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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.

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Preamble

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.

Policy statement

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.

1. Representation:

  1. University governance should be based on principles of collegiality, inclusivity, meaningful representation, shared participation, and shared accountability.
  2. Collegial governance participation should be a right of ALL faculty.
  3. On all governance bodies, faculty should be elected by, and accountable to, their constituencies.
  4. Faculty must not be expected to relinquish their association or union membership in order to sit on university governing bodies.
  5. 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.
  6. Appointments to the Boards should be based on open collegial practices and include an open nomination process.
  7. Membership of Board subcommittees should be open to all Board members.
  8. Contract faculty should participate in university governance bodies and be fairly compensated for their participation.

2. Processes/practices of governance:

  1. University governance practices should be based on principles of shared information, shared responsibility, open processes and planning exercises, open consultation, and shared decision-making.
  2. Values of the university are not necessarily the same as those held by the corporate sector.
  3. Values of academic freedom, open discussion and respect for the diversity of voices should be at the core of university governance practices.
  4. The principles and traditional decision-making practices of Indigenous peoples must be respected.
  5. Faculty should be meaningfully included in the budgetary and financial discussions and decisions of the institution, all of which bear upon its academic mission.
  6. Faculty should be duly consulted on any contracts with external donors.
  7. University Senates must engage in free and open debate on matters under their purview.
  8. The in-camera content of governance meetings should be limited and justified. Closed debate should be rare and limited to exceptional circumstances.
  9. Conflict of interest policies should be fully enforced with respect to all internal and external members of a governing body.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Service should be duly recognized and compensated as a key responsibility of faculty.
  13. 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

  1. All senior administrative hiring searches should be open and transparent.
  2. 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.
  3. The members on the search committee should be elected by their constituencies and mindful of the role they play in representing them.
  4. All members of a search committee should have equal voice and vote.
  5. 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.
  6. The shortlist of candidates should be provided to the campus community.
  7. The campus community should be provided with an opportunity to meet shortlisted candidates and engage with them.
  8. A mechanism for meaningful consultation must be provided to the community and Senate for their assessment of shortlisted candidates.
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“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.”

Lisez la présentation de l’OCUFA dans sa version intégrale.

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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:

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“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.”

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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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Tuition Trap

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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