Table of Contents
- APTPUO Collective Bargaining: Potential Work Stoppage
- uOttawa 2022-2023 Budget
- Third APUO Pandemic Stress Survey, Winter 2022
- A Message from Your Board of Governors Representative
1) APTPUO Collective Bargaining: Potential Work Stoppage on the Horizon
Earlier in May, the Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO) entered into a new round of collective bargaining. Regrettably, the Employer filed for conciliation after only three meetings at which they demanded major concessions from APTPUO members.
The Employer’s refusal to entertain good faith meaningful negotiations and their rush to file for conciliation forced the APTPUO to bring a strike vote to their members in late June and to launch a bad faith bargaining complaint with the Ontario Labour Board. More than 600 APTPUO members participated in the strike vote. They gave the union an 87.5% mandate in favour of moving into a strike action should negotiations fail.
On July 14th and 15th, the APTPUO and the Employer participated in conciliation meetings at which the APTPUO put forward a bargaining protocol aimed at continuing negotiations and avoiding a labour dispute. The Employer rejected the proposal and asked the conciliator to file a no-board notice.
The APTPUO and its members want to avoid a work stoppage. However, they are ready and prepared to take action given the Employer’s ongoing refusal to bargain in good faith.
The APUO stands in solidarity with our APTPUO colleagues and calls on the Employer to return to the table and to bargain in good faith.
2) uOttawa 2022-2023 Budget
On May 30, 2022, the uOttawa Board of Governors approved the 2022-2023 budget and published the 2022-2023 Budget Book. This 43-page document makes for interesting reading, shedding light on, among other things, where the Central Administration’s priorities lie.
The 2022-2023 budget shows a “balanced budget” of $1.045 billion. There are important elements of this balancing that merit closer scrutiny. We offer a brief synopsis below.
Cuts to faculties and services: In order to create a balanced budget for 2022-2023, the Central Administration has implemented a new round of cuts to faculties and services that further tighten the considerable austerity measures with which members of the university community have had to contend throughout the past seven years:
- 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.”
- In May 2016, the Central Administration implemented more structural cost-cutting measures that involved “a permanent 2% decrease in the base budgets of faculties and services.”
- In October 2016, the Central Administration detailed past measures that included the “suspension of renovation projects and contributions from faculties and services of 10% of their accumulated surplus.”
- In December 2016, the Central Administration implemented 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.”
- In May 2017, the Central Administration implemented cost-cutting measures with the aim of reducing expenditures by $22M.
- In September 2019, the Central Administration acknowledged that the $91.8M surplus was in part attributable to “delays in hiring.”
- In the 2020-2021 preliminary budget presented to the Board of Governors, the Central Administration highlighted that, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university had to take “various steps in the interim to mitigate financial risk, such as increasing revenues, implementing hiring freezes for non-academic positions, mass salary and other expense reductions (pre-COVID-19).”
This year, the Central Administration is asking faculties and services to reduce their non-academic and other spending by 3.5% (p. 13). Noticeably absent from the Budget Book is any mention of the total amount of savings these cuts will generate.
Hiring of professors: The Budget Book specifies that, “Unlike in 2021–2022, no new regular professors will be hired to offset attrition,” (p. 13). When the APUO contacted the Employer about this statement we were informed that it meant “the University will not hire faculty beyond replacing those who retire or for other reasons” (translated by APUO) and that they intend “to respect the terms of the (Complement) letter of agreement recently signed at bargaining” (translated by APUO) which specifies that:
The parties agree that for the duration of the collective agreement beginning on May 1 2021, the complement of faculty appointments shall not be fewer than:
Starting May 1, 2021: 1325
Starting May 1, 2022: 1330
Starting May 1, 2023: 1335
The APUO notes that the statement on page 13 does not reflect the intentions expressed in the Central Administration’s response to our subsequent follow-up. Indeed, the two statements stand in stark contradiction with one another.
Accounting standards: The 2022-2023 budget was created using the modified cash basis account standard. This standard differs from the Canadian accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations (ASNPO) which the Central Administration has an obligation to use for their financial statements.
When reconciled using the Canadian accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations, the 2022-2023 budget shows an expected surplus of just under $13.7 million dollars (see p. 21-23).
The Operating Fund is the fund involved in achieving “the University’s objectives of teaching, research, and community service” (p. 15). Contrary to the consolidated budget, the 2022-2023 Operating Fund actually shows a $14.4 million surplus prior to interfund transfers.
In the 2022-2023 consolidated budget, Central Administration has chosen to transfer more than $43 million from their operating fund to other funds, with the majority – some $31.6 million – going to the Capital Fund (of which $25 million is being transferred directly to the Facilities Renewal Improvement Program). The major impact of these interfund transfers on the Operating Fund is to substitute the $14.4 million dollar surplus with an almost $29 million deficit.
Capital Fund transfers: Four years ago, the Central Administration was transferring $15 million per year from the operating account to the Capital Fund. Two years ago, the amount was increased to $20 million per year (p. 11). The Central Administration is now choosing, during what they describe as a very difficult period filled with uncertainties and challenges, to increase the transfer to $25 million, thereby creating ever more pressure on the Operating Fund.
This state of affairs calls into question whether the 3.5% budget cuts to the faculties and services is a direct consequence of the increase in the amount transferred to the Capital Fund. The APUO maintains that in the light of the challenges and uncertainties cited by the Central Administration, a more beneficial and fruitful approach would be to temporarily reduce the amount transferred in order to prioritize the University’s core teaching/research pillars.
The Bottom Line
The 2022-2023 budget exposes a pattern wherein the Central Administration transfers funds out of the operations budget while consistently underestimating surpluses at the expense of our working conditions and students’ learning conditions on campus. The APUO is deeply disappointed and most concerned to see the Central Administration continuing its practice of implementing cuts to operations to supposedly balance the budget, and still ending up with financial statements reporting large surpluses. This approach to budgeting is especially troubling in the face of the ongoing uncertainties and disruptions caused by the pandemic and is yet another example of the centralized, undemocratic governance at the University of Ottawa.
In the face of chronic underfunding to post-secondary education at the provincial level, the University of Ottawa needs to break its pattern of budgetary deficit creation and reorient existing funds to improving on-campus working and learning conditions.
3) Third APUO Pandemic Stress Survey, Winter 2022
Forty-five percent of members participated in our March 2022 survey, providing us with important updates about the challenges with which members are having to contend as the pandemic continues.
The results of this latest survey point to notable concerns about the disproportionate ways in which the pandemic has, and continues to affect members of visible minorities, members with disabilities, members who are women and members with children and/or dependants.
A report of March survey findings is available at the following link.
4) A Message from Your BoG Representative
Members will recall that the uOttawa’s Office of the Secretary-General held an election for a vacant seat on the Board of Governors (BoG) in June.
Donatille Mujawamariya was elected to this seat and has the following message to share with members:
I would like to thank you for your confidence in voting for me at the BOG.
I would like to represent you honourably by protecting your rights and defending your interests.
To do this, I need your voice. Could you please share with me your priorities in terms of academic, financial, diversity, mental health, physical mobility, green spaces, protection and security to be brought to the BOG for the well-being of our university community.
I have no voice without yours. You can contact me either face to face on campus, by appointment, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing your voice through your priorities for the BOG.
Thank you again for your time,
 May 26, 2015 email from the Vice-President, Resources
 October 11, 2016 email from the Vice-President, Resources