Provincial poll show demand for job security for university professors

OCUFA reveals Eastern Ontarians want “equal pay for equal work” for professors

The OCUFA held a press conference on Tuesday Mar. 27
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The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has released the results of their 2018 poll, which aimed to gauge Ontarians’ perspectives on the current state of precarious employment faced by many university professors in the province. 

OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in Ontario, all of whom work with 28 different provincial faculty associations, including the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA). 

The survey was conducted by Mission Research — an external research firm — from Jan. 22 to Feb. 4, and surveyed 2,001 people. Five-hundred of these respondents reside in Eastern Ontario, which includes Kingston. 

During a media event on Mar. 27 at the University Club, OCUFA and Mission Research presented the findings of the poll. Among a larger pool of statistics, it was revealed that 65 per cent of Eastern Ontarians want to see university professors who teach classes have job security and adequate benefits. Among high school students looking to go to university, this number was 71 per cent.

A majority also believe that while universities provide high quality education, there’s some cause for concern. However, most believe that professors can be trusted to address issues related to education quality.  

Eighty-six per cent of Eastern Ontarians were also shown to support equal pay and equal access to benefits for contract professors who teach the same courses as their full-time colleagues. 

At the media event, OCUFA President Gyllian Phillips said she believes that Ontario hasn’t invested enough resources into full time faculty. Ontario gets the least per-student funding in Canada, according to Phillips. 

“We’re advocating for increased funding to universities, funding that particularly invests in faculty renewal and fairness for contract faculty,” she said on Tuesday. “We want funding that invests in research and the high quality education that our students deserve and thrive on.” 

Kayll Lake, a Queen’s professor in the physics department and president of QUFA, stressed the importance of Queen’s role in the local community. She said the University “plays a vital role in our community and is ultimately the single major driver of the Kingston economy.” 

But Lake also said the University administration needs to do better to support their professors, who drive research and are a large part of why students are drawn to the school. 

Jordan Morelli, who also works in the physics department, described his time as a continuing adjunct professor at Queen’s, which is a contract faculty position. It took Morelli 15 years to get tenure. He said that while he loves his job, the years of precarious and unstable employment took their toll. 

“It is difficult knowing that every four months you might be unemployed. It makes it hard to plan your future, settle down, and start a family,” Morelli said.  

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