April 7, 2020

Dear OCADFA members,

I am writing to let you know that OCADFA has signed a Letter of Understanding with the University, in the context of the unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19. This agreement is for the duration of the government-mandated restrictions or the end of the summer term, whichever comes first. It can be renewed if both parties agree.

Many Faculty Associations are working on developing a LOU; we are one of the first universities in the country to sign one. OCADFA felt it was important to secure a signed understanding to protect the rights of our members from unforeseen measures. I would like to thank our President Min Sook Lee who spearheaded the drafting of the LOU and unfortunately could not write this dispatch as she has to tend to a serious family matter. I would also like to thank the VPA’s office for working with us to secure this important understanding. The LOU is an expression of goodwill on both sides.

I will summarize key items of the Letter of Understanding below.

The LOU recognizes Academic Freedom and Intellectual Property Rights as it relates to our members, as set out in our Memorandum of Agreement. 

Most of our members have little or no training for, or experience of, online course delivery. Despite this, our members have gone to great efforts to ensure a smooth transition to online delivery in a short period of time. 

Within this context, the LOU affirms that the effects of having to implement remote course delivery on teaching during the remainder of Winter 2020 and Spring/Summer 2020 will be considered in performance evaluations or career review processes. Student course evaluations of Winter, Spring and Summer terms of 2020 cannot be used for performance evaluation or career review of faculty members, including performance review processes and consideration for tenure or promotion. Merit application deadlines have been extended until Friday, April 17, 2020. Tenure-track faculty can extend their probationary period by one year. Sessional instructors teaching during Spring or Summer term can claim $100 as expenses as result of migration to remote and/or alternative delivery models. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, and it is difficult to predict its course. Understanding that, OCADFA will be consulted by the University administration in the case of any cancellation of face-to-face classes beyond the Spring/Summer term or end of the pandemic. We will continue to work in concert with administration during this challenging time.

We are in full agreement with the administration that online delivery is necessary for the interest of public health. However, we also advise our members they cannot be forced to teach remotely. This is an issue of Academic Freedom and their pedagogical judgements are relevant and only our members can determine whether an online format is feasible and what the scope and methods will be of online delivery of the courses they teach.

Regarding spring/summer terms, we have heard from many members about possible workload reduction. We are closely monitoring the situation and we will be available for support one-on-one with members who have concerns. 

OCADFA is continuously monitoring the pandemic. We are in consulting with other Faculty Associations, our legal counsel, and organizations such as OCUFA and CAUT. I am sure many of you have concerns and questions. Please feel free to reach me at slawoti@faculty.ocadu.ca.


Surendra Lawoti

Vice President, OCADFA