Toronto Bob Raes recommendation to spend $600 million over three years on facility renewal is good news for workers and students on Ontarios crumbling university campuses, but his report leaves the door open for increasing privatization and labour unrest, said the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
Our union has consistently raised the issue of deferred maintenance and deteriorating conditions on campus, so we welcome Raes recognition of a $1.8 billion problem, said Janice Folk-Dawson, chair of the CUPE Ontario university workers coordinating committee and president of Local 1334, University of Guelph. However, his report says nothing about ensuring that government will not simply pay the high costs that institutions incur by borrowing from private lenders. Government should be making the loans.
Rae gives with one hand and takes away with the other, Folk-Dawson said, especially when it comes to his recommendation that the freeze on tuition fees be lifted in about another year.
If the government chooses to follow this course of action and academic workers such as teaching assistants do not have protection from tuition increases, there will be significant labour unrest across Ontarios universities, she said.
CUPE, which has more than 20,000 members in 16 Ontario universities, is also concerned about the new councils recommended by Rae.
We will be following the implementation of these recommendations closely to ensure that the councils are democratic and representative of the postsecondary system and not simply agents for privatization, Folk-Dawson said.
Un-ranking Ontarios universities: Final report from the CUPE Campus Check-Up is available at cupe.on.ca.
For more information, please contact:
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, 416-299-9739 ext 264