Ontario College Faculty Strike: A BC Perspective

On October 16, college faculty across Ontario went on strike due to their employers’ refusal to continue with negotiations around pressing issues educators are facing: unequal pay and precarious employment, lack of academic freedom, and the absence of faculty in post-secondary governance structures. These issues are not only harmful for educators but also to the post-secondary system overall.

Here in BC, we are proud that over many years we have made gains on these issues through collective bargaining and legislative change. However, that does not make us immune from the challenges our Ontario colleagues are experiencing.

The part-time to full-time educator ratio is roughly reversed in BC compared to Ontario (70% full time to 30% part time in BC vs. 30% full time to 70% part time in Ontario)Holding faculty in lower-wage and highly precarious contracts is not only wrong, it poses risks for the post-secondary system as a whole. How will we continue to attract and hire the next generation of educators if they are not sure they will be able to feed their families with teaching as their profession? We need to answer this question by insisting that faculty be paid equally for equal work.

In BC, academic freedom is enshrined in collective agreements, giving faculty the freedom to speak out on the issues that are important to them without fear of losing their jobs. It also means that faculty are involved in course development and can give feedback about how to make courses better for students. FPSE, FPSE member faculty associations, and other unions continue to work to protect this value for all faculty.

Post-secondary governance structures have evolved differently in BC and Ontario, and through collective bargaining and legislative change, BC faculty have more representation on post-secondary institution governance bodies, boards, education councils and Senates. BC still has room for improvement, but faculty are involved in some level. Unfortunately in Ontario, faculty are not included at the governance table, and therefore have limited ability to try to help fix the problems they identify.

For all of these reasons, FPSE is proud to support the issues faculty are raising in Ontario, and wish them success in reaching a successful agreement with their employers.