FAUW President Bryan Tolson (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Treasurer Dan Brown (Computer Science) lobbied at Queen’s Park on March 20, advocating for investment in the university sector, renewal of faculty ranks, and better working conditions for short-term and contract faculty.
Tolson and Brown were part of a team of 25 faculty members from across Ontario, brought together by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), which represents 17,000 faculty members and academic librarians at 28 universities across Ontario.
Tolson and Brown met with several MPPs from Waterloo Region and neighbouring Wellington County: Hon. Daiene Vernile (Kitchener Centre), Hon. Kathryn McGarry (Cambridge), Michael Harris (Kitchener-Conestoga), and Ted Arnott (Wellington-Halton Hills); they also met with legislative staff for Catherine Fife (Kitchener-Waterloo).
|Faculty members meeting with MPP Hon. Daiene Vernile (Kitchener Centre)|
They highlighted the important role that universities have in our communities, and the need to reinvest in post-secondary education after a decade of flatlined provincial budgets for universities, which have caused student-to-faculty ratios to skyrocket in Ontario, and which have resulted in increased reliance on part-time faculty on short-term contracts. Ontario’s student-to-faculty ratio is currently 31:1, the highest in Canada; the average for the rest of the country is 22:1.
|Faculty members meeting with MPP Michael Harris (Kitchener-Conestoga)|
Tolson and Brown were joined in their meetings by two contract faculty from Wilfrid Laurier University, Carl Simpson and Kimberly Ellis-Hale, who have been teaching on term-to-term contracts for 19 and 21 years, respectively. These colleagues highlighted the ways in which their work is not adequately compensated despite their decades of service to their employer, and how the recent changes to the Employment Standards Act don’t address many of their concerns. For example, contract faculty lack any benefits or pension, and their short-term contracts make acquiring mortgages or car loans very difficult.
|Faculty members meeting with Ted Arnott (Wellington-Halton Hills)|
Other activities of the day included sitting in the public gallery for the first Question Period after the March 19 Throne Speech, and a reception with several additional MPPs and staffers, including Hon. Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough-Guildwood), the Minister for Advanced Education and Skills Development, and Granville Anderson (Durham), who has a daughter currently studying at Waterloo.