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Nipissing University Faculty Association calls for Resignations of Ross Romano, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Robert Haché, President of Laurentian University

April 16, 2021 – North Bay, Ontario 

Today, the Nipissing University Faculty Association (NUFA) echoed the calls of the York University Faculty Association (YUFA) and other bodies, for the immediate resignations of Ross Romano, Minister of Training Colleges and Universities and Robert Haché, President of Laurentian University along with his senior leadership team.  These motions were taken due to “the loss of confidence in the Minister’s commitment to the university sector, as well as LU President Robert Haché and his senior leadership team in failing to lead the university through this crisis, and the catastrophic mishandling of the situation at LU.”

Please see the two motions approved by the NUFA Executive below.

MOTION 1: That the NUFA Executive calls for the immediate resignation of Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano

RATIONALE: Minister Romano was made aware of the financial situation at Laurentian more than six months prior to the announcement of the CCAA process.  Not only did he fail to act to protect the students and institutions under his charge, which have now suffered serious harm; he also has consistently refused to meet with the affected parties and to be transparent about the intentions and actions of his government.  The cuts to Laurentian, now revealed, have produced outrage across the country.  His inaction has also resulted in considerable harm specifically to the residents of Northern Ontario, whose interests he is charged, as MPP, to represent.  He has failed in the most basic of ways to satisfy the obligations of his office, and must resign immediately.

MOTION 2: That the NUFA Executive calls for the immediate resignation of President of Laurentian University, President Robert Haché and his senior leadership team.

RATIONALE:

Beginning with the stalled negotiations with the Laurentian Faculty Association (LUFA), President Haché has acted in an irresponsible, untransparent, and uncollegial manner.  Indeed, LUFA was forced to pursue a bad faith bargaining complaint in an effort to force the administration to disclose the very financial information they were apparently already sharing with the government but refused to discuss with affected faculty and students.  President Haché’s decision to enter the University into the CCAA process, rather than make use of the financial exigency clauses of the negotiated Collective Agreement, was unprecedented and completely inappropriate, an effort simply to shirk his responsibilities in collective bargaining and collegial governance.  Finally, his public threats to shut down the university entirely should faculty senators or LUFA members fail to agree to the results of the secretive CCAA process demonstrates a callous disregard for the interests of the students of Laurentian and its affiliated campuses, as well as for the broader Sudbury and Northern communities that haven been and will be impacted.  He has forfeited the trust required in order to occupy the position of President, or any leadership role, and must resign immediately along with his senior leadership team.

Nipissing University Senate passes Motion in support of Laurentian University Senate

At the April 9, 2021 Nipissing University Senate meeting, the following motion was passed unanimously:

Whereas a first principle for university quality and integrity is expressed in the bicameral governance structure shared between the Board of Governors and the Academic Senate, a process clearly identified in the Nipissing University Act and Laurentian University Act; and

Whereas Senators have a right and responsibility to generate and evaluate decisions, including such decisions as program restructuring or cancellation, affecting the academic integrity of the university openly and democratically within this governance structure,

Be it resolved that Nipissing University Senate affirm its own support for the Senate of Laurentian University’s avowal of its power and responsibility to pronounce on the academic integrity of the proposals that come before it, and

Be it further resolved that the Nipissing University Senate express strong concern with the  Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act process at Laurentian that has effectively by-passed transparency and academic decision-making.

NUFA Responds to CCAA Process at Laurentian University

 

North Bay, ON, March 23, 2021 – The Nipissing University Faculty Association echoes the call of the North Bay District Labour Council, published online in the Nugget/Bay Today/My North Bay Now on March 17th, for the province to end the CCAA process at Laurentian University and to provide adequate and sustained funding to ensure the continued viability of this important institution. On March 19th, the Ontario government announced $106.5 million in emergency funding for post-secondary institutions suffering financial effects of COVID 19, but have allocated none of this funding to Laurentian University.  This decision is troubling for reasons that extend well beyond the particulars of the situation at Laurentian.

First, the government’s decision to permit Laurentian to enter the CCAA process is unprecedented in Canada.  This process was designed for private corporations, and the precedent set by allowing a public institution, funded by the Province, to declare insolvency and enter the CCAA could not be more troubling: if a public university can be dismantled by a secretive, closed-door process intended for private businesses, then why not any other public institution?  A Crown corporation, perhaps?  Or a hospital?  The province needs to act immediately to stop the inappropriate and radical misuse of the CCAA process at Laurentian.

Second, there should be little doubt in anyone’s mind that what is happening at Laurentian would not be permitted to happen in vote-rich Southern Ontario.  The threat to Laurentian – and the underfunding of Northern Universities, generally – is part of a familiar story in the North, where unequal access to healthcare, under-funded education systems, and inadequate transportation networks are all well-known and long-standing problems.  As a member of the opposition, MPP Fedeli spoke up for Nipissing University when the Liberal government of the day unilaterally imposed changes to Education programs that disproportionately affected us.  Now he sits as a cabinet minister in a government that has dramatically cut support to the University system as a whole.  These cuts have a disproportionate effect on smaller, Northern Universities.  Emergency handouts, while desperately needed, do not fix the underlying problem that Ontario funds its universities at the lowest rate in the entire country. He and the government of which he is a part needs to stand up for all Northern Communities, including Laurentian and Sudbury.

Finally, it is worth noting that, just as Nipissing University contributes just shy of $140 million each year to the economy of North Bay, and is one of the top three employers in the city, Laurentian makes an enormously important economic contribution to its community.  As Minister for Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade, MPP Fedeli should know perfectly well that anything that diminishes Laurentian as an institution will be deeply harmful to the economy of Sudbury and to its people.  It is time for MPP Fedeli and the Ford government to act, now, before the April 30th deadline imposed by the CCAA.

Black History Month February 2021

February is Black History Month.  We’d like to encourage you to learn more about Black history and celebrate the events and contributions that Black people have made to all sectors of society.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing events and information with you regarding Black history.  The first is an event being sponsored by the North Bay Multicultural Centre on Wednesday, February 3rd at 6:30 pm “Black Canadians:  Contributions and Historical Figures”.  This is a virtual round table with panelists including Dr. Amadou Ba, who gave the first NUFA Virtual Teach-in this past fall, and a visit with the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

We’ve put together a list of recommended readings from the Harris Learning Library, the North Bay Public Library, links to the Ottawa and Toronto Public Libraries, and also some children’s books.

Books recommended by (and available at) the North Bay Public Library:

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

Books recommended by (and available at) the Harris Learning Library [call number in brackets]:

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robin Maynard [FC106 .B6 M39 2017]

The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness by Paul Gilroy [CB235 .G55 1993]

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo [E184 .A1 O454 2018]

Working for Freedom: The Story of Josiah Henson by Rona Arato [E444 .H526 A73 2008]

African Canadians in Union Blue: Volunteering for the Cause in the Civil War by Richard M. Reid [E540 .C25 R45 2014b]

North of the Color Line: Migration and Black Resistance in Canada, 1870 – 1955 by Sarah-Jane Mathieu [FC106 .B6 M318 2010]

Black Canadians: History, Experiences, Social Conditions by Joseph Mensah [FC106 .B6 M45 2010]

Viola Desmond’s Canada: A History of Black and Racial Segregation in the Promised Land by Graham Reynolds. Foreward by George Elliot Clarke with Wanda Robson [FC106 .B6 R49 2016]

Black Loyalists: Southern Settlers of Nova Scotia’s First Free Black Communities by Ruth Holmes Whitehead [FC2321.4 .W55 2013]

Race on Trial: Black Defendants in Ontario’s Criminal Courts, 1858-1958 by Barrington Walker [KEO1167.5 .W35 2010]

Recommendations from the Ottawa Public Library:

https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/blogs/black-history-month-canadian-black-history-making

Recommendations from the Toronto Public Library:

https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/books-video-music/books/booklists/booklist.jsp?listTitle=Black+History+Month&listId=1ZW_XAZpv-F4nJRk65CfrVBNrCUzsAQA2s_2PyGKyorI&sheetId=otixfw9

Children’s Books:

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has created a listing for educators and librarians:

http://bookcentre.ca/theme-guide-black-history-month

Scholastic Canada:
http://scholastic.ca/books/seasonal/blackhistory/

Howdy, I’m John Ware – Animated Children’s Book

https://youtu.be/thA9_wLZfmM

NUFA Virtual Teach-Ins – Based on Nationwide Scholar Strike

The NUFA Virtual Teach-ins  build on the virtual teach-ins from the nationwide Scholar Strike in September 2020, in support of Black Lives Matter.  Since then, we have expanded our teach-ins which have included:

Dr. Amadou Ba – “Africa before Colonization. Dr. Ba is a part-time Member in the History Department.  The recording may be found at:  https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1njEw8ox1-zjRRqe2qpOW_SuYakwwfO1M

Dr. Nancy Stevens – “Indigenous Children and Youth in the Child Welfare System – Understanding How We Got Here”  Dr. Stevens is a Member of the Indigenous Studies Department.  The recording may be found at:  https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1njEw8ox1-zjRRqe2qpOW_SuYakwwfO1M

Please stay tuned for future events.

Orange Shirt Day, September 30, 2020

The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind.  A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation.  A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected.  Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on.  On this day, organizers call upon humanity to listen with open ears to the stories of survivors and their families, and to remember those that didn’t make it.

Anti-Racism

Caucus of Racialized Persons (CRP) – Letter to Provost regarding Equity at Nipissing University, September 8, 2020

“Combatting anti-Black racism in the academy: A primer for faculty”.

The workshop is open to all Members and is being held on Thursday, September 24 at 10 am .  Register here.

“The workshop will be facilitated by Paige Galette who fights tirelessly for social justice – through Black liberation, the Queer movement, the Women’s movement and organized labour. You can read Paige’s most recent essay in Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada. The workshop will aim to give participants tools to combat anti-Black racism in their roles as faculty, in their associations, on campus, and beyond. Participants will be given time to reflect and ask questions throughout the session.”

 

Scholar Strike – Virtual Sit-In

On September 9 and 10, academics in Canada are planning to pause their regular teaching and administrative duties to participate in activities and actions to protest racism and police violence. In particular, scholars across Canadian universities are organizing a series of virtual teach-ins.

NUFA would like to host our own virtual teach-in on Thursday September 10th and we are looking for faculty who would like to draw from their teaching and research to participate as panelists or as moderator in a one-hour virtual event on the topics of racism, and police brutality and violence in our communities from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

If you would like to be a panelist or to moderate the event, please contact our Membership Engagement Officer, Natalya Brown ([email protected]) by noon on Monday, September 7th.

For more information on Scholar Strike Canada and their activities, please visit: https://scholarstrikecanada.ca/

NUFA In Solidarity – Black Lives Matter

To acknowledge the ongoing issues of systemic racism and inequality affecting all universities in Canada, including our own, NUFA is encouraging its members to attend one or both of the Black Lives Matter events taking place this Saturday in North Bay:

1. Black Lives Matter March: Saturday, June 6, 2020, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM (Memorial Gardens football field)
In support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in honour of the recent murders of George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and Ahmaud Arbery. This event will be held in North Bay and will be starting at the football field behind Memorial Gardens at 1pm, from there we will march our way to City Hall. At City Hall, we hope to set up a vigil to honour the lives of those who have passed, not just recently but over the past countless years of police brutality and racism.

We will continue to remind everyone and encourage everyone who wishes to participate to obey COVID-19 restrictions and remain six feet apart. Attendees are asked to bring masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc. to the rally with them. Should some show up without a mask, or some display concern about attending due to not having a mask, we will be giving out masks to those who need it (the people handing them out will have masks on and gloves, and we will set up a table for the masks to be put down on and picked up at so that the six feet regulation is still in place).

Please indicate if you are able to attend so we are able to properly supply masks for those who may need.
The organizers can be contacted at [email protected]ca or at [email protected]

2. Black Lives Matter Demonstration: Saturday, June 6, 2020, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM (Kiwanis band shelter)

This event is an information and community-building session. We will have Black speakers from the community, some scheduled (as well as time at the end for any non-scheduled speakers). If any Black NUFA members would like to say anything, they can reach out to the organizer, [email protected] to be added to the list. Or they can show up and speak at the non-scheduled speaker time. Anyone attending should note we will not have any non-Black speakers either scheduled or unscheduled.

The idea is to build community and show solidarity for Black members of our community, while reaching across the community to people who may not be involved yet in the movement. To this end we are also providing COVID-19 supplies such as hand sanitizer, masks, grocery gift cards for people to take home if they are in need.

Furthermore, following the example of our colleagues in OPSEU, NUFA will be making a contribution of $500 to the endowment fund being established at Nipissing University to provide educational opportunities for Black students. Any members interested in making a further contribution can contact the Advancement department to discuss options.

FAQs During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to change the normal trajectory of the academic year.  It will impact each of us differently and so it is important to assess and account for that impact in your annual or sabbatical reports.  Please keep NUFA apprised if you need to discuss terms with your Dean.

FAQs last updated Tuesday, March 23, 2021

COVID-19 Bulletin 1

1. Is the NUFA Office open?

No.  The NUFA Office will remain closed until provincial restrictions are lifted and the university reopens.  In the meantime, we may be reached at [email protected]

2. What can I do if I haven’t been able to spend my Professional Expenses Reimbursement (PER) and the carry-over period is over?

While professional expenses reimbursement funds for full-time faculty will be disbursed as usual, it will be subject to an additional 12 month carry-over period extending the carry-over currently outlined in the FASBU Collective Agreement from three years to four years.

3. Have Student Opinion Surveys been cancelled for all fall/winter and spring/summer courses?

Yes.  The SOS (see Appendix R of the FASBU CA) and Teaching and Learning Committees have been tasked with coming up with an alternative to SOS.  Any alternative will need to have JCAA and Senate approval before it can be used.

4.  When and how can we get access to offices?

The employer sent out an e-mail to the University Community on April 23rd through Nipissing University Communications, outlining steps that must be taken for access to the campus.  This will be reassessed after the May 12 government update.

5. I am currently on sabbatical and the inaccessibility to my office, the library and the university has compromised my research during this time.  What, if anything, can be done?

Faculty currently on sabbatical or who are scheduled to begin sabbatical on July 1, 2020 should contact their Dean immediately to discuss options regarding the completion of their sabbatical plans.

6. I am planning to apply for tenure and/or promotion this year.  The COVID-19 closure of the university has affected my teaching, service and research productivity.  How will this be viewed in my application and what is being done regarding tenure and promotion and its deadlines?

Members who are planning to apply for tenure and/or promotion should be discussing the impacts on their application with their respective Dean.   This is particularly important for  faculty who may not be applying for tenure soon, but are worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their application over the long-term.  Please be sure to outline the specific ways in which your file will be or has been compromised in terms of teaching, research and service, including identifying the shift in workload from time for research to time for teaching as a result of changing delivery mode.  As well, note lost or delayed opportunities to engage in or disseminate research, including the cancellation of conferences, lack of library resources, closed lab and fieldwork opportunities, and the disruption of collaborations.

7.  I am a part-time instructor who has been asked to change my on-campus course to an alternative delivery and online course.  Where can I get help?

Contact the Dean of Teaching and Learning, and the Dean of your faculty, for support in online delivery.  NUFA would ask you to please track the added workload involved in preparing an online course and contact us if you feel it significantly exceeds the workload of an in-the-classroom course.

8.  Are annual reports still due on June 30 from full-time Members?

Yes they are, and it will be especially important this year and in June 2021 to identify specifically and in detail the impacts of COVID-19 on your teaching, research and service for the year.  Keep track of projects, publications and presentations that have been delayed or opportunities lost due to the effects of COVID-related closures and cancellations.  As well, make sure to report the way in which your workload has shifted from the normal distribution between teaching, research and service.  We need to be clear that changing delivery mode constitutes a major increase in teaching preparation which will necessarily displace the work of research and/or service.  For faculty who may have primary care duties for children or elders at home, it is also important to note that your capacity for working from home is significantly affected by these duties, and that what often gets lost in that situation is sustained time for research.  make sure you do not suffer a career disadvantage because of your caretaking roles at home.

9.  When will we know how our courses will be run in the fall?

If only we knew the answer to that one!  The Provost, Deans, Registrar and Chairs/Directors are in ongoing conversations about this question and developing contingency plans based on different scenarios.  The best strategy for faculty is for departments/schools to be engaged in a similar process, so that faculty have maximum input into whatever changes might be put in place for the fall (also see #12 below).

10.  Can the employer tell us which platforms to use?

In the winter term, many of us moved our course material into different platforms, such as Zoom or YouTube because Blackboard simply could not accommodate the sudden surge in content and activity.  If delivery continues to be largely or partially online for the fall term, NUFA anticipates that Blackboard’s capacity will be enhanced and that faculty will have much more direct and timely support for their alternative delivery of content.  While there is nothing to preclude faculty from moving outside of Blackboard, there are compelling reasons to be careful about how, where and how often you might do that.  Blackboard is the best means of maintaining accessibility for students who have accommodations, and it is much more secure than many other platforms.  As well, NUFA strongly encourages all faculty to take the cyber security training module offered through the university.

11.  Can the employer make me teach online?

The answer is “it’s complicated”.  Our collective agreements have two provisions which cover this area – Academic Freedom and Rights and Responsibilities.  For full-time faculty, Article 18:  Rights and Responsibilities, affirms that the decision to move courses into online delivery lies with a faculty member’s department/school.  In the winter term 2019-2020, the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19, in which the Ontario government forced the sudden closure of the building, temporarily over-rode the collective agreement language and the collegial bi-cameral decision-making processes usually in place at the university.  As we contemplate the fall term of 2020-2021, we can make two assumptions:  1) that any specific directive from the government to the university will trump the specific language of the collective agreements, and 2) in the absence of any direct order, whatever circumstances might compel us to change our delivery modes need to be determined within the language of the collective agreements.  All that said, we imagine that we will all be balancing these things:  our best practices in teaching; some king of social gathering restrictions relating to COVID-19; the needs and desires of our students; the requirement to follow accommodations for both students and faculty; and our collegial decision-making processes.  Our recommendation to faculty is to begin consultations with your academic unit ASAP about delivery of courses in the fall and develop some contingency plans based on the notions that:  1) all our courses might be online; or 2) none will be; or, 3) the most likely scenario – course offerings will be altered in some way to accommodate social isolation or distancing.

12.  Will I be reimbursed for additional costs incurred by working from home?

For the remainder of the restricted access period, the employer will reimburse employees for any pre-approved office expense and internet connection assistance.  The equipment must be appropriate for the purpose of professional teaching, research or administrative activity.  The university will retain ownership of any supplies or equipment purchased.  For full-time faculty, please use your P-card for any purchases, and code expenses to object code 75640 in your cost centre.

13.  As a part-time Member who had to do additional work beyond my contract in the winter, due to COVID-19, will I be compensated for that additional work?

The employer has responded “no” to our requests that part-time members be compensated for additional work (late exams, assignments, INCs, etc.) related to COVID-19 completed beyond the dates of their contracts. The employer has also made clear that moving forward, contract faculty has the right to refuse this kind of additional work if it will mean that you will have to work beyond the dates of your contract. But if you agree to a student’s request to mark a late submission or exam that takes you beyond the dates of your contract, then there will be an expectation to do the work even though the contract has expired. In the future, we recommend that contract faculty forward all student requests for such extensions to their Dean to ensure that all student work can be graded. No contract faculty member should be expected to work for the university when they do not have an active contract. 

14.  As a part-time Member, will I be compensated for the additional work required to turn my onsite course into an online course?

The employer has responded “no” to our requests that part-time members receive a reasonable stipend for the additional work beyond their contracts and/or to obtain training to move their courses into alternative delivery. All training offered through the Teaching Hub is open to contract faculty, but participation is optional.

15.  Since we are working from home, are we able to obtain a signed Canada Revenue Agency T2200 form from the employer?

Since this answer was posted, NUFA has put out a Bulletin entitled COVID-19 Bulletin #3 – 2020 Taxes:  Working from Home Tax Deductions found at https://nufa.ca/news-and-events/nufa-news/

The answer to this question is a bit complicated.  From the CRA perspective, the use of the T2200 in the past was fairly restrictive.  It was used primarily under two conditions:   1) for those who met with clients regularly from home, and 2) for those whose principal place of employment was their home.  So, pre-pandemic, faculty would not have qualified, since most faculty meet with students on the campus which is the principal place of employment.  Since the pandemic, this has become a grey area and these rules don’t necessarily apply when we are all working from home.  Appreciating the situation, the CRA is set on clarifying the rules for all. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have been bombarded with questions on this issue from all sectors of employment, and they expect to be coming out with more information on the T2200 and who may qualify, prior to the start of the tax season.  Here’s a link to employment expenses found on the CRA website: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/about-your-tax-return/tax-return/completing-a-tax-return/deductions-credits-expenses/line-229-other-employment-expenses.html  Here’s a link to work space in the home expenses for salaried employees (found within the link to employment expenses above): https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/about-your-tax-return/tax-return/completing-a-tax-return/deductions-credits-expenses/line-229-other-employment-expenses/salaried-employees/work-space-home-expenses.html

16. Are there any considerations for Tenure and/or Promotion Applications while in the pandemic and for probationary tenure-track Members?

The Faculty Association has signed a Memorandum of Agreement regarding Tenure and Promotion which may be found at https://nufa.ca/collective-bargaining/memoranda-of-understanding/

17.  For faculty who have agreed to, or for those who are considering, teaching on the campus in the winter term, what added protocols or procedures are there in place to protect both the faculty and the students?

The employer has responded that Members should be discussing these matters with their departments.  As the departments submit their Phase 2 Limited Campus Access plans, (https://www.nipissingu.ca/departments/human-resources/return-to-campus) which include the faculty who will be teaching on-campus, the employer will be reviewing and approving the plans.  Once the plans are approved, health and safety personnel will reach out to those teaching on-campus to provide training sessions. Our understanding is that documentation is also forthcoming.  At a recent Townhall meeting, it was suggested some of the added protocols and procedures may include:  teaching in classrooms with two doors with one to enter and one to exit; separating desks to allow for social distancing; restricting class size.

18.  What happens to faculty and students on-campus if the campus shuts down again in the Winter term?  How quickly can the situation change?

As we know, the situation can change very quickly, as it did in March.  The COVID-19 level response framework would have to jump from green to red (three levels) in order for the number of people who can meet indoors to change, and at the red level, the entire city would be affected.  Keep in mind that even with the recent outbreak on campus, the level did not change.  Nonetheless, faculty who plan to teach on the campus were told at the recent Townhall to prepare their courses for online delivery, should another shutdown occur.   For details on the COVID-19 level response framework, please see:  https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-open#control