About Bargaining

We need you to sign in support of OCADFA’s bargaining campaign to Raise the Bar! at OCAD University. 

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This is a graphic of a black and white logo. There is a rectangular bar tilting off of the top word and the words read: Raise the Bar

The OCAD University Faculty Association (OCADFA) represents all faculty and academic staff at OCAD. Our collective agreement expired on June 30, 2023 and we’ve been attempting to negotiate a new agreement that would Raise the Bar! for our members, and our students. 

OCAD lags well behind other universities in terms of working conditions, benefits, and pay. And failing further behind. The percentage of FT permanent faculty at OCAD has fallen from 71% to 37% since we became a university 20 years ago, and class sizes have ballooned by 30% since the start of the pandemic. 

OCAD’s faculty, academic staff, and students deserve better.

Conceptual business illustration with the words collective bargaining

This page is your one-stop shop for all information concerning OCADFA’s efforts to negotiate a renewed Memorandum of Agreement with the OCAD University Administration.

Our Memorandum of Agreement expired on June 30, 2023. The provisions of the 2020-2023 Memorandum of Agreement remain in force until agreement is reached on a new Agreement, or until a new Agreement is awarded by an Arbitrator.

OCADFA served a “Notice to Bargain” to the Administration in November 2022, and met with representatives from the Administration in December 2022 to discuss bargaining parameters and logistics. We met on March 10, 2023 to share the pillars that comprise our bargaining mandate, and exchanged proposals with the Administration on May 26.

Please see below for regular progress updates (Bargaining Bulletins), backgrounders on what we’re bargaining for (Bargaining Mandate), and all other information you need to stay up-to-date with the ongoing negotiations and how you can support your Negotiations Committee.


The corporatization of Canadian universities and chronic underfunding of public services, including post-secondary education, has led us to a state of crisis in Canadian universities. Administration’s keep asking faculty to do more with less, and in response we’ve seen an unprecedented number of strikes at universities institutions across the country. We’re in a similar state of crisis at OCAD.

OCAD’s Administration constantly resorts to fear-mongering about their projected oncoming budgetary deficits, meanwhile the University has realized surpluses amount to $27.5 million since the start of the pandemic. The truth is the Administration is divesting from the University’s core mission of providing transformative post-secondary Art and Design education and instead pouring funds into money-losing vanity projects like OCAD U CO. They’ve found the funds to invest in administration, (20% growth over the last five years), but refuse to invest in the academic side of the University (only 6% growth over that same time span). As a result, the percentage of permanent faculty at OCAD has fallen from 71% to 37% since we became a university, and class sizes have ballooned by 30% over the last three years alone.

Bargaining 101

OCADFA represents all Faculty and Academic Staff at OCAD University. We represent our over 600 members through Negotiating a Memorandum of Agreement with the OCAD Administration, through grievances and complaint processes, and through sector advocacy and activism.

The Memorandum of Agreement is a collectively bargaining contract that establishes the working conditions that the Administration and OCADFA members have agree to. All individual appointments must adhere to the collective agreement. 

Our current Memorandum of Agreement expired on June 30, 2023, and we served notice to negotiate a renewed Agreement in November 2022.

Bargaining Bulletins

Please check our Bargaining Bulletins page for new updates, as well as our social media platforms where announcements and updates will be posted throughout the year.

Bargaining Mandate

Our bargaining mandate was established through extensive consultations with the OCADFA membership throughout 2022. Members provided input through regular membership meetings, targeted labour category consults and surveys, and a membership wide bargaining survey.

Your Negotiations Committee coalesced all this feedback into a Bargaining Mandate which was approved unanimously at our Annual General Meeting in November 2022.

This Bargaining Mandate is organized around the following seven pillars:

Fostering an Equitable and Fair Workplace

In our 2023 membership survey, 57% of respondents indicated their mental and/or physical health and well-being have been affected by experiences of inequity at OCAD, underscoring the need for a cultural shift and renewed commitment to equity within the University.

We have a track record of cluster hires at OCAD and made some important improvements towards equitable hiring practices in our last round of bargaining, but creating equitable institutions is more than simply about diversifying who gets hired. It requires transforming our structures to ensure faculty from historically marginalized groups stay and thrive at OCAD.

An ample amount of research has found racialized and Indigenous faculty, and faculty from other historically marginalized groups in Canadian universities take on a disproportionately high level of teaching, mentoring and service duties, and have disproportionately low rates of retention. We need the Administration to recognize this by putting more substance behind the consideration of the unique burden carried by faculty members from equity seeking groups in both the measurement and assignment of their workloads.

A more equitable and fairer workplace will improve student learning conditions as well. A lack of representation means students miss out on the particular knowledge and experiences that a more diverse faculty can bring to their teaching. A more culturally diverse faculty can also help develop programs and structures that are more responsive to and inclusive of students from historically marginalized groups.

Indigenous peoples are the most underrepresented group among faculty in Canada, compared with their proportion of the general population. Separate from Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives and processes, we’re calling the Administration to commit to Indigenizing the University and to engage in a conversation on how we can decolonize our labour relations practices and improve our Memorandum of Agreement to work better for Indigenous faculty and academic staff.

Proposals include:

  • Putting substance behind the recognition of the Unique Burden
  • Recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
  • Modernize our no-discrimination clause and ensure adequate training on accommodations
  • Place a Land Acknowledgement in our Memorandum of Agreement
  • A proposal to work collaboratively to Indigenize the University and our Memorandum of Agreement
  • Removing student evaluations from faculty annual reports
  • Providing adequate onboarding for new faculty and academic staff

Advancing Professional Development

We remain one of the few universities where sabbaticals are awarded in a competitive process instead of something faculty can count on. Sabbaticals are not time off, they enable faculty to devote an extended period of time to research and cultural production, to remain current in their areas of expertise, to collaborate with academics at other institutions and communities they otherwise would not be able to engage with, and they provide opportunities for faculty to acquire more experience to enable them to make their teaching activities more complete and/or appropriate to the cultural needs of the University.

In our 2023 Membership Survey, only 15% of our members said OCAD provides adequate professional development, and over 80% said OCAD doesn’t provide enough research/creative practice support. Underinvesting in professional development means the University is underinvesting in its core mission of providing world class education.

Proposals Include:

  • Recognize the collaborative nature of research and practice by eliminating the need to compete with one’s peers for the necessary sabbatical leaves for faculty to perform research and practice
  • Extend access to professional development funding to all faculty
  • Increase the supports available to each faculty member and academic staff
  • Establish an Indigeneity, Diversity, and Anti-Racism Professional Development Fund
  • Equip Academic Staff with the safety equipment they need to perform their jobs by providing a reimbursement for safety footwear

Protecting the Student Learning Experience via Manageable Workloads

Our working conditions are student learning conditions. Here’s just two examples: in our 2023 Membership Survey, 76% of respondents said high instructor-to-student ratios were affecting the quality of course delivery, and 73% reported it has affected their ability to provide support to students.

The instructor-to-student ratio has gotten significantly worse since before the pandemic, and the average undergraduate section size has increased by 33% since 2019/2020.

Academic YearAverage Undergrad Section Size

The repercussions of this on workload and student learning experiences have been dismissed and justified as intended consequence of FLOW. We are told larger classes will protect our ability to have small classes. But small classes are not being protected. In 2019/2020 over 93% of undergraduate classes were “small” (less than 30 students), but number has shrunk to roughly 75%. Not only have the number of small classes shrunk, the size of those classes has grown by 4 students per section. An increase of 4 students may not sound like that much to the administration, but if you teach 5 studio-based classes, that’s an additional 20 students per year with any additional support.

Overall, 77% of our members have reported their workload has increased in the past three years. Faculty and academic staff carry complex workloads comprised of responsibilities for teaching, professional practice, research and creative activities, and service to the University, their professions and the community. Composition of an individual’s workload can vary considerably from year to year, we need multifaceted approaches to address increasing workloads and to ensure a fair and equitable distribution.

One straightforward approach is to correct OCAD’s faculty complement: the breakdown between full-time permanent faculty positions and part-time precarious faculty positions. Our Memorandum of Agreement already specifies that Sessional faculty are meant to augment, rather than replace, tenured faculty. There is a 30% ceiling on sessional teaching to ensure that tenured faculty opportunities are not eroded – however, there are so many exemptions to this rule that have been exploited by the administration to the extent that sessional teaching now accounts for 55% of all for-credit curriculum. This is an unsustainable degree of instability and precarity. Not only is it unsustainable for the sessional faculty members who never know if their contract will be renewed or where their next paycheque will come from, its unsustainable for tenured faculty who now share an ever-increasing burden of service among fewer and fewer colleagues. OCAD’s admin needs to start respecting the 30% ceiling on sessional teaching. You can find our other proposals to address increasing workloads and protect the student learning experience below.

Proposals include:

  • Increasing Teaching Assistant availability to support faculty and students
  • Remove exemptions to our already agreed-to cap on precarious employment for faculty, to ensure an adequate level of full-time permanent positions
  • Redefine course loads to:
    • reflect the already existing credit system;
    • recognize the workload associated with graduate supervision;
    • provide release time for Chairs, Graduate Program Directors, and those engaged in University approved special projects; and
    • address inequitable distributions of total student load
  • A review of the graduate admissions process to match incoming graduate students with primary supervisors
  • A large class premium for sessional faculty to recognize the increased workload demanded of such classes

Improving Job Security

The need for improved job security was identified as one of the most important priorities for OCADFA members going into this round of bargaining. We believe job security is imperative not only for the employment stability of individual members, but for the betterment of the University as a whole. Faculty and academic staff who feel secure in their employment also feel secure to innovate, secure to fully participate in the University community, secure to commit to long-term projects and initiatives, and are secure to exercise their academic freedom. Job security is about more than stable employment, its about the security to perform our jobs to the best of our abilities.

Nearly two-thirds of faculty at OCAD are precariously employed with no pathway to permanency. Continuing faculty work contract-to-contract even if they’ve been here for decades, and almost half of OCAD’s Sessional faculty have been teaching here for at least ten years, and continue to scrape by course-to-course.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Prior to obtaining university status, part-time faculty at OCAD were considered permanent after five years of continuous teaching. This meant 71% of OCAD’s faculty had permanency. Sessional faculty were no longer recognized as permanent once OCAD obtained university status in 2002, and the number of permanent faculty dropped to 37%. OCAD the college had more faculty stability than OCAD the university – that is unacceptable.

OCADFA believes that these faculty members, who teach over 55% of the curriculum at OCAD, deserve the dignity of job security. The University counts on Sessional faculty to function, Sessional faculty should be able to count on the University too.

Proposals include:

  • Streamlining the Right of Reappointment
  • Introducing a General Right of Reappointment for Sessional Faculty, to guarantee appointments even if their courses for which they’ve achieved the Right of Reappointment are no longer available
  • Language to recognize the contributions made to the University by current faculty when applying for job opportunities
  • Protecting stable jobs for Academic Staff by eliminating chains of precarious contracts
  • Permanency for Continuing Faculty
  • Recognition of Teaching Stream years of service and amend the order of layoffs

Recognizing the Full Range of Faculty and Academic Staff Contributions to the University

It’s time for the Administration to expand their recognition of the contributions faculty and academic staff make to this University every day.

Let’s look at Sessional faculty, for example. In our recent bargaining survey, 90% of Sessional faculty indicated they have worked beyond the end of the semester to fulfill a student accommodation – this is not compensated for. More than a quarter of Sessionals have been asked to serve on a student thesis committee, a student field placement or independent study, or perform service work for the University, but there is currently no available compensation to recognize this labour.

Currently, when a Sessional’s contract is cancelled, they are only compensated 1 week’s pay for the work they did to prepare for that course, and only if the contract’s cancelled less than 1 week before the start of classes. The Administration needs to recognize how inadequate and unfair that is, especially when they ask for course outlines three weeks in advance.

Unlike at comparator universities, the essential roles Program Chairs and Graduate Program Directors perform in the University are not recognized at all in our Memorandum of Agreement.

Teaching Stream faculty are unjustifiably limited in their rank and do not have their years of service counted by the University.

Most other university administrations in Ontario recognize the service provided by elected officials of their respective Faculty Associations by relieving their teaching and service responsibilities; this does not happen at OCAD.

These are just a few of the myriad of ways they everyday contributions of faculty and academic staff go unrecognized at OCAD. Its time for the administration to level up.

Proposals Include:

  • Stipends to compensate sessional faculty for performing individualized instruction
  • To recognize that to conform by AODA standards and as requested on their appointment notices, that sessional faculty start preparing to teach their courses far earlier than one-week prior to the start of class
  • To fall in line with every other university and recognize the essential role Program Chairs and Graduate Program Directors play in the University
  • Recognition of Teaching Stream years of service and remove limitations on their rank within the University
  • As nearly every other administration in Ontario already does, we’re asking for the OCADU administration to recognize the service provided to the University by the elected officers of OCADFA
  • A title change for Technicians that more accurately reflects their contributions to the University
  • To recognize research performed by Academic Staff

Improving and Expanding Access to Benefits

Did you know that less than half of OCAD’s faculty have access to health benefits? That’s unacceptable for a modern university, OCAD’s administration needs to do better.

There were no improvements to benefits coverage last bargaining round, thanks in large part to Bill 124. We need to see some improvements in this round. Our current vision coverage is substandard and dental coverage is also inadequate. There also needs to be an overall increase in paramedical coverage, specifically to provide better access to mental health care. In our 2023 membership survey, 49% of respondents said they’ve experienced inability to access adequate mental healthcare due to poor pay and lackluster benefits provided by OCAD.  

Proposals include:

  • Expand access to all OCADFA members, including the elimination of employee premiums
  • Coverage improvements to fall inline with member needs, sector norms, and what the Admin provides for themselves
  • Bring OCAD inline with universities throughout Ontario by offering a tuition waiver for depends of Academic Staff and Faculty


Compensation for OCADFA members lags well behind the sector norm, and we’re feeling the effects. According to our 2020 Membership Survey, more than a third of OCAD’s faculty and academic staff have had to make difficult choices between basic necessities (such as food, rent, transportation, and medical care) while working at OCAD due to a lack of funds. Only 27% said their income from OCAD was enough to support themselves.

We know the post-secondary sector in Ontario suffers from chronic underfunding, but OCAD has still the money to more fairly compensate its faculty and academic staff. Over the last three years, OCAD has made a surplus of $27.5 million; even after subtracting capital gains the University has still accrued a surplus of $12.3 million over this stretch.

OCAD’s surpluses have come at the cost of under investing in faculty and academic staff. At only 6% growth in spending in the last five years (despite a 12% growth in the student population over that time), spending on academic salaries and benefits have increasingly been outpaced by spending on non-academic expenses, which has grown by 20% during this period. It’s time for OCAD to reinvest in its faculty and academic staff.

Proposals include:

  • A reasonable across-the-board increase to ease the financial hardship faced by our members in this time of staggering inflation
  • A transparent mechanism for Sessional pay scale progression, that fairly recognizes career achievement and experience
  • Safeguarding the ability of faculty and academic staff to retire with dignity
  • To end the pay disparity between tenured and non-tenured non-sessional faculty, and permanent and contract academic staff, by placing everyone on the same pay scales
  • To eliminate the lowest steps to raise the salary floor, and introduce new steps to raise the salary ceiling, to help our members catch up to the sector norms
  • To allow those at the salary ceiling to apply for merit along with their colleagues