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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)


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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.
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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)

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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.

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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.


Rahul Sapra
President, Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations

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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.


Rahul Sapra
President of OCUFA

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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.
Chris Glover (Spadina—Fort York), the Official Opposition’s Colleges and Universities critic.
Kathleen O. Wynne (Don Valley West), Liberal Party’s Colleges and Universities critic.
Mike Shreiner, Green Party of Ontario.

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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.


Rahul Sapra
OCUFA President

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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.


Rahul Sapra
OCUFA President

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