Research & Submissions
This primer is intended to provide a wide variety of examples of how to imagine and incorporate an equity lens into the work you are already doing, depending on the size and capacity of your association.Download File
Collegial governance has been increasingly under attack at Ontario universities over the last several years. Faculty and academic librarian associations across the province have raised alarm about how universities are being governed, including a lack of meaningful faculty and academic librarian input and involvement in university decisions, top-down management from increasingly corporatized boards and administrations, and an erosion of transparency and accountability.
The OCUFA University Governance Committee was tasked with developing a resource to assist member associations in protecting and enhancing collegial governance at their institutions. Given the range of governance models at universities across the province and the differences in size and resources among OCUFA member associations, this document provides a wide range of suggestions with the understanding that not all are possible at all institutions. The committee decided to provide a comprehensive list of possible interventions to give member associations a range of strategies to select from based on their individual contexts.
This document speaks to an overall erosion of collegial governance at Ontario’s universities due to increasingly overreaching boards of governors with corporate mentalities and composition. In addition, tenured faculty have become increasingly burdened with other responsibilities and casualized contract faculty—who are not compensated for research or service activities—now make up the majority of teaching faculty on many Ontario campuses. Further, many governance matters have shifted into the realm of administrators, which has led to a decreased awareness of the history and importance of shared governance as well as skepticism about its potential impact. The switch to remote employment during the COVID-19 pandemic only elevated concerns about the lack of faculty and academic librarian engagement in university governance. As faculty and academic librarians return to campuses when it is safe to do so, we must ensure that the shared governance models are respected, as they ensure the proper functioning of our public universities and are formally enshrined in policies and provincial university acts. This document suggests concrete steps that member associations can take to protect against some of the most pronounced threats to shared governance at universities in Ontario.Download File
November 25, 2021
To the Ministry of Colleges and Universities-Postsecondary Accountability Branch,
On behalf of over 17,000 full-time and contract university faculty and academic librarians, including faculty at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University, OCUFA is writing to provide feedback on the proposed summary of regulation under the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University Act, 2021.
We are extremely concerned with what may be an oversight in the “NOSM Summary Regulation” and strongly recommend amending the NOSM regulations in order to protect collegial governance at the institution and to ensure the new university is truly based on a bicameral model of governance. This amendment would ensure that the governance at NOSM remains consistent with all other universities in the province. Our recommendation matches the recommendations of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University Faculty and Staff Association.
In section 4 of the regulation, entitled Senate, the item describing the Senate powers says, “The senate has (subject to the approval of the board) the power to determine and regulate the educational policy of the University and has the power…”
We request that this language be replaced with, “The Senate has, subject to the approval of the board with respect to the expenditure of funds, the power to determine and regulate the educational policy of the University and has the power…”
This language would be consistent with that of other Ontario public university acts. In accordance with the foundational principles of shared governance and academic freedom, every public university act in the province provides for Board approval of the Senate’s decision with respect to “the expenditure of funds” and in some instances “the expenditure of funds and the establishment of facilities”. The new NOSM University must not be an exception. Collegial governance, carried out through the bicameral system, is a fundamental tenet of Canadian universities. Granting the Board additional powers, as the current language in the regulations implies, would undermine collegial governance at the newly formed NOSM University from the onset.
Further, as the NOSM University Faculty and Staff Association has outlined in their submission we too are deeply concerned that if the language in the regulations remains as is, there will be serious consequences for the future of NOSM as a reputable university.
The change in language we propose would ensure that the newly formed Northern Ontario School of Medicine has a bicameral governance structure, like all other universities in the province, and would establish the infrastructure for a healthy university.
OCUFA’s members 17,000 members await your response on this important issue.
Dr. Sue Wurtele,
President, Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA)
Summary of recommendations OCUFA recommends that the committee:
- Emphasize the need for adequate and stable government funding of postsecondary education as a requirement for the implementation of new accessibility standards under AODA regulations.
- Highlight the need for smaller class sizes to facilitate meeting the accommodation needs of students.
- Recognize that the expedited implementation timelines in the report will require adequate government funding and resources to ensure the successful rollout of the various initiatives. Without appropriate funding, this work will be downloaded, and faculty will take away from other student-centred work.
- Require the inclusion of student and labour union representatives in the development of resources, tools, criteria and plans at the institutional and governmental levels.
- Acknowledge the challenges facing contract faculty and academic librarians and emphasize the need for adequate public funding to address precarious academic labour on campus as a first step towards improving accessibility at Ontario’s campuses.
- Recognize that the work of creating accessible new courses, or “retrofitting” existing courses is very time consuming if done properly. All faculty, including contract faculty and academic librarians, must be appropriately compensated for this work. Without appropriate funding for universities, this work will be downloaded onto faculty and will take away from other student-centred work.
- Recommend the development of adequate accountability measures for evaluating an institution’s compliance with accessibility standards. Compliance must not rely on student evaluations which are informative but were never intended for the purpose of evaluating compliance with accessibility standards.
- Recommend that the regulations provide guidelines with accountability measures, not templates, for accessible course and program design that would permit institutions to adapt them to their unique course needs.
- Recommend that the training modules be regularly updated to reflect best practices and provide compensation for the trainings particularly for groups such as contract faculty and academic librarians who do not get paid for their service or required training.
- Recognize and account for additional supports for faculty and staff at postsecondary institutions who face accessibility challenges themselves.
- Emphasize mental health disabilities and accommodations in the report and recommendations.
Dear Ministers Dunlop and McNaughton,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). We represent 17,000 professors and academic librarians across the province.
Our members were dismayed to see the Ministry of Colleges and Universities’ memo on fall reopening of postsecondary institutions, given that the document was prepared without consultation with sector stakeholders, including faculty. As a result, the plan does not address some of the main concerns of those working and studying at Ontario’s postsecondary institutions.
OCUFA recently held a consultation with our faculty associations about health and safety issues, particularly in relation to a safe return to campus given the pandemic. I write to share our members’ top three concerns which are, the inadequacy of ventilation systems on campus to combat the airborne nature of COVID-19, the need to include Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) in return-to-work planning, and the importance of consulting faculty and postsecondary sector stakeholders in developing any guidelines for the safe re-opening of campuses.
First, it is important that your ministries, and Ontario government, update their guidelines to the most up-to-date science on COVID-19, which confirms the spread of the virus through airborne transmission, and not fomite transmission like previously believed. This is essential as it dictates the measures required to safely resume in-person learning and teaching. Our members’ foremost concern is building ventilation systems given the airborne nature of the virus. In particular, our members are concerned that universities are not taking this issue seriously and are promoting vague, unspecific assurances on air circulation and ventilation.
The safety of all university community members requires that university administrations follow and implement ventilation and air-quality measures that are dictated by science and ventilation experts. Further, and to safely reopen, postsecondary institutions will need adequate investments and support from the Ontario government to ensure that HVAC and ventilation systems meet the required standards. We’ve attached the checklist prepared by our Toronto faculty associations that provides the minimum safety standards required for a safe re-opening of campuses, that was prepared in consultation with world-renowned public health and ventilation experts at the University of Toronto.
Second, our members expect that your ministries ensure that unions and campus Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) are integrally involved in return-to-work planning and decisions regarding on-campus operations this fall, which as you know, is a legal requirement. I am disappointed to report that on most campuses, JHSCs continue to be sidelined since the pandemic started, even though the pandemic has made it clear that they are more important than ever for ensuring the safety of workers and administrators alike.
JHSCs ensure that campus workers are consulted and that best practices for protecting the safety and health of our campus communities are followed as preparations are made for the safe reopening Ontario’s university and college campuses. As you know, JHSCs have proven to be essential in protecting the health and safety culture in the workplace, including on college and university campuses. While employers have the greatest responsibility for health and safety in the workplace, workers’ input, and inclusion through JHSCs and unions representation are essential.
During the pandemic, the role of these committees and the need for cooperation between employers and unions is more important than ever.
Finally, our members reiterate how important it is that your ministries consult sector stakeholders moving forward, including faculty, in developing any guidelines for safe re-opening in the postsecondary sector. As you know, postsecondary institutions are unique workplaces, many of which are in-effect small municipalities in terms of size and complexity. Consulting sector stakeholders is vital in ensuring that the guidelines are adequate, fit these multifaceted spaces and can be efficiently and safely implemented.
We would welcome a meeting with your ministries to discuss these important points. And we would be pleased to provide additional information should you require it.
Dr. Sue Wurtele,
President, Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA)
Summary of recommendations
Schedule 16 of Bill 276 as it pertains to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s Act be amended to:
- Include, in line with other public university Acts, language on the composition and powers of the university’s Board of Governors and Senate. This amendment is essential to ensure the autonomy, good governance, and long-term viability of the new independent university.
- Remove any reference to collective agreements being subject to change by regulatory powers. This amendment is needed to make the Act constitutionally valid with regards to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In addition to the written submission, OCUFA presented to the Standing Committee on May 19, 2021.Download File
May 3, 2021
Dear Minister Champagne,
I am contacting you on behalf of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), which represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians across the province.
We are calling to urge you to amend the language of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) to ensure the exclusion of public institutions that receive transfer payments and government operating grants. This call is in line with the recent motion passed at the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), which represents 72,000 academic professionals nationally, calling on the federal government to reform the CCAA to exclude public sector entities.
Public and publicly assisted institutions differ from private corporations in various ways including their requirements for compliance with provincial policy and operating procedures related to governance, accountability, finance and administration. Thus, these institutions should not be subject to the same rules and regulations governing financial insolvency and bankruptcy for corporations in the private sector.
In February, and as a direct result of the erosion of public investment in universities and the decline in the accountability and transparency of university governance, Laurentian University, a public institutions in Ontario, filed for insolvency protections under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act—a piece of legislation designed to protect private companies from their creditors. The financial crisis facing Laurentian was created by the provincial government, which has chronically underfunded Ontario’s universities, cut and froze tuition fees without providing equivalent public funding, and abandoned an important Northern university in its greatest moment of need. In an unprecedent move, the Ontario government refused to protect a public institution and instead pushed it toward engaging with a corporate process that has not been designed for publicly-funded entities. This resulted in the devastating loss of hundreds of jobs and academic programs at a publicly funded, bilingual and tricultural institution with a mandate to serve the broader northern community in Ontario. Laurentian University is the first public university in the country to file for bankruptcy, which has caused alarming damage to faculty, students and the Greater Sudbury Community.
OCUFA strongly believes that institutions that have been created for the common good of Ontarians and established through public policy and funded by public dollars should be neither permitted to file for bankruptcy nor go through insolvency processes that are designed for corporate entities in the private sector. Rather, it is the responsibility of provincial and federal governments to ensure the health and sustainability of public institutions through appropriate instruments and regulations for the public sector.
The recent developments at Laurentian University have alarming implications for the postsecondary sector and public institutions at large, and we urge you to amend the BIA and CCAA acts so cherished public institutions, including universities, cannot be subjected to CCAA proceedings meant for private corporations.
President, Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
March 15, 2021
Postsecondary Education Division
Postsecondary Accountability Branch
315 Front Street, 16th Floor
Toronto ON M5V 3A4
Comments sent via email:
OCUFA Response to the O. Reg. 131/16 consultation
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) represents over 17,000 professors and academic librarians at 30 faculty associations and 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. OCUFA is responding to the Ministry of Colleges and Universities’ proposal that the following two requirements be added to the regulation, that if approved, would be reflected in public college and university sexual violence policies:
- A complainant acting in good faith, who discloses or reports sexual violence, would not be subject to actions for violations of the institution’s policies related to drug and alcohol use at the time the alleged sexual violence took place.
- During the institution’s investigative process, students who share their experience of sexual violence through disclosing, accessing support, and/or reporting to the institution, would not be asked irrelevant questions by the institution’s staff or investigators. Examples of such irrelevant questions would include those relating to past sexual history or sexual expression.
The notice for consultation says that the impacts of the proposed amendments are expected to “strengthen the sexual violence policies of publicly-assisted colleges and universities and provide increased protection to those impacted by sexual violence in postsecondary education institutions.”
Ontario faculty believe that this consultation is an important step towards combatting sexual harassment, sexual violence, and the rape culture and misogyny that underpin them at Ontario’s institutions. We are, however, concerned that the proposed amendments only focus on the reporting of sexual violence instead of focusing on prevention, which is vital in addressing the rampant rates of sexual violence on Ontario’s campuses.
Ontario’s university faculty were troubled to learn the results of the Ontario Government’s Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey released last year. It is deeply disturbing that over 63 percent of university students surveyed disclosed an experience of sexual harassment and that sexual violence remains so pervasive on campus.
The results of this survey demonstrate the severity of the problem on university and college campuses and the need for substantial resources to effectively address these issues. We are concerned by the impact of years of chronic underfunding of postsecondary institutions on universities’ ability to address sexual violence effectively and proactively on campus. While short-term investments and attention to this issue by the government are a step in the right direction, they will do little to make up for the hundreds of millions of dollars pulled out of the university system by the government. To address sexual violence on campuses, the Ontario government needs to commit to strong, stable, and long-term funding for postsecondary institutions in the province.
Faculty urge the government to demonstrate a commitment to postsecondary education and the vital support services universities provide by increasing investments in Ontario’s universities in the coming budget.
Furthermore, faculty in Ontario acknowledge that it is campus students’ unions and campus media who have been leaders in pointing out the shortcomings in university, college, and government policies and procedures on sexual violence and sexual harassment on campus. They have been at the forefront of the work to create better sexual violence prevention policies and practices on campus.
Faculty strongly believe that the government should stop undermining the ability of students’ unions to support and advocate on behalf of their members by ending the pursuit of undemocratic measures such as the Student Choice Initiative. Students’ unions have been instrumental in raising awareness about sexual violence on campus and calling for action on the issue, and the government needs to support, not hinder, their advocacy on this issue.
OCUFA believes that having clear campus policies to address sexual violence on campus is necessary. Furthermore, faculty believe that policies alone are not enough to address the rampant sexual violence present on Ontario’s campuses.
The Ontario government must focus on prevention and support not just on reporting. This is especially true as it is widely acknowledged that incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence on campus are underreported. There are many possible factors that contribute to this underreporting on university campuses. Victims or survivors may not report incidents due to fear of reprisal, apprehension about the reaction of others, peer pressure not to report, previous experiences of discrimination, lack of awareness about available supports and services, and concerns about the effectiveness of the reporting process. For this reason, it is important that the government and university administrations engage in proactive measures to address sexual violence on campus, in collaboration with campus stakeholders including students, faculty and staff.
It is important to note that faculty members who have experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence in the workplace – whether in the classroom or elsewhere on campus – have reported that the supports and processes they accessed were inadequate in terms of leading to appropriate recourse and accommodation.
Further, Ontario faculty recognize that these challenges may be experienced disproportionately by faculty from equity-seeking groups and those teaching in particular fields, such as gender studies, women’s studies, and sexuality studies.
Ontario faculty call on the Ontario government to move beyond these amendments and the reporting of sexual violence to focus on prevention and additional support for survivors navigating the various systems to report on campus. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, OCUFA also believes that to effectively address sexual violence on campuses, the Ontario government needs to focus on the prevention of sexual violence and harassment on campus through large-scale educational campaigns that are planned and implemented in coordination with campus stakeholders including students, faculty, and staff.
Ontario faculty and academic librarians continue to be committed to fostering and maintaining a strong consent culture on campus, and to partnering with students, staff, university administrators, and the provincial government to create safer campuses.
President of OCUFA
Dear Minister Romano,
I am contacting you on behalf of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), which represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians across the province.
We are alarmed that your government is intending to discreetly pass legislation that would allow the Canada Christian College to call itself a “university” and award degrees. Broadly, we are concerned about emerging efforts to privatize postsecondary education in Ontario and to give private institutions degree-granting privileges that will undermine the quality and accessibility of postsecondary education in Ontario.
This is especially evident in the case of Canada Christian College where Charles McVety, who runs the college, openly holds deeply rooted Islamophobic, transphobic, and homophobic views. McVety has been embroiled in several controversies resulting from his discriminatory beliefs. See, for example, here, here, and here.
The Ontario government should not grant accreditation and degree-granting privileges to institutions that do not meet the anti-discriminatory and anti-hate speech principles outlined in the Ontario Human Rights Code. It is imperative that the government protect religious minorities, the queer community, and other marginalized groups. At the very least, the government should do no harm. Allowing the Canada Christian College to call itself a “university” and to award degrees in our province would most certainly harm these marginalized communities and allow hateful and discriminatory speech to persist. Your Ministry must change course on this urgent matter.
Dr. Rahul Sapra,
President, Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
Associate Professor, Dept. of English, Ryerson University
CC: Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre), the Official Opposition’s Anti-Racism critic. LLindo-QP@ndp.on.ca
Chris Glover (Spadina—Fort York), the Official Opposition’s Colleges and Universities critic. CGlover-CO@ndp.on.ca
Kathleen O. Wynne (Don Valley West), Liberal Party’s Colleges and Universities critic. firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Shreiner, Green Party of Ontario. Mschreiner@ola.org
In response to the Ministry of Colleges and Universities seeking input on the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on different sectors of Ontario society, OCUFA has submitted a detailed overview of the pandemic’s implications for faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals at the province’s universities.
The policy brief is designed to provide context for many of the challenges Ontario’s universities and university faculty are facing, and provide pragmatic proposals for how university administrations can work with faculty to protect and strengthen the academy during these turbulent times.Download File
This document is a very high-level look at Ontario’s new wage cap legislation. There are many other legal, strategic, and tactical questions arising from this legislation that faculty associations will need to address in order to develop a bargaining mandate and strategy.Download File
Hon. Doug Downey
Attorney General of Ontario
Ministry of the Attorney General
11th Floor, 720 Bay St.
Toronto, ON M7A 2S9
September 18, 2019
Dear Attorney General Downey,
On behalf of the 17,000 full-time and contract university professors and academic librarians represented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), I am writing to urge you to reverse the cuts to Legal Aid Ontario and to commit to protecting legal aid funding moving forward.
We share the concerns raised by Ontario’s most senior judges who have warned that cutting legal aid funding will lead to a greater number of marginalized persons representing themselves in court, increase trial times and put higher demands on public services resulting in higher costs of legal proceedings for the system as a whole.
Legal Aid Ontario provides essential services for the most vulnerable in our province such as injured workers, survivors of domestic violence, persons on social assistance and other low-income and marginalized Ontarians. Faculty across Ontario are deeply concerned that the government’s decision to drastically cut the Legal Aid Ontario budget by 30 per cent will undermine access to justice, which is a fundamental right and a key tenet of democracy, for these vulnerable citizens.
We are particularly concerned about the impact of these cuts on women, Indigenous Peoples, and racialized persons who are disproportionately represented in Ontario’s low-income population. Your government’s reckless decision to significantly reduce the LAO’s budget will directly result in pushing marginalized persons further into poverty and curtail their ability to collectively advocate for their rights.
Some of the legal clinics that have received the most drastic cuts are those that have longstanding partnerships with law schools. The law students who come to the clinics through these partnerships provide vital service to marginalized communities. Due to the cuts, the future of the partnerships is in doubt, meaning a reduction in frontline services and lost learning opportunities for the students.
The cuts to Legal Aid Ontario will also negatively impact legal education in the province. Student legal aid clinics are an integral part of Legal Aid Ontario, where law students provide free legal services to marginalized persons as part of their studies and training. The experiential learning law students are exposed to at legal aid clinics is irreplaceable in its value.
In addition to being key hubs of experiential learning, the work of law students is a way to ease the strain on the legal system as a whole. This partnership with students significantly reduces operational costs for legal aid clinics. In addition, some of these clinics rely on student fees or a student levy to cover part of their operation costs. The government’s “Student Choice Initiative” threatens the operations of some of Ontario’s legal aid clinics that rely on student levies even further.
We cannot help but wonder why the province would interfere in university affairs to undermine the funding of legal aid clinics and other essential services, rather than protect and celebrate the role of student legal clinics in promoting access to justice in communities.
As the Financial Accountability Office has repeatedly indicated, Ontario has a revenue problem, not a spending problem. Ontario has the lowest program spending out of all other provinces, and the lowest revenue, including corporate tax rate, in all of Canada. Balancing Ontario’s books on the backs of those who are most marginalized, including Legal Aid’s clients, is not viable fiscal policy.
As Ontario faculty, we are alarmed by the province’s legal aid cuts, which undermine access to justice for those who are most marginalized and negatively impact legal education in the province. We believe that our society as a whole makes progress when minority groups and marginalized communities have access to justice, and the province’s legal aid cuts directly harm this vision.
We call on you to safeguard the basic tenets of our democracy by reinstating legal aid funding and refraining from future cuts. Instead, we urge you to celebrate the work of legal aid clinics, for their work and advocacy improve our society as a whole.
Dear Ms. Mudrinic,
I am following up on the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ request for input on the collaborative nursing degree model.
First, we value the MTCU’s approach as outlined in its discussion guide. We believe that giving institutions the option to add a standalone nursing degree program rather than imposing it on them is the right approach to follow as it respects institutional autonomy, which is essential for all institutions to effectively carry out their academic mission. We believe that any such decision must go through the appropriate collegiate government channels at each institution.
However, OCUFA is concerned about points such as the use of “outcome indicators” and metrics to judge the success of this program, and that “no additional funding for nursing education will be provided” by the government (Collaborative Nursing Degree Model: Discussion Guide, July 2019). We view collecting data on postsecondary education, including newly added programs, as conducive to the educational purpose of universities. OCUFA, however, is against conditioning the funding of postsecondary institutions or measuring a program’s performance based on arbitrary measures such as student satisfaction or labour market outcomes. Evaluating postsecondary education based on narrow measures is reductive and fails to capture the breadth and depth of the factors that are needed for teaching excellence.
OCUFA is alarmed by the Ford government’s attacks on university autonomy since resuming office. The provincial government’s free speech directive, attack on student rights through the “Student Choice Initiative,” interference in collective bargaining and agreements, in addition to introducing a drastic performance-based funding model that conditions funding upon a set of arbitrary metrics all undermine institutional autonomy and limit institutions’ ability to effectively meet their academic missions. We encourage the ministry to reverse these harmful measures and to respect institutional autonomy in the postsecondary sector moving forward.
Secondly, we believe that the success of all academic programs, including new ones, is reliant upon adequately and publicly funded postsecondary institutions. Stable, consistent, and adequate base funding for Ontario universities allows institutions to make long-term plans and focus on their core mandates of research and teaching. The current model of performance-based funding model, which conditions funding upon a set of arbitrary metrics also undermines the academic mission.
As you know, Ontario’s universities receive the lowest level of per-student funding in all of Canada. In 2016-17, the most recent year for which data for all provinces are available, Ontario’s per-student funding amounted to $7,939. This means that Ontario’s per-student funding was an astounding 36 per cent lower than the average for the rest of Canada, which was $12,381 per student in 2016-17. Ontario’s universities have been trailing the rest of the country when it comes to investing in the teaching and learning that is vital to the success of Ontario’s students.
For the success of this program and all other programs at Ontario’s universities, OCUFA recommends that the MTCU increase core funding for universities and colleges to match the average for the rest of Canada and cancel performance-based funding.
Thirdly, OCUFA views teaching and mentorship as vital to successful student learning. We encourage the ministry to commit to hiring full-time-tenure track faculty in any newly added programs, rather than relying on precariously employed contract faculty.
In the last decade, full-time student enrolment increased by 23 per cent. Over the same period, the number of full-time faculty employed at Ontario universities increased by only 3.4 per cent. This means that, since 2008-09, the rate of increase in student enrolment has been almost seven times that of faculty hiring. Ontario has the highest student-faculty ratio in Canada and since 2000 the ratio has worsened substantially – increasing by 38 per cent. As of 2016-17, there were 31 students for every full-time faculty member at an Ontario university compared to an average of 22 students for each university faculty member across the rest of Canada.
While full-time faculty hiring has stagnated at Ontario’s universities, the reliance on contract faculty has increased. The use of contract faculty has become an entrenched strategy in universities across Ontario, resulting in a dramatic and troubling shift in the nature of academic work. These contract professors are generally hired on either a limited-term contract or as sessionals on a per-course basis. Over half of faculty at Ontario universities are working on contract. OCUFA estimates that the number of courses taught by contract faculty has nearly doubled since 2000.
These trends have a negative impact on teaching and learning in Ontario. Having more students and fewer professors leads to less one-on-one engagement, larger class sizes, and fewer opportunities for mentorship and academic advising. The addition of a new program requires an expansion in the overall size of the tenure-stream faculty complement and would support improvements to Ontario’s student-faculty ratio.
The Ford government has introduced sweeping wage legislation that will undermine free and fair collective bargaining under the pretense of a fiscal crisis.
The reality is that Ontario faces a revenue problem and not a spending problem, as Ford continues to falsely claim. According to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO), the Ontario government has the lowest per capita program spending in the country. This includes spending on essential public services such as long-term care, childcare, education, transit, water, and infrastructure. In addition, since 2011, Ontario’s program spending has grown at less than half the rate of other provinces.
In the postsecondary education sector, Ontario’s per capita funding is 21 per cent lower than the rest of Canada.
In addition, the Ontario government’s expenditures as a portion of GDP have shrunk over the past 15 years, according to the line-by-line review commissioned by the Ford government. This means that the economy is growing at a much faster pace than government expenditure in the province.
Ontario also has the lowest revenue per person in Canada. In 2017, Ontario’s per person revenue was almost 16 per cent lower than the national average. According to the FAO, Ontario’s personal income tax revenue is equivalent to 9.9 per cent of labour income, which is significantly below the 11.7 per cent share in the rest of Canada. At 11.8 per cent, Ontario’s corporate income tax rate (tax revenue as a share of corporate profits) is also below the ratio for the rest of Canada, which is 12.2 per cent.
The Ford government continues to ignore the facts and expert economic advice. Amidst this manufactured fiscal crisis, the government is proposing legislated wage caps for all public sector bargaining, without any evidence or data showing how this will impact Ontario’s finances.Download File
At the May 2017 OCUFA Policy Exchange conference, university governance was identified as one of three critical policy issues that are of concern to faculty. In particular, participants noted three main areas of concern: the composition and practices of Boards of Governors/Trustees, lack of transparency in the development of university budgets, and procedures for president, provost and other senior administrator hiring searches.
Over the past few years, OCUFA’s member associations have been reporting various barriers to collegial governance for faculty, a lack of meaningful input in university Senate decisions, and frustration with controversial decisions being made by increasingly corporatized Boards of Governors. Concerns about the way universities are being governed and the erosion of collegial governance have been coming up in all facets of OCUFA’s work.
To begin to address these concerns, and recognizing the current state of the postsecondary sector in Ontario, OCUFA has decided to develop a set of principles to guide collegial governance at our universities. The guidelines below are informed by the 2018 OCUFA university governance survey completed by every university faculty association in Ontario.
Collegial governance simply means a shared governance model often structured as a bi-cameral system in which both university Boards and Senates take on responsibilities to ensure the health and success of the institution. Further, functional collegial governance deliberations at the level of Board of Governors, include meaningful input from faculty who provide the instruction and research that is at the core of the academic mission.
Ontario universities are, in principle, public institutions; but our gathered data show that they are increasingly managed as if they were corporate entities. Many key decisions are no longer appropriately addressed through collegial governance models. Coupled with the chronic underfunding of universities and their increased reliance on precariously employed professors who are generally left out of the decision-making process, this failure to implement collegial governance has led universities in Ontario to function much less collaboratively than they have in the past.
While postsecondary institutions need to change to adjust to changing political, social, economic, and cultural conditions, these changes need to be determined and implemented through collegial processes that involve the meaningful participation of faculty, staff, and students.
We note that collegial governance models do and must involve staff and students. To respect the autonomy and voice of these groups, however, and to avoid speaking on their behalf, this document is written with particular attention to the role of faculty in collegial governance and from a faculty perspective. The term faculty here refers to all those who hold academic appointments, including academic librarians, and those who teach under precarious employment arrangements.
The following principles have been organized under three main categories: representation on governance bodies, processes and practices of governance, and procedures regarding senior administrator searches and appointments.
- University governance should be based on principles of collegiality, inclusivity, meaningful representation, shared participation, and shared accountability.
- Collegial governance participation should be a right of ALL faculty.
- On all governance bodies, faculty should be elected by, and accountable to, their constituencies.
- Faculty must not be expected to relinquish their association or union membership in order to sit on university governing bodies.
- University Boards’ membership should be representative of the diversity of the community in which the university is located, and representatives must be committed to the public mission of the university.
- Appointments to the Boards should be based on open collegial practices and include an open nomination process.
- Membership of Board subcommittees should be open to all Board members.
- Contract faculty should participate in university governance bodies and be fairly compensated for their participation.
2. Processes/practices of governance:
- University governance practices should be based on principles of shared information, shared responsibility, open processes and planning exercises, open consultation, and shared decision-making.
- Values of the university are not necessarily the same as those held by the corporate sector.
- Values of academic freedom, open discussion and respect for the diversity of voices should be at the core of university governance practices.
- The principles and traditional decision-making practices of Indigenous peoples must be respected.
- Faculty should be meaningfully included in the budgetary and financial discussions and decisions of the institution, all of which bear upon its academic mission.
- Faculty should be duly consulted on any contracts with external donors.
- University Senates must engage in free and open debate on matters under their purview.
- The in-camera content of governance meetings should be limited and justified. Closed debate should be rare and limited to exceptional circumstances.
- Conflict of interest policies should be fully enforced with respect to all internal and external members of a governing body.
- Where one or more members of a governing body may have a conflict of interest regarding matters being addressed, the preferred method for resolving the conflict should be recusal from discussion and voting on those matters rather than general exclusion from that committee. It should be recognized that faculty and other representatives can simultaneously represent the good of the university. The good of the university is not at odds with the good of the university community and its members.
- Appropriate training and education should be offered to all representatives on governance bodies to ensure informed decision-making and adherence to the public and academic mission of universities.
- Service should be duly recognized and compensated as a key responsibility of faculty.
- The chair or speaker of the Board and the Senate should be elected by the membership of each body, respectively. The chair or speaker should not have another administrative post within the university.
3. Searches and appointments
- All senior administrative hiring searches should be open and transparent.
- The presidential and provostial search committees should be inclusive and consist of representatives from different constituencies including full-time faculty, contract faculty, students, staff, and the Board.
- The members on the search committee should be elected by their constituencies and mindful of the role they play in representing them.
- All members of a search committee should have equal voice and vote.
- Community consultation should not be limited to the job posting and setting of criteria for searches. Consultation should also include the final review of shortlisted candidates.
- The shortlist of candidates should be provided to the campus community.
- The campus community should be provided with an opportunity to meet shortlisted candidates and engage with them.
- A mechanism for meaningful consultation must be provided to the community and Senate for their assessment of shortlisted candidates.
“These are turbulent times for universities in Ontario, starting with the government’s introduction of needless directives on free speech, then the cuts to OSAP for students and the 10 per cent tuition reduction that cut over $350 million from the system, and, most recently, the introduction through the Ontario Budget of so called performance-based funding tied to 60 per cent of the operating budgets of our institutions.
The clear pattern of all of these measures is government intrusion into the autonomy of Ontario universities. And that is not merely a budgetary problem or a political annoyance, it is a direct attack on the societal purpose of universities and what makes universities effective and unique social institutions that address the most pressing social, economic, and cultural problems facing the people of Ontario. The principles of tenure, academic freedom, and collegial governance are not job perks but rather the lifeblood of any modern university and the living, breathing guarantee that universities remain autonomous from state and private interests.
Further, the autonomy of each university is integral to its ability to serve the local and individual needs of its community, students, and faculty. It is this autonomy that fosters the distinct character and culture of each institution, contributing to differentiation and providing unique value to local communities and the people of Ontario.
Regrettably, we see these consultations as the latest attack by the government on university autonomy and university faculty. Like much of this government’s policy thus far, it is, in essence, a manipulative, cynical solution in search of a problem.”Download File
On April 11, the 2019 Ontario Budget was tabled. Given the track record of the Ontario government to date, this budget delivered what OCUFA expected: a continued attack on workers’ rights, university autonomy, and public services, including postsecondary education.
The overall postsecondary education and training sector budget is projected to be cut by $700 million, which mainly reflects a deep cut (over $670 million) to the Student Financial Assistance (OSAP) budget. The cut to student financial assistance and the removal of the grace period on provincial loans will leave students with significantly higher debt loads.
In a drastic shift, the budget proposes tying 60 per cent of university funding to “performance outcomes” by 2024-25. 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 shifting towards allocating university funding based on performance. This shift is counterproductive as it will, by design, create inequities and slowly but certainly undermine the integrity of Ontario’s postsecondary education system. This new funding model will only serve to destabilize the sector, make long-term planning impossible, encourage more bureaucracy, and stifle innovation.
The Ontario budget, including legislation that targets the rights of senior faculty, further signals this government’s intention to undermine unions across the entire public sector. OCUFA is very concerned by this development and views it as a direct attack on collective bargaining and collective agreements. It is worth noting that faculty members are employed by, and negotiate their contracts with universities, not the province. Any attempt by the Ford government to interfere in university collective agreements and bargaining practices would violate university autonomy and the constitutionally protected rights of faculty and staff.
Read OCUFA’s complete budget analysis here:Download File
“Faculty associations across the province highly value this policy framework, especially in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) report, which provided a roadmap for establishing new relationships with Indigenous peoples that respect their land, treaty, and human rights and recognizes settler responsibilities in this work.”Download File
As part of the Ministry of Labour’s consultation on pay transparency reporting, OCUFA sent Minister Laurie Scott a letter expressing faculty concerns about the staggering 31.5 per cent gender pay gap that exists in Ontario and the pervasive pay inequities that exist within most sectors.
The Ontario Pay Transparency Act, passed in May 2018 by the previous government, was a welcome step towards a centralized and standardized reporting and data collection system on wages and compensation in Ontario. Unfortunately, the Doug Ford government is proposing regulations that could potentially undermine the purpose and effectiveness of the Act and existing protections outlined in Human Rights law.
Addressing the systemic barriers to equity in pay and closing the gender pay gap are of high importance to faculty across Ontario. The postsecondary education sector is a prime example of pay discrepancies and wage gaps based on job status as contract and precariously employed faculty are often paid significantly less than their full-time colleagues for performing similar duties. In fact, data shows that teachers identified as female, non-binary, and racialized are less likely to have full-time, full-year employment.
OCUFA strongly believes that every worker in the province, regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation, should have the right to be free from systemic discrimination in pay. We fully support the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition’s call for the immediate implementation of the Pay Transparency Act.Download File
In early 2018, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) formed an ad hoc
committee on collegial governance in Ontario universities with an initial mandate to collect data
on current governance practices of Ontario universities and articulate a vision for collegial governance.
This initiative was taken in response to an increasing level of concern among the OCUFA member
associations regarding the ways in which universities are being governed and the erosion of collegial
governance at Ontario academic institutions. The committee’s research work commenced in the spring
of 2018 with the collection of data from every university faculty association in Ontario through the
means of a detailed survey on current university governance structures and processes including Senate
and Board structures and practices, searches for senior administrators, budgets and finances, and
general university governance. The survey received a hundred per cent response rate and yielded both
quantitative and narrative results regarding the state of collegial governance in Ontario.
“Any meaningful discussion of faculty renewal cannot be isolated from the larger challenges facing the system of postsecondary education in Ontario. Any sustainable solution to faculty renewal must address the postsecondary funding gap in Ontario. In addition, any meaningful dialogue about faculty renewal must steer clear of stereotypes about senior faculty and be guided by solutions that respect collective agreements and long standing pension agreements.”Download File
OCUFA’s 2018 pre-budget submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
Government SubmissionDownload File
OCUFA’s Submission to the Ontario Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee
OCUFA’s submission to the University Funding Model Consultation
Government SubmissionDownload File
OCUFA’s submission to the Changing Workplaces Review
A guide to the Ontario University Funding Formula ReviewDownload File
OCUFA’s submission to the Ontario government regarding the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan
Bill C-525, the Employees’ Voting Rights Act, proposes amending the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, and the Public Service Labour Relations Act to revise the union certification and revocation procedures.
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), representing 17,000 professors and academic librarians in Ontario’s universities, including those under federal jurisdiction, opposes Bill C-525 on the grounds that Bill C-525 does not protect employee secrecy, is contrary to established representation procedures, disregards employee choice, and promotes decertification.Download File
The results of OCUFA’s latest public opinion poll concerning attitudes towards austerity and higher education.Download File
OCUFA’s 2011 Budget BriefDownload File
Recommendations for a meaningful successor to Reaching Higher
The Government of Ontario’s Reaching Higher plan was a visionary document that provided needed funding to Ontario’s postsecondary system. However, it was not sufficient to overcome the long history of university under-funding in our province. Its impact was also eroded by unanticipated increases in enrolment and the current economic downturn.
The 2010 Ontario Budget must address this under-funding and its associated effects. OCUFA believes there are three areas of urgent concern in the university system:
- The student-to-faculty ratio is too high, damaging the quality of the student experience at Ontario universities;
- Educational facilities, libraries and information technology resources are in need of renewal in order to support a quality learning environment; and
- Tuition fee levels in Ontario require students to pay for more than their fair share of operating revenue, harming the accessibility of the university system.
Each of these challenges is best resolved through increased public funding. In particular, OCUFA recommends:
- The Government of Ontario invest an additional $153 million in 2010-11 to hire additional academic staff and renew campus learning infrastructure. This amount will increase to $765 million by 2014-15, rising by an additional $153 million per year during that period;
- The Government of Ontario freeze tuition fees at current levels; and
- Compensatory funding be provided to institutions for lost revenue from proposed tuition increases.
These investments will greatly improve the quality and accessibility of Ontario’s higher education system. In addition, OCUFA recommends that new Multi-Year Accountability Agreements between the Government of Ontario and individual universities be developed in consultation with faculty and students. These agreements should provide meaningful and comparable data that facilitates collaborative quality improvement.Download File
Submission to the Postsecondary Education SecretariatDownload File
The provincial government has established policies that obligate universities to produce skilled graduates and cutting-edge research that will contribute to Ontario’s economic development. This “strategy for prosperity” seems innocuous. However, these market-based higher education policies and targeted research funding programs are narrowing the scope and function of our universities, and perpetuating the business model of higher education.Download File
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations invited Ontario university faculty and librarians to respond to an on-line questionnaire. The questionnaire asked about a range of issues including class size, faculty hiring, research capacity, departmental budgets, and the overall quality of education being delivered to students. Close to 2,000 responses from 22 Ontario universities were received between February 16 and March 13, 2009.Download File
Pre-budget ConsultationDownload File
Submission to the Ministry of LabourDownload File
The research was initiated in response to concerns about the effects of the current envelope funding practice on the institutional autonomy of universities and on faculty association negotiations with the university administrations. In addition to a discussion of these issues, the discussion paper provides a background on the history of envelope funding in Ontario, recent developments, and an assessment of the provincial government’s intentions. It concludes with an outline of policy positions that OCUFA could adopt, the issues each would address and some of their respective implications.Download File
Brief to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
Pre-Budget ConsultationDownload File
Per student funding, student faculty ratios and student interaction with faculty show that inadequate support for post secondary education in Ontario continues to threaten the global competitiveness of Ontario universities and the provincial economy.Download File
What are the Issues
Response to the Discussion PaperDownload File
Because of larger-than-anticipated enrolment increases, the Liberal Government’s $6.2-billion increase to post-secondary education, announced in 2005, will have a minimal impact on the quality of education offered Ontario students. Ontario falls behind the rest of Canada and American peer institutions in terms of per student funding and student-faculty ratios.Download File
Ontario government funding for students today is far less than it was for their parents. In inflation-adjusted dollars, Ontario contributes only $4,271 per student today, versus $6,568 in the 1970s, a gap of $2,297, or 35 per cent less.Download File
Ontario’s total investment in R&D compares poorly to other industrialized nations. The province’s investment in R&D, as a proportion of GDP, is 14 per cent below the G7 average.Download File
The quality of undergraduate education in Ontario remains at risk despite the government’s five-year, $6.2-billion Reaching Higher plan, which pledged enough funds to hire more professors. There has been no improvement in student-faculty ratios, however, because inflation-adjusted, per-student funding is still well below the 1990s. Faculty hiring has not kept pace with enrolment increases, so in 2003-04 Ontario had a student-faculty ratio of 27 students to each full-time professor, while American peer institutions had a 15 to one ratio. Ontario needs 11,000 more professors by the end of the decade and needs to make a commitment to recruit full-time, tenure-stream faculty.Download File
Ontario Budget 2007 contains no new initiatives for universities that will be sustained through the life of the government’s Reaching Higher plan. As with last year’s Budget, Reaching Higher funding targets were re-announced. A one-time injection of $390 million from federal funding was also announced for post-secondary education (PSE).
The year 2007-08 is crucial for Ontario universities. Reaching Higher announced that 12,000 more graduate spaces would be created by this time than were in place in 2002-03. Undergraduate enrolments are now expected to have increased by over 66,000 over the same period.Download File
The government’s plan to expand graduate education by an additional 14,000 students by 2010, although laudable, has put the quality of graduate education at risk. Ontario universities are not hiring enough faculty to ensure graduate students a quality education. Ontario universities need to hire 2,205 additional faculty to reach 1995-96 graduate student-faculty ratios. The government is not providing enough operating funding, not enough graduate-student financial assistance support, and not enough funding to address overdue repairs and expand space requirements. The report demonstrates that failing to involve faculty in the expansion planning leads to oversights.Download File
Brief to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
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As a requirement of Reaching Higher, Ontario universities are obliged to meet certain conditions contained in their multi-year accountability agreements with the government. The interim accountability agreements for 2005-06 provided the first glimpse at the yearly “contract” between the institutions and the government. The interim agreements provided details about the quality Improvement Fund, as well as information on the quality of teaching and learning, educational resources and student supports. In terms of faculty hiring, for example, of the 614 net new hires reported in 2005-06, only 35 per cent were tenure-stream.Download File
Despite the controversy around the efficacy of indicator-driven funding in post-secondary education, the multi-year accountability agreements required as part of the government’s Reaching Higher plan include so-called performance indicators to measure quality changes resulting from the plan’s $6.2 billion in increased funding. While faculty support efforts to enhance quality in the classroom, they caution that the types of measures used will not necessarily improve quality, while increasing the burdens placed on faculty and staff. The report urges the government not to repeat the mistakes of previous governments in Canada and abroad but to balance its desire for accountability with respect for institutional autonomy and academic freedom.Download File
Performance indicators periodically emerge as a topic of discussion in Ontario. This is no surprise, as since the 1980s, the use of performance indicators in post-secondary education has multiplied across OECD nations. The United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Australia, and New Zealand have been using performance indicators to monitor higher education targets for years. Countries in the Mediterranean as well as Central and Eastern Europe are beginning to establish performance indicators. Many American states are well into performance monitoring, though some are ratcheting down efforts after hitting glitches in the process. This paper investigates and considers the merits of various systems and measures related to performance indicators.Download File
Pre-Budget ConsultationsDownload File
Vol. 7 No. 1 – Despite the ongoing controversy over the validity and value of the annual Maclean’s university rankings, it continues to be the most widely read issue of the magazine, so parents and students must consider the results to be useful. This analysis of the rankings includes 2005 — the last year in which all Ontario universities participated — and reveals troubling trends in areas such as student-faculty ratio, funding, and class size. Of particular interest is the assessment of the increasing number of classes with more than 100 students in the upper years of undergraduate education.Download File
This OCUFA study presents the results of a decade of fiscally motivated tuition increases and the lack of a coherent tuition fee policy in Ontario. The report cautions against a narrow framing of tuition policy, warning that embracing past practices of either annual incremental fee increases or radical expansion of fee deregulation will have a negative impact on access. The report laments in particular the situation of middle- and lower-income families, who are struggling after a decade of rising tuition fees.Download File
Vol. 6 No. 1 – This report presents three scenarios for Ontario universities in terms of the student-faculty ratio. The first scenario is the status quo, where the 2005 ratio of 24 students for every faculty member puts Ontario universities at the bottom of the list when compared to Canadian and American peers. The second and middle-of-the-road scenario harkens back to the 18:1 ratio of 10 years ago. The third scenario, where Ontario becomes the North American leader in terms of quality, envisions a student-faculty ratio of 15:1. This scenario would mean that Ontario would have to hire an additional 11,000 faculty by 2010. OCUFA urges the Ontario government to immediately implement a faculty recruitment and retainment strategy or risk an even greater quality gap in future years.Download File
Pre-Budget ConsultationsDownload File
This research study commissioned by the Ontario Coalition for Post-Secondary Education demonstrates that during a time of increasing reliance on educational attainment, the province is investing less in post-secondary education and charging higher tuition fees to students than any time in the last 30 years. The purpose of the study is to broaden debate within the higher-education sector by challenging the assumptions about public funding for higher education, outlining the access implications of increased tuition, and presenting alternative models to the status quo. The paper also investigates income-contingent loan repayment schemes and finds them lacking.Download File
OCUFA Submission to the Honourable Bob Rae, Advisor, Postsecondary ReviewDownload File
Vol. 5 No. 5 – OCUFA contends that a look at the record supports returning to the model of an independent advisory panel, with clear channels of communication and accountability with government and stakeholders, improving on the best practices of the past with an approach suited to the 21st century.Download File
Vol. 5 No. 4 – Ontario universities are not covered under the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). It has become increasingly difficult to obtain even noncontroversial data that would be readily available were Ontario universities covered by provincial freedom of information legislation. This led the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) to examine and test the efficacy of access to information policies at Ontario’s universities by making identical access requests for faculty hiring data.Download File
Vol. 5 No.4 – Recent studies into Ontario’s economic future suggest setting ambitious targets for greater achievement in our university sector, a proposal requiring significantly increased public funding. This paper looks at what results could be accomplished by meeting such targets. It examines the projected cost of a series of proposed improvements and suggests that Ontario government funding should rise at least to the national average. Great improvements could be achieved by making Ontario universities the best-funded in Canada, and even settling for national-average funding would stop deterioration and allow some improvements. Substantially increased public support would be amply repaid in benefits to the province and to Ontarians.Download File
Vol.5 No.2 – Increased user fees and other charges imposed under Conservative premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves outweighed the benefits of income-tax cuts for many Ontario families. This paper examines the mathematics of increased user fees and other charges now levied by government, school boards, universities, and other institutions and presents their net effect on hypothetical Ontario households. This paper suggests that the Liberal government should look to other sources of revenue. The report also demonstrates that increased public support for Ontario universities would yield significant returns in the overall prosperity of the province.Download File
This paper reviews the Harris/Eves governments’ funding cuts to the province’s universities, whose negative impact is reflected in the Maclean’s rankings of Canadian universities. Universities were among the hardest hit of Ontario’s transfer-payment agencies during the Conservative budget cuts, and funding increases in the later years of the Conservative government only partially restored lost funding. The consequences of these cuts on universities were striking in areas such as tuition, operating funding, enrolment, and student-faculty ratios. Universities were also affected substantially by the government’s decision to eliminate Grade 13 from secondary schools, creating the “double cohort.”Download File
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