The University of Ottawa record-breaking financial surplus and its impact

On September 30, members received a communication from President Frémont announcing a $91.8 million surplus for 2018-2019. This excess in revenue over expenses is a new record for the University of Ottawa, besting the previous record of $69.8 million from 2017-2018 by $22 million – a 31 percent increase. As APUO members are confronted with a growing workload, and fewer resources to support the educational and research mandates of our institution due to the austerity measures of recent years, we are deeply troubled by this massive surplus. 
The impact on our workload
In his communication about the University’s financial results, Jacques Frémont mentions “delays in hiring” as a contributing factor to this financial surplus. The APUO is baffled that the delay in hiring university personnel is spun as a positive factor contributing to this surplus. In our view, this tone-deaf statement by the Central Administration highlights the need for APUO members to continue to mobilize around the issue of workload. Despite raising the issue of our growing workload on numerous occasions through petitions, letters, and meetings, President Frémont’s message once again overlooks the necessity of adopting a new budgetary approach that could reverse the deterioration of our working conditions – which are largely our students’ learning conditions. 
While an increase in the number of APUO minimum complement would certainly help to alleviate some of the workload pressures felt by our members, filling existing vacancies in APUO and support staff positions would go a long way in improving our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions. As mentioned in a September bargaining update bulletin by the Support Staff of the University of Ottawa (SSUO) “we are telling the University that the number of unfilled, abolished and contract positions has increased dramatically in the last 2 years and this undoubtedly adds to the stress of the current employees which negatively impacts the students experience.” Furthermore, during a Special Assembly on October 17, the SSUO highlighted that the University’s $91.8 million excess in revenue is equivalent to the total salary mass of SSUO members. Needless to say, the Central Administration could afford to fill existing vacancies, which it budgets for every year, and create new support staff and APUO positions to redress the concerns surrounding our growing workload and its consequences on the wellbeing and health of University personnel. Indeed, part of the $91.8 million in excess revenue over expenditure could have been spent to improve the students to professor and librarian ratios and to introduce additional support services for students. 
The University budget: a problem of priorities
The Central Administration has a serious problem of priorities. While there are delays in the filling of vacant positions and a refusal to prioritise investments in additional APUO and SSUO positions, we can’t help but highlight a growing salary mass of senior and middle management positions. Between 2009 and 2016, the senior and middle management to students ratio has more than doubled from 9.8 per 10,000 students to 21.2 per 10,000 students.[1] If the Central Administration can justify budgeting a growing salary mass of senior and middle management positions, it can afford to allocate greater resources to hire key players that directly enhance the student experience: professors, librarians, and support staff.  
As is the case every year, the Central Administration ended its communication with a prelude to austerity by announcing that it was anticipating an operating fund deficit of $17.4 million. By adopting a budget on a modified cash basis[2] as opposed to a standard accounting basis,[3] the Central Administration is once again planning to withhold resources from faculties, the library, and student services. With more than half a billion dollars in cumulative surpluses since 2007 ($521.26 million precisely), the APUO is confident in the Central Administration’s ability to afford more tenure-track faculty, librarians, and support staff, a proposal widely supported by students and campus workers alike. However, our priorities are not reflected in the 2019-2020 University budget adopted by the Board of Governors, nor in the narrative promoted by the Central Administration.  
University of Ottawa surpluses/deficits

Financial Statements (SAB)
Modified Cash Basis Standard Accounting Basis (SAB)
2016-2017 financial year

$4.9M operating deficit
$16M surplus $48.6M surplus
2017-2018 financial year

$4.6M operating deficit
$15M surplus $69.8M surplus
2018-2019 financial year

Balanced (operating) 
Not published $91.8M surplus
2019-2020 financial year

$17.4M operating deficit
$22.2M surplus To Be Determined

These consecutive financial surpluses coupled with our increasingly challenging working conditions underscore the need for a more collegial governance model at our institution. It is our view that the Board of Governors, which is mostly made up of external appointees, is out of touch with the reality faced by students and campus-workers. Students, professors, librarians, and support staff have for years demanded greater resources with the aim of improving our educational and research outcomes, and to improve the overall student experience. However, through our current governance model, the priorities of key University stakeholders are overlooked. 
For your information, here are a few references to past communications sent by the Central Administration announcing austerity measures:

  • In May 2015, the Central Administration “adopted a series of measures to reduce spending by $10.4 million, limit expenditure growth and a number of one-time cost reductions.”[4]
  • In May 2016, the Central Administration implemented more structural and one-time cost-cutting measures which included “a permanent 2% decrease in the base budgets of faculties and services.” [5]
  • In October 2016, the Central Administration detailed some past measures that included the “suspension of renovation projects and contributions from faculties and services of 10% of their accumulated surplus.”[6]
  • In December 2016, the Central Administration implemented new cost-cutting measures including “Construction and renovation projects are suspended, unless required by safety or legal obligations; All discretionary expenses, such as travel, will be restricted; A hiring freeze on all contract or honorarium-based administrative and support staff positions, except in rare cases when approved by the vice-president concerned. A freeze on external job postings and on external hiring to fill temporary or permanent administrative or support staff positions; No retroactive salary adjustments when positions are evaluated or reclassified; No position reclassifications until further notice, except for previously approved unit reorganizations.”[7]
  • In May 2017, the Central Administration implemented new cost-cutting measures in order to reduce expenditures by a total of $22M.[8]
  • In September 2019, the Central Administration stated that their surplus was in part attributable to “delays in hiring.”[9]


[1] Data pulled from the sunshine list by REGI Consulting, “Notes about uOttawa’s Draft of and Executive Compensation Program,” February 2018.
[2] A modified cash basis accounting model only considers cash in hand without considering accounts receivables or other incoming revenues when establishing a budget.
[3] A standard accounting basis model considers both cash in hand and incoming revenues and accounts receivables when establishing a budget.
[4] May 26, 2015 email from the Vice-President, Resources
[6] October 11, 2016 email from the Vice-President, Resources 

Anti-Black, Profiling, Carding, and Harassment on Campus

Dear members,
On September 14, a black student and University employee was carded by a security guard while entering his campus residence. This is the second known carding incident to take place on campus in four months. We condemn in the strongest possible way the carding of Wiliston Mason, and we urge the Central Administration to put an end to this discriminatory practice. Furthermore, we call on the Central Administration to implement the demands outlined in the APUO BIPOC Caucus’ letter of June 16 and to make the agendas and minutes of the President’s Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus public. 
Following the carding incident that took place on June 11, the Central Administration commissioned an external investigation, which found that Jamal Koulmiye-Boyce had been carded as a result of racial profiling, and that protection services’ response was “neither proportional nor reasonable in the circumstance.”[1] The report also underscores the need for Protection Service Officers to receive “nuanced and up-to-date training on issues pertaining to race, including racial discrimination.”[2]  We urge the Central Administration to provide the necessary resources to ensure such training is delivered to all officers providing security services on our campus. 
Since the June 11 carding incident, Policy 33 – the policy that authorizes Protection Services Officers to request proof of identity from persons on campus – has been reviewed, and interim directives on its interpretation have been put in place. The interim directives allow for the continued practice of demanding identification from community members under specific circumstances. However, these are still at the discretion and interpretation of Protection Services Officers, and leave room for the practice of racial profiling to continue. The APUO is unsatisfied with the interim directives and urges the Central Administration to put an end to the practice of carding altogether. 
Racial profiling, carding, and the harassment of black, Indigenous, and racialized students and community members is unacceptable and has no place at our institution. The Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Superior Court of Ontario have, through numerous rulings, labeled the practice of street carding as unlawful and unconstitutional. The APUO, therefore, fails to see why the practice continues to be permitted on campus.
Following the June 11 carding incident, the Office of the President has struck a Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus. The APUO is concerned with the very opaque manner in which this Committee is conducting its affairs. This Committee, which lacks adequate stake-holder representation, does not hold public meetings or publish agendas and minutes. While this, unfortunately, does fall in line with the general lack of transparency we observe in our Central Administration’s decision-making processes, members of our community who experience racism have the most valuable insight to challenge systemic racism on campus. In fact, several BIPOC members of our community have already taken the time to reflect on racism at our institution and provided the Central Administration with demands that could foster a safer and more inclusive environment for BIPOC students and campus workers. Many of these demands were echoed by the University of Ottawa Student Union (UOSU), the Black Student Leaders Association (BSLA), and several other student groups, demonstrating a general agreement among our BIPOC community on steps that could be undertaken to address systemic racism at our institution. We urge the Central Administration to set up an inclusive and transparent consultation process and to listen to these voices. 

We invite you to read and sign the letter published by several concerned APUO membersin response to Wiliston Mason’s carding incident on September 14. The letter will be sent to President Frémont on Tuesday, October 15 at 3pm.

[1] CODJOE, Esi, Investigation Report, University of Ottawa, June 12, 2019 Protection Services Incident, Turnpenney Milne LLP, p.33
[2] CODJOE, Esi, Investigation Report, University of Ottawa, June 12, 2019 Protection Services Incident, Turnpenney Milne LLP, p.36

Government consultation regarding senior members

In the spring, the APUO expressed concerns regarding an addendum to the Budget Bill that gives the Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities the power to interfere with collective agreements to impose regulations that would reduce, including to zero, the salaries of members who work while collecting their pension. 

Since then, the government has launched a consultation and claims – falsely according to our analysis – that senior members working and collecting a pension are preventing faculty renewal. The policy proposals outlined in the government’s consultation document fail to consider the fact that professors and librarians often start their careers later than most other workers. Furthermore, this is clearly a case of age-based discrimination, with negative repercussions on gender equity as well. 

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association (OCUFA) and many other faculty associations across the province share our concerns with regards to the potential outcome of this consultation process. Please read the OCUFA’s submission and the APUO’s submission for this consultation. 

University of Ottawa Leadership Remains White and Largely Male

The Academic Women’s Association at the University of Alberta recently published a report titled “U15 Leadership Remains Largely White and Male Despite 33 Years of Equity Initiatives.” The report presents the data from the 2019 Leadership Diversity Gap study led by Dr. Malinda S. Smith and highlights the ongoing challenges as it relates to equitable, diverse, and inclusive representation among leadership at U15 universities. 

The University of Ottawa ranked 13th among U15 universities in terms of diverse representation among Deans. Eighty percent (80%) of Deans at our institution are white male, while twenty percent (20%) are white women. Indeed, there is a complete absence of members of Indigenous Peoples and visible minorities among Deans. In our last round of collective bargaining, the APUO advocated for changes to the collective agreement that would allow us to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion among our membership. The lack of equitable and diverse representation within key leadership positions, such as Deans, presents a barrier to achieving this goal.

The University of Ottawa ranked 11th in terms of diverse representation among “Presidents’ leadership teams or cabinets.”[1] Two thirds (66.7%) of our President’s leadership team is made up of white men, while one third (33.3%) are white women. Once again, the complete absence of members of Indigenous Peoples and visible minorities is striking. 

The APUO must highlight the potential of introducing shared governance as an avenue to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion at the University of Ottawa. While APUO members supported a series of proposals to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion among professors and librarians in our latest round of collective bargaining, this progress is limited by the fact that these goals are not necessarily prioritised nor reflected in the make-up of key decision-makers at our institution. A shared governance model would allow APUO members to push our equity, diversity, and inclusion agenda beyond the bargaining table by having a greater influence in the appointment of our University’s leadership, more opportunities to raise equity, diversity, and inclusion issues, as well as a greater say in the decision-making processes affecting these issues. 

The APUO reasserts its support for the seven recommendations presented in the 2018 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee (EDIC) report and is prepared to cooperate with the Central Administration on their implementation. 

  1. Collect data and report on progress annually.
  2. Develop equity, diversity, and inclusion targets related to gender, race, disability, and indigeneity and make them public.
  3. Provide bias reducing training to hiring committees.
  4. Appoint trained APUO members to serve as Equity officers on all hiring committees. 
  5. Make funding available for professors to integrate equity content into course content.
  6. Put the University of Ottawa forward as a pilot institution for the “Dimensions Program” formerly known as the “Made in Canada Athena SWAN” (Scientific Women’s Academic Network). 
  7. Incorporate the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, and consult with Indigenous communities for all diversity and equity initiatives at the University.

[1]According to the report, Presidents’ leadership teams or cabinets “are constituted differently at various institutions but generally include all of the vice-presidents, principals, legal counsel, and the like.”

Anti-Black Profiling, Carding, and Harassment on Campus

The APUO Executive Committee is deeply disturbed and outraged by the incident of racial profiling, carding, and harassment of a Black student and the involvement of Protection Services on campus last week. We condemn the actions of the Protections Services members who harassed and handcuffed Jamal Koulmiye-Boyce in the strongest possible terms.
Please find a letter written by the APUO Black, Indigenous and People of colour (BIPOC) caucus about the incident here. The APUO BIPOC caucus is a closed space intended for APUO members who identify as BIPOC to come together, socialize, and share their experiences. For more information, please contact the APUO at
Members of our campus community are currently invited to sign on to the following letter. You have until the end of the day on Tuesday, June 18 to sign onto the letter.  
Please sign the letter here.

Public Sector Wage Increase Bill

On June 5, the Ford government introduced Bill 124, a bill that imposes a one percent cap on public sector wage increases for three years. The following is a summary of its implications for the APUO and its members. 

Salary, progress-through-the-ranks, and benefits

Bill 124 does not apply to collective agreements ratified before June 5, 2019. APUO members can expect the two percent wage increase negotiated and approved in our collective agreement last year. 

Our collective agreement expires on April 30, 2021. From that date, if passed, Bill 124 will have an impact on APUO members. Based on our interpretation of the bill and the information available, the one percent salary cap will apply to nominal salary and benefits. In other words, in our next round of collective bargaining, all monetary proposals adopted cannot exceed a one percent increase. 

We would like to point out that Bill 124 imposes a wage reduction on public sector workers. Indeed, a one percent increase is below the annual increases in the cost of living. The APUO finds it deplorable that the Ford government is attacking public service workers instead of delivering a solution to its revenue problem to balance the province’s finances. 

Gender pay gap

During the last round of collective bargaining, the APUO signed a letter of understanding with the Central Administration to create a joint committee tasked with investigating gender wage gaps and proposing possible solutions to rectify this injustice. As per our interpretation, we do not expect Bill 124 to be a barrier to ensuring the committee can fulfill its mandate.  

Although Bill 124 seems to have very few implications for APUO members in the short term, we will continue to monitor it closely. Bill 124 will not be adopted until the fall when the legislative session at Queen’s Park resumes. In the meantime, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and the APUO will fight Bill 124, and we encourage you to do the same as APUO members and as citizens 

Here is the press release from OCUFA, as well as a communication drafted by the OCUFA Executive Director analyzing Bill 124.

Additional information on the Ford government’s budget

Dear members,

This bulletin is a complement to our previous bulletin on the Ford government’s first budget. The Treasury Board has been engaged in a consultation with public sector employers and bargaining agents about achieving “reasonable public sector compensation growth.”

The government shared the following questions to frame the consultation:

  1. Elements of collective agreements could help or hinder our overall ability to achieve sustainable levels of compensation growth; and collective agreement provisions that work well in one sector may have unintended consequences in another. Are there aspects of the collective agreement(s) in your organization(s) that affect the ability to manage overall compensation costs?
  1. Potential opportunities to manage compensation growth could take different forms, for example, growth-sharing, as identified in the September 2018 line-by-line review of government spending. Are there any tools to manage compensation costs that you believe the government should consider?
  1. While no decision have been made yet, the government is considering legislated caps on allowable compensation increases that can be negotiated in collective bargaining or imposed in binding arbitration. We wish to engage with you in good faith consultations on this option and invite your feedback. What are your thoughts on this approach?
  1. Many different approaches to managing compensation growth and overseeing collective bargaining are in place in other jurisdictions, including other Canadian provinces. Are there any tools applied in other jurisdictions which you think would work in Ontario? If so, what is the proposal and how would it work? (Treasury Board Secretariat, April 4, 2019)

The APUO is very concerned about the bias contained in these questions and on the possible interference of the government in our collective bargaining process. Please find here the APUO’s written submission to the Treasury Board. Please see here the OCUFA’s full submission

We will continue to monitor the government’s actions on this matter, and we will keep you updated on any potential developments that may arise in the coming weeks.

Provincial Budget Update

Dear members,

On April 15, the APUO held its Annual General Meeting and presented its 2018-2019 Annual Report. For those of you who were unable to join us, you can find the full report here

Worldviews conference

OCUFA, along with other post-secondary education sector partners is hosting a Worldviews on Media and Higher Education 2019 Conference from June 12-14, 2019 at the University of Toronto. “The three-day conference will focus on democracy and the changing power relations of higher education and the media in the global north and south – specifically examining the concept of expertise in a “post-truth” world and the types of voices amplified by emerging technologies.” For more information please consult the following link

Provincial Budget

Post-secondary education sector funding

On April 11, the Ford government tabled its first budget. The budget included several significant changes that will affect the post-secondary education sector as a whole, and bargaining units on campuses across the province.

The most drastic change is the move to tie 60 percent of institutional funding to ten still vaguely defined performance metrics by the year 2024-25. The change in funding allocation will roll out in 2020-21, tying 25 percent of overall funding to performance, increasing by 10 percent annually for the following three years, and then by 5 percent to reach the 60 percent target for the 2024-25 academic year. 

While the specifics regarding the application of this new funding policy remain unknown, the government announced the following ten performance metrics:

  • Graduate earnings
  • Experiential learning
  • Skills and competencies
  • Graduation rate
  • Graduate employment
  • One related to a particular institutional strength or focus
  • Funding from industry
  • Funding for research
  • Two institution-specific measures:
    • one for economic impact;
    • and another for community impact 

Tying core funding to performance metrics overlooks the unique realities faced by each post-secondary institution in the province. In the case of the University of Ottawa, it does not consider the bilingual nature of our institution, its mandate to serve the Franco Ontarian community, or the fact that our French programs often compete with similar programs offered in Quebec for a third of the cost. Along with pitting colleges and universities against one another, the new funding formula could jeopardize the survival of specific programs, and favour certain disciplines and types of research over others.

While the government is framing performance funding as a “transparency and accountability measure” for the sector, the APUO is concerned that this new policy may become a pretext for future public funding clawbacks. Indeed, our funding is now tied to the political whims of the government of the day, and their own perspective on our University’s performance.

In light of this new and deeply concerning reality, we urge the Central Administration to use every tool at its disposal to avoid austerity budgets, should funding cuts arise in the coming years. One of these tools could be to tap into the $429,46 millions of cumulated surpluses over the last decade, or to adopt deficit budgets. Furthermore, we urge the Central Administration to engage in a meaningful consultation with campus labour and student unions about our members’ needs before renegotiating our funding agreement with the province next winter.

Aged-Based Discrimination

The APUO is very disappointed to note that the budget did not include a strategy for renewal, that is, a strategy to hire more full-time, tenure-stream professors and librarians. Rather than delivering a plan on renewal and tackling the rise of precarious labour on campuses across the province, the government has launched a distraction campaign targeting faculty, librarians and other college and university personnel over the age of 65. 

The Ford government is making the claim that the higher average retirement age is holding back the hiring of junior faculty, librarians, and personnel. Its response is in Bill 100 (the Budget bill). Section 18 (1) of Schedule 39 gives the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities the power to “make regulations governing the reduction, limitation and alteration of compensation due to an individual” who “has started to receive a pension under a pension plan” while being “employed or otherwise engaged by a post-secondary institution.” Moreover, Section 18 (2) states that a regulation may “(a) establish and govern procedures, rules and methods that a post-secondary institution shall use to reduce, including reducing to zero, limit or alter the amount, form or timing of compensation due to an individual referred to in subsection (1).”

The APUO views these measures as rooted in age-based discrimination and as an attack on gains made through collective bargaining. Persons over the age of 65 are valuable members of our academic community and deserve to be compensated for their work and service to the University community, even if they are collecting the pension for which they have invested a portion of their salary for the duration of their career. The APUO is working closely with the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) on this issue and will keep you informed. 

Right to collective bargaining and public sector compensation

The Treasury Board is currently engaging in a consultation with public sector employers and bargaining agents about achieving “reasonable public sector compensation growth.” This consultation is raising red flags for the APUO and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). We fear that the government may attempt to introduce centrally mandated bargaining for the public sector, including colleges and universities. This could imply that moving forward, collective agreements could only be negotiated within a framework established by the provincial government. As OCUFA notes in its budget analysis“any attempt by the Ford government to interfere in university collective agreements and bargaining practices would violate university autonomy and the constitutionally protected rights of faculty and staff.”


The budget also included the creation of an “expert panel,” which could be comprised of representatives from the “post-secondary, industry, innovation, venture capital and investment, banking and finance sectors, as well as from medical research and intellectual property legal expertise” to maximize “commercialization opportunities specifically in the post-secondary education sector.” This is a direct step towards the further privatization of academic research and it could have severe impacts on “less lucrative” but nonetheless invaluable research. 

In conclusion, the Ford government’s first budget, coupled with the government’s announcement in January, can only exacerbate the pressures felt by a sector that has been chronically under resourced for the last two decades. Political mobilization is essential to resist such pressures. The APUO and its partners are evaluating their options.

Winter 2019 Assessment of Senior Administrators

Dear members of the APUO,

In accordance with its Policy Statement on Assessment of Senior Administrators, in February 2019 the APUO asked members in the faculties of Education, Engineering, Law: Civil Law section and the Telfer School of Management to complete a survey to assess their Dean.

You can view a summary of the results of the four evaluations from the winter 2019 session. You may also view the details of the results for each Dean: 

As with the evaluation of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts performed during the last term, the deans of the Faculty of Law: Civil Law Section and the Telfer School of Management were evaluated for a second time. We are thus able to compare the results of their two assessments. 

Dean of the Faculty of Law: Civil Law Section

As you can see from the table below, Dean Lévesque’s results have remained relatively stable.

CategoriesWinter 2016 assessmentWinter 2019 assessmentDifference
Allocation of

In interpreting the arithmetic mean values, it should be noted that the items on the questionnaire have a range of 1 to 5: 1 represents extremely poor performance; 5 represents outstanding performance; any mean value below 3 indicates unsatisfactory performance; mean values from 3 to 4 indicate satisfactory performance; and mean values above 4 indicate more than satisfactory performance.

Dean of the Telfer School of Management

As you can see from the table below, Dean Julien’s results have slightly decreased. 

CategoriesWinter 2016 assessmentWinter 2019 assessmentDifference
Allocation of

In interpreting the arithmetic mean values, it should be noted that the items on the questionnaire have a range of 1 to 5: 1 represents extremely poor performance; 5 represents outstanding performance; any mean value below 3 indicates unsatisfactory performance; mean values from 3 to 4 indicate satisfactory performance; and mean values above 4 indicate more than satisfactory performance.

You can view the results of previous surveys here:

With kind regards,

The APUO Executive Committee

2018-2019 APUO Annual Report

Ratification of the Collective Agreement

On June 27, 2018, the APUO held a Special General Meeting at which members ratified a new Collective Agreement for the period starting on May 1, 2018, to April 30, 2021. Collective bargaining began in February 2018 and concluded after conciliation was filed by the Central Administration, following a mediation session with Arbitrator William Kaplan. Details regarding the new Collective Agreement are available on the APUO’s website: under the Collective Agreement section. 

As a result of collective bargaining, three ad-hoc joint committees were struck through letters of understanding with the Central Administration:

Academic Administrative Positions Working Group:
This joint working group will survey the departments and faculties to compile an inventory of roles and responsibilities related to academic administrative positions, such as vice-deans, chairs, and program directors, and gather data related to compensation (e.g., remuneration and course releases). The APUO and the Central Administration have mandated this committee to produce a report for the consideration of both parties. The APUO hopes to use this report in the next round of collective bargaining to help inform our positions on workload. 

Gender Salary Differentials Committee:
The mandate of the Committee is to identify existing gender-based pay differentials, and to recommend appropriate salary and other adjustments to correct these.

Teaching Personnel Equity Committee:
The mandate of the Committee is to investigate potential constitutional, bylaw, and procedural changes to the Teaching Personnel Committees (DTPC, FTPC, LPC and TPCI) in order to work towards ensuring proportional inclusion of equity-seeking group members and/or members with demonstrated expertise on the principles of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion on such committees. 

Student Surveys and Teaching Dossiers

On June 28, 2018, William Kaplan, the Arbitrator appointed to resolve the issue of Faculty Course Surveys and related matters, including the use of student evaluations of teaching (SETs) for promotion and/or tenure decisions, between the Ryerson Faculty Association and the Ryerson University, rendered a decision which highlights equity concerns among other limitations, when institutions rely on SETs to evaluate teaching.

At the University of Ottawa, the use of A-Reports (based on student surveys) is one of several elements considered in the promotion and tenure process. While the overall procedure to evaluate teaching at Ryerson University and our institution differ in many ways, the Kaplan ruling presents valid criticism and exposes limitations of some aspects of our current practice.

The Senate Committee on Teaching and Teaching Evaluations is currently looking into possible changes to the way teaching is evaluated at our institution and is considering the introduction of Teaching Dossiers. While Teaching Dossiers offer a more well-rounded review of faculty teaching, the APUO has not taken an official position on this matter due to the lack of detailed information provided by the Committee, including its potential impacts on the workload of members.  

As stated in Article 24 (Evaluation of Teaching) of the Collective Agreement, the APUO “shall be consulted at least three months before any proposed changes are submitted to the Senate for approval.” It is understood under this article that prior consent of the APUO is required to alter or remove from the A-Reports any of the items listed, that is, any element considered in the evaluation of the teaching of professors. Provisions on the APUO’s veto regarding changes to A-Reports in our Collective Agreement are strengthened by an arbitration that resulted in a positive outcome for the APUO.   

The APUO will inform members of any changes proposed by the Senate Committee on Teaching and Teaching Evaluations. In the interim, a letter of understanding between the Central Administration and the APUO mandates the parties to meet in May of each academic year for the next three years to review and discuss issues arising from the use of student survey data in career recommendations and decisions. 

113 members in the Faculty of Arts grieve Dean for changes to the credit allocation system

Dean Kee implemented a new practice of allocating reduced workload credits to regular faculty members who are teaching graduate courses with low enrollments. The practice awarded 0.5 credit per student in a required course with fewer than four students, and 0.5 credit per student in an optional course with fewer than five students. In addition, Dean Kee eliminated any credit allocation for directed studies of graduate students, which can be detrimental to the quality of programs across a number of departments. 

One hundred and thirteen members across all departments and schools within the Faculty of Arts signed on to the grievance. This was the largest group grievance in the APUO’s history. On April 3, a confidential settlement was reached between the APUO, its grievors, the Dean, and the Central Administration. If you have any questions regarding the settlement, please contact Brianne Carlson, Grievance Officer at

Lobby Meetings

Provincial Liberal Caucus

Members of the APUO Executive Committee met with Liberal Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP), Marie-France Lalonde and Nathalie DesRosiers, to discuss the need for a faculty renewal strategy and increased funding to colleges and universities in the province.

Provincial New Democratic Caucus

Following the Ford government’s announcement of a 10% tuition fee reduction, changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), and the introduction of voluntary student unionism, Chris Glover, NDP Critic for postsecondary education launched a provincial tour to meet with students, labour unions and Central Administrations, to hear their concerns regarding these changes. In February, Chris Glover met with the APUO, accompanied by Ottawa Centre MPP, Joel Harden. The APUO expressed its concerns with the proposed changes and underscored the need for greater public funding to our post-secondary institutions.

Members of the Progressive Conservative party of Ontario, including Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training Colleges and Universities, and MPP for Kanata-Carleton, have thus far declined all invitations to meet with faculty associations and OCUFA. 


Since 2017, APUO members have ramped up their mobilization efforts around the issue of workload. In the fall of 2017, nine professors spearheaded a letter campaign highlighting a growing concern around our increasing workload. Three hundred fifty-eight members signed the letter.

In the winter of 2018, the APUO and the Support Staff Union (SSUO) co-signed a letter echoing the concerns raised by the 358 members, and demanding the following:

1. putting an end to the hiring freeze of support staff;

2. that the Central Administration fill vacant support staff positions;

3. that Concur be optional for Professional Expense Reimbursements (PER) and other claims;

4. that the inputting of grades via uOzone be optional across all faculties. 

In March 2019, Vice-President Academic and Provost David Graham responded to the joint APUO-PSUO letter sent in the winter of 2018. In his letter, he acknowledges the challenges posed by Concur. 

“What is certainly clear, however, is that the way in which several of our administrative systems have been implemented has been wholly unsatisfactory from the standpoint of users. Concur is, of course, an excellent example of this: implemented in a variety of differentways from one unit to another, very often – as I understand it – tweaked in order to replicate previous paper-based systems, it is difficult to navigate and far more consuming of valuable staff and faculty time than it should be.”

– David Graham, VP Academic and Provost

In his letter, David Graham goes on to mention that the Associate Vice-President Financial Resources, Marie-Claude Fillion has presented a proposal that will overhaul the Concur implementation, and that could remedy some of the issues APUO members have been experiencing with the platform. The APUO will meet with Marie-Claude Fillion at the end of April. 

Strategic Thinking and Action Forum

Following a successful and well attended Strategic Thinking and Action Forum (STAF) in April 2018 on the financial situation of the University of Ottawa, the APUO hosted two more STAFs.  

On November 6, the APUO hosted a STAF on the issue of the workload. The workload of APUO Members has significantly increased in recent years. This increase can be explained by, among other things, the growth in admissions, the multiplication of programs of study, the under-funding in the hiring of regular professors, librarians and support staff, the precariousness of teaching work, as well as the repeated practice of austerity budgets generating significant surpluses, subsequently accumulated or reinvested in administration (managerialization) and consultant fees (privatization), rather than in fulfilling the university mission. In this forum, we heard from members on the causes and effects of increases to workload, as well as means and strategies available to the APUO and its members to deal with the problem.

On March 6, as a follow-up to the November STAF on workload, the APUO held a STAF on university governance. For a growing number of academic staff unions in Canada, it is well established that increased participation of professors, students, and employees in university governance is essential to reverse the most deleterious trends in the quality of education and university life, whether it is the rise of precarious work, the increase in shadow work, the centralization of decisions, and excessive bureaucratization. Professor Christian Rouillard delivered a presentation on governance at the University of Ottawa and highlighted the lack of faculty and librarian representation throughout the decision-making structure at our institution. 

Listening Tour on the issue of workload

This winter, the APUO launched a Listening Tour of academic units to listen to members discuss the challenges related to our growing workload, and identify potential solutions that the APUO could table in the next round of collective bargaining. A common issue raised in every unit is shadow work (administrative tasks previously taken on by support staff), a problem compounded by the new digital platforms and growing bureaucratization. Other common concerns include arbitrary credit allocations by Deans, and the need for more teaching assistants and regular professors to respond to the needs of our student population. The APUO will publish a full report on the issue of workload in the fall of 2019.

Members who wish to invite the APUO to their unit Assembly in order to discuss the issue of workload can do so by emailing The APUO has attended, or has confirmed its attendance at eighteen assemblies so far. 

Coalition and Solidarity Work

At a time when the Doug Ford government is imposing cuts to our public services, and attacking student and workers’ rights, the APUO has strengthened its ties to other labour unions and community organizing initiatives. 

Association of Part-Time Professors collective bargaining 

In January, the Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO) held a strike vote as they were heading into conciliation with the Central Administration. The APUO sent a letter to President Jacques Frémont in support of the APTPUO and their demands for an end to the practice of unpaid labour, for the introduction of pay equity and fair wage hikes, job security, and academic inclusion. The APTPUO and the Central Administration successfully concluded an agreement at the eleventh hour, avoiding a strike and leading to the ratification of a new collective agreement by APTPUO members. 

Campus-wide inter-union Town Hall 

On March 22, the APUO, the APTPUO, the Support Staff Union of the University of Ottawa (SSUO), the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2626 (CUPE 2626), the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), and the Graduate Student Association des étudiant.e.s diplômé.e.s (GSAED) hosted a campus-wide town hall to discuss Doug Ford’s announced changes to the post-secondary education sector. These changes include: 

  • A new tuition fee framework which includes a 10% tuition fee reduction for domestic students for 2019-2020 and a tuition freeze for 2020-2021.
  • Reforms to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and the elimination of the free tuition grant.
  • The introduction of voluntary student unionism.

Students, faculty, librarians, and other University personnel were present to ask questions and express their concerns regarding these significant changes.

Ottawa post-secondary education sector coalition

Since January 2019, a coalition of labour and student unions from all colleges and universities in Ottawa have been meeting to discuss key issues on their campuses, and to discuss collective actions in response to the Doug Ford agenda. The coalition shared the petition launched by the Canadian Federation of Students, calling on the Ford government to reverse its changes to OSAP and the planned introduction of voluntary student unionism in September 2019. The coalition also prepared a response to the provincial budget tabled on April 11 and is supporting local actions to protect our public sector, with an emphasis on demanding more funding for a high quality publicly funded system of post-secondary education. 

Fight for $15 and Fairness

Fight for $15 and Fairness is a community-based grassroots organization advocating for a $15 minimum wage and for improved working conditions that include equal pay for equal work, rules that protect workers, and the right to organize and unionize in Ontario. 

The APUO has been attending their regular meetings to support their mobilization efforts in the community. The APUO also bottom-lined, in conjunction with Fight for $15 and Fairness, the November 2 rally at Merilee Fullerton’s (Minister of Training Colleges and Universities) constituency office in response to the Ford government’s Bill 47.

Changes introduced in Bill 47 include the repeal of equal pay for equal work for casual, part-time and temporary worker employee classifications, and curtails existing protections against sex-based pay discrimination.

Canadian Association of University Teachers 

The APUO is an active member of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), a national advocacy group defending academic freedom, shared governance, fair employment and fair copyright alongside its 72,000 members. 

In October 2018, the APUO sent four members to the CAUT Aboriginal Scholars Conference. These four members reported back to discuss the role that the APUO could play in supporting efforts to Indigenize academia at the University of Ottawa. 

In January 2019, the CAUT offered a Membership Mobilization workshop. President Susan Spronk, Mobilisation Agent Daniel Paré, and the Communications and Research Officer Anne-Marie Roy participated in the workshop.  

Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations

The APUO is an active member of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). OCUFA is the voice of 17,000 university faculty and academic librarians across Ontario. Their mandate is to maintain and enhance the quality of Ontario’s post-secondary education system, and to advance the professional and economic interests of its members. 

Equity Caucuses

In an effort to identify different issues faced by APUO members, the APUO organized two Equity Caucuses. These caucuses took place in March 2019, the first caucus was for APUO members who are black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC), and the second for members who identify as Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (2SLGBTQ). These two caucuses were successful and very promising. The APUO is hosting a third caucus on April 17 on Mental Health, and will soon organize a fourth caucus for members with disability. 

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDIC) is a joint consultative committee of the APUO and the Central Administration, with the mandate to provide recommendations to both parties regarding measures and procedures that support efforts of achieving employment equity, diversity, and inclusion.   

A barrier faced by the EDIC has been the fact that the Central Administration does not routinely collect data on equity and diversity. The little data collected is not shared with the EDIC for analysis. This lack of transparency poses challenges for the EDIC to understand the scope of existing gaps in equitable representation at our institution, and prevents it from setting targets to redress these.

The Committee recommends the following priorities for the University and APUO to consider:

1.  Collect data and report on progress annually.

2.  Develop equity, diversity and inclusion targets related to gender, race, disability, and indigeneity and make them public.

3.  Provide bias reducing training to hiring committees.

4.  Appoint trained APUO members to serve as Equity officers on all hiring

5.  Make funding available for professors to integrate equity content into course content.

6.  Put the University of Ottawa forward as a pilot institution for the “Made in Canada Athena SWAN” (Scientific Women’s Academic Network). 

7.  Incorporate the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, and consult with Indigenous communities for all diversity and equity initiatives at the University.

The EDIC has tabled its report to the President of the University and the President of the APUO in January 2019. The Executive has offered to meet with the President of the University and the members of the committee to discuss the recommendations in the report.

Internal Affairs

APUO Human Resources

Administrative Assistant: 

Manon Charette worked as the APUO Administrative Assistant for 20 years until her retirement in January 2019. We wish her a very happy retirement. Lydia Gableman filled her position. We welcome her in our team.


Due to the growing number of mediation and arbitration, a new paralegal position was created to support the work of our Legal Counsel. Thalassia Newey was hired for this new position. We welcome her in our team.

Liaison Officer:

Paul-Eugène Parent, a Full Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was appointed last year to be the APUO Liaison Officer. In April 2019, the Board of Directors renewed his term for a second year. We thank him for accepting to serve a second year. 

Updates to the Constitution and Bylaws 

In June 2018, the Executive Committee of the APUO struck an ad hoc committee to examine the Constitution and Bylaws and propose updates. Part of this exercise was to ensure that the APUO’s governing documents were in full compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility of Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). 

Here is a summary of Constitutional and Bylaw amendments related to accessibility:

–  The APUO updated its Policy on Accessibility Standards for Customer Service to include a statement shared by the APUO when planning events. This statement invites members to request accommodations necessary for their full participation in APUO events by contacting the APUO office no later than three working days before an event.  

– The language in Section 6.VII. of the Policy on Accessibility Standards for Customer Service was updated to include modern means of communications to advise members of temporary disruptions to the office or the wheelchair lift. 

– Members may now vote by postal ballot for members of the Executive Committee, provided there is a 7-working day notice, and that there is an
accommodation-related reason that the member cannot personally attend the General Meeting in question. 

–  Members may now vote by proxy in General Meetings, provided there is a 7-working day notice, and a documented accommodation-related reason that the member cannot personally attend the General Meeting in question. 

The modifications to the Constitution and Bylaws were recommended by the Executive to the Board of Directors, and need to be approved by the General Assembly.