CUASA Expresses Concerns about Provincial Government Changes to the Postsecondary Sector

CUASA Expresses Concerns about Provincial Government Changes to the Postsecondary Sector

May 30, 2019

CUASA shares the concerns of the York University Faculty Association regarding the worrisome changes the provincial government is in the process of implementing that will affect senior faculty members receiving their pensions.

As reported back in February, CUASA was asked to consult with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities regarding “faculty renewal”. CUASA responded, telling the Ministry we are concerned that the generalized statements being relied upon about faculty over 65; pension annuitants; and assumptions that there is a correlation between aging faculty and slow-enrollment growth, are without foundation. We also strongly encouraged the Ministry to undertake a much more rigorous analysis and engage in further discussions with all stakeholders prior to making any concrete policy decisions.

Nonetheless, the government has introduced changes in Bill 100, the budget implementation bill, which received royal assent yesterday, May 29. These changes will give the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities the power to “make regulations governing the reduction, limitation and alteration of compensation due to an individual” that has started to receive a pension.

We are dismayed that these changes are being made under the guise of promoting faculty renewal, despite there being no guarantees that any “younger” workers will be guaranteed tenure-track or secure positions. We are equally concerned by suggestions that older faculty are less productive, and are undeserving of receiving their full salary while drawing a pension. Pensions are deferred earnings that members have worked their entire careers to accrue, which they are required by law to begin drawing at age 71. Implementing changes that will alter the compensation faculty receive because they are required to draw a pension is unjust, particularly when a salary is earned for work that is done.

CUASA is also concerned about potential upcoming changes to postsecondary collective bargaining rights. The provincial government has suggested the introduction of legislative measures as a potential means of managing public sector compensation, such as wage cap legislation to limit already agreed to annual CDIs.

On April 4, CUASA was asked to participate in sector-wide consultations with the Treasury Board Secretariat on “how to manage compensation growth in a way that results in wage settlements that are modest, reasonable and sustainable”. We share OCUFA’s concerns that these “consultations” appear to be nothing more than a charade designed to interfere in university autonomy and radically change collective bargaining across the sector.

Only 35% of university funding comes from the provincial government. This funding is already being threatened, with the province announcing in the recent budget that over the next five years, 60% of this funding will be tied to performance-based metrics.

Further, unlike other parts of the broader public sector, which are more closely tied to the government, and/or primarily dependent on government funding, university are independent and autonomous, with multiple funding sources. As a result, there is neither a basis nor justification for the province to apply its “one size fits all” approach to compensation in the broader public sector to universities.

As we stated in our submission to the Treasury Board Secretariat, CUASA strongly opposes any form of legislated interference in collective bargaining, such as through legislated caps or through the imposition of some form of centralized bargaining. We also endorse OCUFA’s submission on the same topic, and share their concerns that wage cap legislation was likely written before these consultations even began.

We will be holding a Town Hall to discuss these changes, what we know, what we don’t know, as well as possible means to address these attacks on our sector (including possible legal challenges). The Town Hall will be held on Tuesday, June 4 from 1:30-3:00pm in 210 Tory Building. Light refreshments will be provided. All CUASA members are welcome.

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