Provincial Update and Event reminder

Dear Colleagues,

This weekend, Marcus and I represented TUFA at the OCUFA Board Meeting in Toronto. Sue Wurtele, of course, was also there, but in her capacity as President of our provincial affiliate. Under Sue’s leadership, OCUFA continues to advocate strongly for Ontario Universities on multiple fronts. Below, I offer a few highlights regarding matters that we need to attend to as a collective in the coming year, including budget advocacy, governance issues, Bill 26, and privatization.

Reminder: TUFA Socials this week

I will take this opportunity to remind members of TUFA’s upcoming social events, beginning tomorrow (Tuesday, February 28th) on the Durham campus in Room A125 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm. This Thursday (March 2nd), members are invited to the Ceilie Pub in Champlain College for a catered Happy Hour with host bar from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.

Budget advocacy and protecting public universities

OCUFA has launched a new campaign focusing on protecting our public universities, and the more support coming to OCUFA from Ontario Universities, the better. I have attached OCUFA’s “Strong Universities for Strong Communities Pre-Budget Submission February 2023” for your information. This initiative is important for several reasons:

1. Ontario now has the lowest per capita public funding for universities in Canada.

2. 25% of OCUFA members are now employed on a contract-by-contract basis.

3. The university sector is normally invited to present at the pre-budget meetings of the Ontario Government. This year, the Province of Ontario shut out university voices entirely, including OCUFA, student organizations, and the Council of Ontario Universities (COU). I heard, though, that the Ontario Snowmobiling Association was invited to present their budget requests.

4. The language used to describe Ontario’s university system needs updating. OCUFA is now deliberately using the term “public universities” instead of “post-secondary education” or the provincial government’s nouveau term “publicly-assisted universities.” Regarding the latter, some university administrations in Ontario began to use the term “publicly assisted” to highlight chronic underfunding and draw attention to the need for greater autonomy from the province, i.e., “If you are not going to fund us adequately, then step out of our business.” Well, the province did not step out of university business, opting instead to increase control. The government then adopted the term and is using it – arguably – to alter citizen’s perceptions regarding the degree to which they should fund universities. 

By using the language of “public universities,” OCUFA reminds Ontario of the enormous value of universities and an educated citizenry, and the need maintain that public good. Let’s join them in the effort! (A snowmobile rally maybe?)

University Governance

There are many threats to university governance evident right now, and we plan to discuss this issue at the next GMM.  It would help governance significantly if we had a regular faculty meeting ahead of Senate. I know most of us have felt too busy to organize anything else, but if we get a system in place, it will be ready for us if and when we need it.

In the meantime, it’s good to stay optimistic about governance. Senate efforts can be effective. Recently, Western University’s Senate stopped their administration from making a deal with Navitas who were offering to provide a prep year for incoming international students (at great expense to those students).

Bill 26 Updates

OCUFA provided an informative briefing  about the legal complexity of, and labour issues associated with, Bill 26 (the so-called “Strengthening Post-secondary Institutions and Students Act”). TUFA is identifying the steps that we should take in preparation for the implementation of the Bill, effective July 1, 2023. We will need to consult with students and with the employer regarding revisions to policies concerning sexual misconduct.

You can read more about concerns with Bill 26 here:

We will discuss at the next membership meeting and provide further updates then.


OCUFA has been advocating at both the provincial and federal levels of government to exclude Universities from the CCAA and BIA processes, as these were intended and designed to manage corporate bankruptcies, and not public institutions. OCUFA met with Minister François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry of Canada) and will meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, about this matter next week.

TUFA will be signing on to the letter that OCUFA has prepared for Ministers Champagne and Freeland as well as Prime Minister Trudeau to let them know that we support OCUFA – and all Ontario Universities – in their work for this crucial legislative change.

Impact of the Pandemic on Academic Work

At the meeting, we discussed new research findings on changes to academic workloads during the pandemic. Equity-deserving groups, contract faculty, and primary caregivers of children and/or elder adults were especially affected, with much higher teaching and service hours, and significantly reduced research time. Junior tenure-track colleagues experienced significant stress and overwork as they felt they had to keep their research productivity high despite the additional teaching work required to teach and support students remotely. These colleagues also suffered from the loss of academic community that is so vital for making connections and developing academic careers. The physical and mental health of many faculty declined during this period in response to increased stress, and this had effects on output as well. Overall, the negative effects on research of the markedly increased teaching loads and student supports, alongside increased caregiving over a protracted period of time, are likely to have long-term effects on many careers. We need to explore seriously how these inequities might be addressed by the university. A few ideas were discussed at the meeting which I can share at our next meeting. We’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts about potential solutions.

In Solidarity,


Dr. Moira Howes

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy

President, Trent University Faculty Association