OCUFA Report - What the 2018 election results mean for Ontario's professors and academic librarians

The original OCUFA Report can be found at https://ocufa.on.ca

What the 2018 election results mean for Ontario's professors and academic librarians

On June 7, the Ontario voters elected a Progressive Conservative majority government led by Doug Ford. This election outcome has a number of important implications for professors and academic librarians in the province and will pose several challenges and opportunities for the university sector over the next four years.

We expect the Progressive Conservative government to move swiftly to implement their platform promises and, despite postsecondary education being largely omitted from the PC platform, it is difficult to imagine that some of the cost savings the government is seeking won't come from education.

Reflecting on the statements made by Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party during the election campaign, OCUFA has prepared an analysis of what a majority PC government could mean for professors and academic librarians in Ontario, and postsecondary education across the province.

Read OCUFA's analysis of what the 2018 provincial election results mean for Ontario's professors and academic librarians.

OCUFA pleased with Ontario Human Rights Tribunal decision supporting rights of older workers

In 2006, the Ontario Human Rights Code was amended to prohibit mandatory retirement. However, this change was accompanied by new provisions that permitted employers to reduce or stop providing certain group benefits for workers when they turn 65.

In 2012, Wayne Talos, a high school teacher at the Grand Erie District School Board, commenced a proceeding at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal after his health and dental benefits were cut off when he turned 65. He challenged the constitutionality of the provisions that allowed for this, arguing that they violated his right to equal treatment on the basis of age.

As an occupational group, university professors are the most likely to work past 65. Consequently, the outcome of these proceedings were of significant concern for Ontario faculty. OCUFA applied for and was granted intervenor status in these proceedings, along with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, and the Ontario Elementary Catholic Teachers' Association.

On May 18, 2018, the Tribunal released a decision finding that the Ontario Human Rights Code provisions being challenged breached the equality provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and were unconstitutional. While the Tribunal's decision only applies to the Talos case, it creates an important precedent - especially for grievance arbitration. The decision will still need to be judicially reviewed and upheld for it to substantively impact existing law.

Faculty associations now have a strong basis on which to engage with employers and discuss what steps they are taking to bring their group benefit plans into compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code as interpreted in the Talos case.

OCUFA is very pleased with the decision. We firmly believe that no one should be discriminated against based on their age and the Tribunal's decision represents a significant victory for Ontario's faculty. We will continue to defend the constitutional rights of Ontario's professors and academic librarians.

OCUFA's 155th Board of Directors meeting reviews progress made in 2017-18 academic year

On Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13, OCUFA held its final Board of Directors meeting of the 2017-18 academic year. During the weekend, board members discussed the organization's current priorities - good jobs and vibrant universities, university funding, and capacity building - with a focus on the postsecondary issues that were likely to receive the most attention in the provincial election.

Board members were also presented with an update on OCUFA's provincial election advocacy work, voted to create a new Investigative Journalism Fellowship and Grievance award, and elected new members to the OCUFA Executive Committee. During a special lunchtime reception on the Saturday, board members and colleagues celebrated the winner of OCUFA's Service Award and the Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship.

New issue of Academic Matters examines importance of public funding for Ontario's universities

Ontario's public postsecondary education system has been evolving for over a century. Core to its development has been a foundation of robust public funding delivered primarily through the provincial government.

The government's approach to university funding has profound implications for the student experience and research contributions. A government that makes university funding a priority and maintains a high level of public investment is not just investing in institutions and educational outcomes, but in people, their communities, and our collective future.

This spring's provincial election campaign presented a valuable opportunity to discuss these challenges, so in this issue of Academic Matters we explore why public funding is so important for our universities and how we can work together to make funding postsecondary education a priority for the next government.

The case for publicly funded universities

Graham Cox explains why Ontario's universities are important public spaces that depend on robust public funding to thrive and how the structure of the funding model impacts their fundamental mandate.

The public value of public funding for research

Jeff Noonan demonstrates how basic, curiosity-driven research continues to take a backseat to research linked to short-term commercial profit and says we must change how we invest in research.

What happened to the issue of postsecondary education?

Andre Turcotte and Heather Scott-Marshall discuss the ways that postsecondary education - an issue that affects a majority of Ontarians - could feature more prominently in provincial election campaigns.

Building Solidarity on Ontario's university campuses

Nour Alideeb illustrates how university administrators often advance unpopular agendas by pitting students against faculty and describes how campus alliances can be used to better advocate for student and faculty interests.

Looking at the big picture: A breakdown of university funding in Ontario through the decades

In a two-page spread, Academic Matters explores the history of university funding in Ontario, and how its composition has changed over time.

Humour Matters: It's time to make meaningless words great again

Steve Penfold provides a humorous perspective on funding rhetoric and how it might be turned to good use.

Divisions in the university commons yield dividends: A partial review of Peter MacKinnon's University Commons Divided

In a web exclusive, Root Gorelick provides some thoughts on the new book University Commons Divided, which explores governance debates on university campuses across Canada.