Job Posting: Director of Policy and Government Relations

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Permanent, Regular, Full-Time Position (Policy Level B)
Deadline: Friday April 19, 2024

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

About OCUFA

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 18,000 university faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 30 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members toward creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.

Areas of Responsibility

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

Skills and Requirements

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

This is a permanent, regular, full-time position, classified as Policy Level B, as defined in the terms and conditions of employment governed by the Collective Agreement between OCUFA and CUPE Local 1281. The salary range for this position is $123,708.53 to $141,081.20. Full benefits are offered in accordance with the Collective Agreement. All OCUFA staff act under the direction and authority of the Executive Director.

Based at the OCUFA office in Toronto, Ontario, with the option of a weekly hybrid work arrangement as detailed in the Collective Agreement. Occasional travel will be required. OCUFA is a unionized and equal-opportunity employer that is committed to the principle of employment equity and welcomes diversity in the workplace.

Please submit your cover letter, resume, and the names of three references, packaged in one PDF, to applications@ocufa.on.ca by Friday April 19, 2024

Jenny Ahn
Executive Director
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA)

University professors say Ontario’s allocation of international student spots misses the big picture

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TORONTO, March 27, 2024 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations welcomed recent news that almost all international study permits will be allocated to Ontario’s publicly funded universities and colleges but warned that distributing study permits based solely on immediate labour market needs misses the big picture.

“Ontario’s public universities prepare students for the jobs and challenges of today and tomorrow, and teach vital critical thinking and research skills that drive lifelong careers,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “Restricting international study permits to current market needs ignores the very mission of a university education and will still perpetuate exploitative tuition practices. We urge the government to change course on this approach.”

The Minister of Colleges and Universities announced the study permit information in a news release Wednesday. The announcement also stated that colleges and universities will be required to provide housing options to accepted international students but provided no information on the process or funding allocation for meeting this requirement.

Colleges will be most affected by the change in study permit allotment, but universities will also feel the impact, said Narain.

“Universities need more funding from the government to make up for any revenue shortfalls that will come from changes to international student enrollment and tuition freezes,” he said. “Ontario universities sit last in per-student funding in the country, far below the Canadian average. This chronic underfunding affects all students—and they deserve better.”

OCUFA is especially concerned that the government’s permit allocation does not restrict international student enrollment in partnership programs between public universities and private institutions, despite reports of bad actors in similar partnerships in the college sector.

“International students offer immense benefits to Ontario’s universities, communities, and economy, and we want them to thrive on our campuses,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “For that to happen, the government needs step up and adequately fund our public universities to allow students to take full advantage of a university education.”

Ontario presented its solutions for revitalizing Ontario’s public universities in its 2024 pre-budget submission and called for renewed investment in public universities at its Queen’s Park Advocacy Day.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents more than 18,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca  

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For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at media@ocufa.on.ca  

Ontario budget gets failing grade from university professors

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TORONTO, March 26, 2024 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations said the 2024 Ontario Budget gets a failing grade for not supporting the province’s public universities.

“This budget fails the test of investing in the long-term health of our world-class publicly funded universities,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “Universities are in a crisis that the province manufactured through chronic underfunding. It doesn’t have to be this way and Ontarians deserve much better.”

The budget, tabled today in Queen’s Park, included no new funding for universities, even though some Ontario universities are urgently sounding alarms and sadly pausing programs, and Ontario sits in last place in the country for per-student funding by a large margin, therein failing our students as well as faculty.

OCUFA was glad to see an extension of a freeze on tuition fees for postsecondary students, but the government did not invest in universities for this lost revenue, expecting universities to continue to do much more with much less.

The budget included a previously announced $1.3 billion for Ontario’s colleges and universities over the next three years. This drop-in-the bucket is less than half of the amount recommended by the government-appointed Blue-Ribbon panel and eight times less than OCUFA’s recommendation for university funding to reach just the Canadian funding average.

That funding announcement included $15 million directly to private for-profit companies with no expertise or ties to public postsecondary education tasked with finding “efficiencies” through reviewing data on university finances that is already available and reported by universities.

“The government is giving gifts to private consulting firms instead of reducing red tape and administrative burdens for universities that are already highly efficient in their operations,” said Narain. “Ontarians deserve transparency and accountability from their government, not unnecessary spending on private interference in our public universities.”

The government also announced plans to open a medical school in Vaughan affiliated with York University. However, the Budget contained few details about long-term funding for the institution or plans for hiring medical school faculty.

“Faculty, students, administrators, and staff groups are all telling the government the same thing: We need more funding for universities and we need it right now,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “Chronic underfunding hurts students at universities now, and it will negatively affect the experiences of the next generation of students and Ontarians who work on campuses.”

OCUFA is hopeful that the government will also address the inequities of Bill 124 wage restrictions for those in the postsecondary sector.

“Premier Ford recognized the inequality created by Bill 124 wage restraints when his government repealed the legislation. Now it’s time to right the wrongs of this unconstitutional legislation,” said Ahn.

OCUFA laid out its recommendations for revitalizing Ontario’s public universities in its pre-budget submission and held meetings with MPPs and political staffers during its March 20 Advocacy Day, calling for renewed investment into our world-class public university system.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents over 18,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca 

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For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at media@ocufa.on.ca

OCUFA brings university issues to Queen’s Park during Advocacy Day

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Faculty, academic librarians, and academic professionals from universities across Ontario attended OCUFA Advocacy Day on March 20 at the Ontario Legislature to advocate for more robust, sustainable government investment in Ontario’s public university system.

OCUFA ambassadors representing more than 18,000 faculty, academic librarians, and academic professionals, conducted meetings with Members of Provincial Parliament and their staff from all parties and ridings across the province. Many MPPs represent ridings that house universities or are adjacent to a university city or town.

OCUFA also hosted an evening reception in the Queen’s Park Dining Room. Speakers included MPP Peggy Sattler, Official Opposition Critic for Colleges and Universities, MPP Karen McCrimmon, Liberal Critic for Colleges and Universities, and MPP Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario. OCUFA representatives, MPPs, journalists, and political staffers also attended and enjoyed refreshments and informal conversation.

Throughout the day, OCUFA ambassadors shared updates and photos from their meetings on social media

In their meetings with MPPs, OCUFA delegates discussed critical issues facing Ontario’s universities and offered solutions for a thriving university sector, including:

  • Increasing funding for Ontario universities by compounded annual increases of 11.75 per cent for five years to bring Ontario up to the national average in per-student funding
  • Helping Ontario universities meet and enhance their missions through sustained, long-term investment, to ensure universities can thrive as educational, economic, and cultural hubs in Ontario communities
  • Scrapping the proposed performance-based funding model for universities
  • Supporting the establishment of a strategy for faculty renewal and pathways for contract faculty towards permanent jobs and stability in their professions

Advocacy Day continues to be a productive and constructive experience for OCUFA and its 31 members organizations to forge connections with elected officials and conduct our ongoing advocacy work in support of a well-funded, world-class public university system.

Ontario professors say new postsecondary funding a drop in the bucket

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TORONTO, February 26, 2024 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations says today’s government announcement of nearly $1.3 billion for universities and colleges over the next three years is an inadequate investment in Ontario’s postsecondary institutions.

“The Minister of Colleges and Universities recognizes that we are facing a funding crisis, but the gap between what has been provided and what is needed is massive,” said Nigmendra Narain, President of OCUFA. “This is a one-time drop in the bucket.”

The announced funding is less than half of the amount recommended by the government-appointed Blue-Ribbon Panel. It is almost eight times less than OCUFA’s recommendation for university funding alone over five years to reach Canada’s funding national average, as laid out in its 2024 pre-budget submission.

“The deficits Ontario universities face are due to a manufactured crisis by the province due to chronic underfunding. And this new spending will keep Ontario’s universities dead last in per-student funding compared to every province in the country,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “Ontario should—and must—do better than this to support universities during this time of crisis.”

OCUFA is pleased to see a commitment to freezing tuition fees for domestic students, but noted there is no commitment to more direct funding for universities to make up for the loss in revenue from that freeze.

OCUFA is also glad to see an increase to the Small, Northern and Rural Grant for colleges and Northern Ontario Grant for Universities and investments being made in mental health support for students.

However, OCUFA is alarmed by the province’s direct allocation of funds to private, third-party reviews of postsecondary institutions.

“We have serious concerns that this will function as a $15 million gift to private consulting firms who have no connection or investment in our public postsecondary system,” said Narain. “We need less private intervention and profiting off our public universities, and more provincial investment and direct consultation with faculty and the people who teach and work with students on campuses every day.”

The government’s proposals add unnecessary red tape, too. They will force universities to go through more administrative red tape to provide information to the government that is already available, such as audit data and proof of “efficiencies”—which remain undefined in the announcement. The Minister offered no new funding for universities to comply with another red tape measure.

“The solution to the chronic underfunding of Ontario’s universities is simple: political will to make a true investment in per-student funding to get us up to the Canadian average, not more red tape to measure ‘efficiencies’ when universities are already operating very efficiently,” said Narain. “Ontarians need transparency from the government about where our public money is going, especially in the wake of recent news about donations from private career colleges to the Minister of Colleges and Universities.”

In its 2024 pre-budget submission, OCUFA recommended annual compounded funding increases of 11.75 per cent for five years to reach the national average; changes to the provincial funding formula that incentivize domestic enrolment; reducing red tape; and increasing direct student grant assistance.

“OCUFA and the government’s own Blue-Ribbon Panel both recognize the urgent need for more funding in a sector under crisis. It’s disappointing that the government has ignored its own Blue-Ribbon Panel’s recommendations and OCUFA’s blueprint for a sustainable public university sector,” said Ahn. “Our public universities provide immense economic and cultural value to our communities.  We want them to thrive, and we can’t do that if we continue to be forced to do more with less.”

OCUFA and its members will present their vision for a successful and sustainable future for Ontario’s public universities at OCUFA’s annual Advocacy Day at Queen’s Park, scheduled for March 20.  

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 18,000 faculty, academic librarians, and academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca

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For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead a
t media@ocufa.on.ca

University of Toronto Librarians negotiate historic changes to policies

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Librarian members of the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) recently concluded six years of negotiations with the university to update the Policies for Librarians (PFL) that define librarians’ working terms at the University of Toronto, replacing the previous PFL in place since 1978.

The PFL now contains language recognizing the integral role of librarians in advancing the University’s mission and in collegial processes. The three areas of responsibility of librarians (professional practice, research and scholarly contributions and creative professional activities, and service) have been defined and made consistent with workload and career progression policies and procedures. Enhanced procedures that ensure greater fairness, job security protections and professional development gains were also won.

Criteria and procedures for appointment, permanency, and promotion have been made consistent and now align with the three areas of librarian responsibilities. Librarian job postings will now be included on U of T’s main Careers page along with faculty and other staff postings. Enhanced procedural protections have been put in place for permanency and promotion reviews: candidates may request a delay in the review process based on the Human Rights Code; and the  denial of permanent status or promotion now requires written reasons to be provided to the candidate, to which they may respond before a final recommendation regarding permanency is made.

New language enshrines a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion as guiding principles for recruitment, appointment, and promotion, with a new mechanism of conditional appointments introduced to support these goals.

Job security provisions have been strengthened, with the removal of the financial exigency clause allowing the Administration to terminate the appointment of a permanent status librarian for reasons of “financial exigency” or “fiscal stringency.” Termination with cause has been more clearly defined.

Contractually Limited Term Appointments (CLTAs) have  gained improvements to their terms and conditions of employment, including job security. These include:

  • clarification of normal rank and duration of appointment
  • a fixed timeline for notification of contract renewal
  • a clear definition of termination with cause
  • enhanced termination and severance pay where non-renewal occurs for reasons other than dismissal with cause

CLTAs are eligible to apply for permanent status stream postings, with CLTA service to be considered in applications, and if successfully appointed, in the timeline for their permanent status review.

In a change due since Scholars Portal first began posting positions funded by the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) via the University of Toronto Libraries system in 2001, two new Letters of Understanding (LOU) address terms and conditions of employment for Scholars Portal librarians. Scholars Portal librarians on CLTAs have gained improvements to job security and terms and conditions that mirror those of other CLTAs, including the eligibility to apply for permanent status stream positions and to have CLTA service counted in applications and if appointed, in the timeline for permanent status review. In addition, Scholars Portal Librarian III and IVs on CLTAs with at least three years of continuous service at the University will automatically be granted a recurring term appointment (Scholars Portal Recurring Term Appointment Librarians or SPRTALs).

In a historic win, the right of full-time and part-time librarians to take Research or Study Leaves is now enshrined in the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between UTFA and the University of Toronto (that serves in lieu of a collective agreement). Under the five-year LOU, this will also apply to SPRTALs.

In another gain for professional development, a five-year LOU contains a commitment by the University to provide permanent status stream librarians with opportunities for secondments for up to 18 months. At the conclusion, the librarian shall normally return to their previous jobs. Secondments may be used to develop or contribute particular expertise for projects or to temporarily replace a librarian while, at the same time, providing an opportunity for career development. CLTA vacancies may also provide opportunities for secondments. Such opportunities shall be circulated to all UTL librarians.

New agreement at Renison University College

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The Renison Association of Academic Staff (RAAS) recently ratified a new three-year collective agreement containing significant monetary and non-monetary gains. The settlement was arrived at during mediation, following several months of negotiations that included strong member communication and engagement.

Significant on the monetary front was the negotiation of a Bill 124 re-opener increase based on the principle of salary parity with the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo. For the current agreement, members received annual salary scale increases of three per cent, three per cent, and 2.5 per cent in each year of the agreement, which will also be applied to progress through the ranks (PTR) increments. Stipends for Academic Unit Leads have also been increased. Other significant gains include job security improvements for Definite Term Lecturers, increased funds for teaching assistant support and professional development, and greater collegiality in the tenure and promotion process.

Effective April 30, 2023, members employed at Renison on or before May 1, 2021, received a two per cent increase to scale, plus $2,500, while members employed at Renison since May 1, 2021, received a one per cent increase to scale, plus $1,500. This increase is not part of the collective agreement, but of the Memorandum of Settlement, with the note that this resolved all claims related to Bill 124 compensation losses.

Definite Term Lecturers (DTLs) have seen major gains in job security and career progression. The six-year limit on consecutive contracts has been removed, a right of first refusal instituted, and the process for consecutive contracts streamlined.  DTLs may now be considered for a permanent position after five consecutive years. The 20 per cent cap on DTLs as a proportion of permanent faculty complement has been softened, with a process for over-riding the cap through negotiation with the faculty association executive.

On teaching supports, the budget for TA support has been increased. Academic Unit Leads can now manage a plan, with new criteria, for the distribution of these funds, and have the flexibility to top up an instructor’s funds under certain conditions. Support for online teaching has been increased, with major course redevelopment (and not just new course development) being eligible for a course release, and a half online course now being eligible for a full course stipend depending on the amount of work involved. Members retain the right to refuse to create or redevelop an online course.

Members have also seen improvements in professional support, with an increase in professional expense reimbursements (PER) as well as in the research grants fund. DTLs are now eligible for PER, and Continuing Lecturers are now eligible to apply for research grants.

Other notable changes in the new agreement include the introduction of a department-level tenure and promotion committee and clarification of the processes for review and termination of Academic Unit Leads.

Ontario university professors call Appeal Court ruling on Bill 124 a win for public sector workers

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TORONTO, February 12, 2024 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations said the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss the province’s appeal of the controversial and unconstitutional Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act—formerly Bill 124—is a win for workers.

“This is a clear victory for Ontario’s public sector workers that comes after years of fighting for our Charter rights to free and fair collective bargaining,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal recognized the constitutionality of collective bargaining rights and look forward to continuing to redress the wrongs brought on by this harmful legislation.”

A two-to-one majority of the Court decided the ruling, determining that Bill 124 substantially interfered with workers’ collective bargaining rights. OCUFA member organizations joined an Ontario Federation of Labour-led coalition of over 40 unions representing more than 250,000 public sector workers to bring a successful Charter challenge to the legislation in 2019.

The Coalition argued that the legislation interfered with the rights of workers to free and fair collective bargaining, threatened pay equity and benefits for contract faculty and other marginalized workers, and could erode the foundations of Ontario’s vital public services.

Since the law was declared unconstitutional in 2022 by Justice Markus Koehnen of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, affected workers have successfully bargained and won changes to their collective agreements to redress the wrongs of the law, including restrictions on wage increases during spiking inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The government wasted taxpayers’ money and time trying to attack workers with this appeal, when it should be focused on improving workers’ lives after years of pandemic struggles and inflation,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “The government must stop appealing and turn their attention to adequately funding our public sector, including public universities, so that financial remedies can be made. This will also improve student learning conditions in our world-class universities.”

OCUFA encourages eligible faculty member organizations to revisit collective agreements negotiated under the legislation to redress the harms of the law, and will monitor the next steps in this process, including the unfortunate possibility of a government appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 18,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.

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For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead a
t media@ocufa.on.ca

Ontario professors offer a blueprint for revitalizing public universities

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TORONTO/SUDBURY, January 30, 2024 –The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations recommended four solutions for investing in Ontario’s publicly funded university system in its pre-budget submission, Empowering Tomorrow: The OCUFA Blueprint for Revitalizing Ontario’s Public Universities.

In the submission, released today, OCUFA outlined the problems created by provincial underfunding and offered its solutions for a thriving postsecondary sector:

  • RECOMMENDATION ONE: OCUFA calls for compounding annual total provincial university funding increases of 11.75 per cent for a period of five years to reach the national average.
  • RECOMMENDATION TWO: Instead of increasing domestic tuition, OCUFA echoes the call of student groups for government to enhance the student assistance budget and convert loans into grants.
  • RECOMMENDATION THREE: OCUFA calls for a review of Ontario’s provincial funding formula, including the corridor model, with an embedded goal of supporting domestic enrolment growth.
  • RECOMMENDATION FOUR: OCUFA calls for reversing the planned implementation of the performance-based funding scheme.

“For too long, faculty, staff, and students at Ontario universities have been forced to do much more with much less due to this underfunding,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “Our budget recommendations will ensure that our world-class publicly funded universities not just survive in the future but continue to thrive.”

Ontario has the lowest per-domestic student funding level for universities in Canada. The province provided $9,890 in total university funding per domestic full-time equivalent in 2021-22, the most recent year for which there is comprehensive data. This is a total far behind the national average of $15,807. Ontario is also the only province that imposes funding caps on domestic students—a disincentive for universities to enrol more domestic students.

The government of Ontario’s disinvestment has led universities to look elsewhere for revenue, including sky-high international student tuition fees. OCUFA noted the great benefits brought to our campuses by international students and warned that such a heavy reliance on their high tuition fee dollars is very risky. This number is now capped by the federal government, which underscores the urgent need for more robust, sustainable provincial funding for Ontario’s universities.

“The Ontario government’s blue-ribbon panel on postsecondary education recognized the need for more funding for our universities, and the government has not yet commented on these findings,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “The current state of affairs for Ontario universities is unsustainable. Our recommendations for the provincial budget provide a path forward for investing in public education.”

OCUFA presented its recommendations to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs (SCFEA) in Sudbury today during Pre-Budget Consultations. OCUFA continues to monitor the Ontario government’s response to the recommendations set forth by the Blue-Ribbon Panel over the next month.

OCUFA’s full pre-budget submission is available here.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 18,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.

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For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at media@ocufa.on.ca

Ontario government response to international student cap misses the mark, professors say

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TORONTO, January 26, 2024 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations said the Minister of Colleges and Universities’ response to a two-year proposed cap on international student visas won’t solve the real problems plaguing the province’s universities.

“The government’s proposals for oversight of our postsecondary institutions miss the mark and focus on a manufactured crisis,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “Ontario needs international students, but universities need more funding from the government to provide the support that international—and domestic—students need to succeed inside and outside the classroom. The Ministry has not provided any tools to do this with these proposals.”

Narain noted that the Ministry’s announcement provides no funding or plan to help universities to fulfill new requirements like their call for a guarantee for housing options. He also raised concerns that the proposals do not restrict partnerships between public universities and private institutions, despite reports of bad actors in similar partnerships in the college sector.

“Ontario universities sit last in per-student funding in the country, far below the Canadian average. Some of our public universities in need of resources are targeted by private corporations that are often not in alignment with the rigorous standards, governance structures, and educational missions of colleges and universities,” he said. “We have seen the worst-case scenario for this already and cannot go down the road of more privatization at our public universities.”

OCUFA also pointed out that the government ignored the fundamental mission of universities to develop critical research, teach problem-solving and critical thinking, and to prepare today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow.

“A university education is, and has been, versatile and adaptable to the labour market for decades,” said Narain. “The government must support the innovation and pursuit of excellence that universities provide to our province’s economy.”

“The government’s Blue-Ribbon panel on higher education acknowledged that Ontario universities need more funding. Months after receiving the panel’s report the government has yet to respond to the recommendations and commitments to our universities,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “OCUFA is recommending an annual 11.75 per cent increase in funding for the next five years to bring us to the Canadian average.”

OCUFA will present its pre-budget submission recommendations to the government’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs this month to offer solutions for a stable, sustainable public postsecondary sector.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 18,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.

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For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at media@ocufa.on.ca

STATEMENT: Professors say Ontario government must address funding gap from international student cap

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TORONTO, January 23, 2024 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations called on the provincial government to step up their investment in postsecondary education following a federal announcement capping the number of approved international student visas.

Ontario universities and colleges rely heavily on tuition fees from international students—which are significantly higher than domestic tuition fees—to offset gross underfunding from the provincial government.

“For too long, the Ontario government has cut off revenue streams and allowed bad actors in the postsecondary system to unfairly treat international students like ATMs,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “To address these bad actors and support our world-class education system, the way forward is for the provincial government to adequately fund our public system.”

OCUFA is calling on the province to increase annual funding for Ontario universities by 11.75 per cent over the next five years. The federal government estimated the reduction of international students in Ontario could be greater than 50 per cent of the current population.

“The change in policy means that robust, sustainable provincial government funding for postsecondary education is even more urgent to ensure the continued quality of our system,” said Narain. “The province must act now and increase university operating funding.”

“The Ford government’s own Blue-Ribbon panel on the future of higher education recognized the need for more government funding for our public institutions, and the province needs to pay attention,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “We are still waiting for the government’s response to the panel’s final report, and it’s time to take important steps towards securing the future of our world-class university system.”

OCUFA will submit its pre-budget submission to the Ontario government’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs this month to offer solutions for a thriving public postsecondary sector.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 18,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.

For more information, contact: media@ocufa.on.ca

Agreement ratified at Huron University College

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Early in November, members of the Huron University College Faculty Association (HUCFA) ratified a new four-year collective agreement containing significant gains on members’ priorities related to improved terms and conditions for Program Sessional (teaching intensive) members, job security for contract faculty, and protections in case of financial exigency or program restructuring.

On compensation, Tenure-stream/Limited-Term Appointment (LTA) and Per Course members received salary scale increases of two percent, 2.5 percent, 3.75 percent, and 3.25 percent over the four years of the agreement. Program Sessional members received significantly greater increases of 7.5 percent, 3.25, 4.5 percent, and five percent. Other monetary gains were made in the areas of health spending and professional development, and pensions.

In workload gains, pre-tenure or LTA members who fulfill the duty of Chair/Director/Coordinator will get extra course release, while pre-tenure members have gained service load protections for committee work. Coordinators will receive an enhanced faculty allowance in recognition of workload, and Chairs/Directors/Coordinators heading up an external review will receive additional administrative and clerical supports in the review year.

Contract faculty saw a significant enhancement of job security, with current practice now enshrined in the collective agreement. New Per Course contracts for which no member already holds Right of First Refusal will be filled from within the academic unit, or then the broader bargaining unit, before being posted externally. New Program Sessional contracts will follow a similar order. When a Program Sessional or LTA position is replaced by a Tenure-stream position, the Program Sessional or LTA member will be considered for a Direct Appointment. An improvement has also been made in how the research and service experience of Per Course members is counted toward their tenure and promotion requirements should they receive a tenure-stream position. The Collective Agreement includes language that outlines more advantageous counting of previous teaching, postdoctoral, or professional experience for the purposes of placement on members’ relevant salary grids.

Of particular note is the inclusion of two new articles on financial exigency and program restructuring. The articles include consultation obligations (both collegial consultation and with the union); recall rights for tenure-stream members who are laid off; severance pay entitlements; and a commitment to redeployment of tenure-stream members.

New agreement at Nipissing University

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In mid-November, members of the Nipissing University Faculty Association, Full-Time Academic Staff Bargaining Unit (FASBU) ratified a new four-year collective agreement. In addition to gains on compensation and benefits, and workload, the new collective agreement contains significant language toward Indigenization.

On compensation, members received Across-The-Board (ATB) increases of three percent, 2.25 percent, 2.25 percent and 2.75 percent over the four years, Progress-Through-the-Ranks (PTR) increases in each year, an increase to compensation for supervision at various levels in year one, and annual increases to the overload stipend.

Other monetary gains were made in the areas of health spending, professional development, and pensions. On workload, Librarian and Archivist workload may be adjusted to include research, scholarly, and creative activity. Faculty members who are Principal Investigators and meet certain criteria may receive an additional course release for each year of the grant.

Of particular note is the inclusion of Indigenization language in several areas of the agreement. In terms of rights and responsibilities of members, the teachings of Indigenous Elders and/or Traditional Knowledge Carriers/Keepers must be acknowledged through proper references and where possible, authorship. Indigenous members may demonstrate service through relationships and commitments to communities as well as through mentoring relationships (this latter also applies to members of equity-deserving groups). Indigenous members also now have greater protections in the areas of service and tenure and promotion. Indigenous Elder or Knowledge Carrier/Keepers, for example, may be an external referee for tenure and promotion. Any member can also be accompanied by a support person, who can be an Indigenous Elder and/or Traditional Knowledge Carrier/Keeper, at any stage of the grievance process.