Today, the College Employer Council (CEC) team presented a series of questions about the workload proposals that the Union presented last Wednesday. As in the case of their response yesterday to our tabled equity proposals, many of those questions presented challenges to the Union’s claim about faculty workload needs. The CEC team also presented a proposal for a task force to review workload issues. We will review their presentation and respond to it in upcoming days.
At the end of yesterday’s meeting at the bargaining table, the CEC team posed over 70+ questions in relation to our equity proposal. Almost all of the employer’s questions centred around challenges to the research and data that formed the basis of faculty’s demands. Today, we reviewed and responded to their feedback, including our displeasure with their dismissal of faculty’s lived experiences. We pointed to those areas of our proposals where we had presented policies for the collection of data, and we proposed additional language as a shared definition of equity, using their response yesterday as a starting point, and asserting the importance of acknowledging the presence of barriers to equity in the Colleges as a first step in any policy to remove those barriers. As we committed to you early on, we are including our presentation and proposal (the new language is bolded and underlined).
As mentioned in yesterday’s update, we have received documents related to our disclosure requests on the colleges’ financial situation. Based on the information provided by the CEC, there is a surplus of over $100 million in the Ontario college system for the current fiscal year, following on the heels of a $333 million dollar surplus in 2019-2020. Only two colleges–Durham and Fleming–are posting a deficit, and this is despite both of these institutions receiving government bailouts of $7.1 million and $6 million, respectively. Nevertheless, the CEC has repeatedly referred to the funding challenges faced by the colleges. While we agree that chronic under-funding from the government is a challenge, it is clear that the colleges are in a position to invest in the changes that faculty and students need to ensure that academic quality is the central concern in a rapidly changing college system.Our hope is that this round can create a better foundation for labour relations by taking faculty priorities seriously and considering our input meaningfully. Over the coming weeks, we will be exploring in more depth the key issues that you’ve identified in your working conditions, and the context currently facing the Ontario college system.