mary Eileen Weenekers. “And for that, you are relieved of your duties as Minister of Colleges and Universities. Ross Romano, you’re fired!”
The Minister’s ceremonial firing came after faculty and staff at Laurentian University experienced their employment being unceremoniously terminated in mass Zoom calls on April 12th. These terminations resulted from a financial crisis at Laurentian created by chronic underfunding, and with the implicit consent of the Ford government.
According to reports from faculty, during these Zoom calls, Laurentian administration representatives made a brief appearance, read from a pre-written statement, and then left the group meetings, often without answering questions by those who had lost their jobs.
In response to the news of these inhumane termination meetings, students, faculty, and community stakeholders from across Ontario conceived of holding a similar firing of Minister Romano.
“This is an attack on the broader education sector in the North,” said Liana Holm, President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario’s Rainbow Teacher Local. “Everyone will suffer because of Minister Romano’s inaction.”
“As Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano has proven himself incompetent at adequately resourcing quality education at our colleges and universities, or of expressing an understanding of education as a public good,” said Terry Maley, executive member of the York University Faculty Association.
The reduction of opportunities for working-class, Francophone and Indigenous peoples in Ontario’s North continues a long tradition of this government’s failure to provide equitable access to postsecondary education for people across Ontario. It is clear that the Ford government and Minister Romano’s decisions indicate a lack of competence in building a resilient, equitable, and sustainable postsecondary education system in Ontario.
“The cuts are appalling and could have been avoided if Minister Romano was doing his job,” said Rahul Sapra, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “Minister Romano must resign immediately.”
Click here for a video summary of the online action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFy4K0I3Z3I by OCADFA.
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 www.ocufa.on.ca.
The Ontario College of Art and Design Faculty Association and York University Faculty Association are member associations of OCUFA.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or firstname.lastname@example.org