October 2021 Dispatch


COVID necessitated an abrupt transition to online teaching, but many of the changes we adopted to take us through the onset of the crisis are difficult to maintain, unsustainable and some undermine key principles of the work we do and our labour standards.  As we move into the second academic year of the pandemic it’s important for us to ensure these ‘new normals’ don’t creep in our everyday working lives. The ‘new normals’ I’m talking about include:

  • The expectation that every faculty member will record their classes for asynchronous access
  • The increase in class sizes without adequate TA support
  • The expectation that all online classes should be asynchronous
  • The expectation that you should share your online course materials 
  • The unprecedented increase in workload
  • The idea that attendance and deadlines should no longer apply
  • Modes of dual delivery described as hybrid or hy-flex or whatever neo-liberal monstrosity term floats up, which increase workload and undermine studio practice

In the midst of the 4th wave of the pandemic accommodations must be provided to support students to succeed in the classroom. However, the academic integrity of our courses cannot be compromised.  Studio based, in-person education is what we excel at and what compels students and faculty to commit to OCADU.  But online teaching is too attractive to the pocket books of neoliberal universities that are routinely looking at ways to save money, see labour as expendable and make the delivery of education more ‘efficient’.  Any moves online need to be faculty led, driven by pedagogy and informed by creative practice.

COVID has impacted our membership differently.  People who are precariously employed, managing mental health issues themselves or in their family circle, tasked with childcare or elder care are carrying a significantly heavier burden through this pandemic.  Recent research has shown that women identified and  Black, Indigenous & racialized workers are disproportionately impacted by COVID.  Our professional advancements and performances have been hit hardest due to interlocking levels of systemic discrimination that predated the pandemic.

As of now, OCAD University is preparing for an in-person return to campus for the winter term of 2022.  OCADFA is committed to engaging our membership and Administration in proactive conversations to ensure we work together to reach resolutions on issues related to workload, academic integrity, academic freedom and intellectual property. And to make sure the full throttle return to face-to-face learning is safe for all.

COVID Health and Safety on Campus

 In June 2021, OCADFA members of the University’s Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) presented a Health and Safety Checklist for University Re-opening, a document compiled by public health experts at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. OCAD University’s Administration’s response to our COVID safety checklist can be found here.  OCADFA representatives on our JHSC are now following up on the checklist demands. 

Some members have reported that the system of checking vaccine status on campus has been irregular.  We have communicated our concerns with the Gradual Re-opening Group chaired by Alan Simms and will continue to monitor the existing systems.  We need a vaccine monitoring system that is robust.  We also need to ensure our campus doesn’t turn into an over-policed space.  This is a careful balance and our position is that the COVID protocols must be implemented with compassion, equitably and through a public health lens as opposed to a carceral one.

OCADU Vaccine Policy

The Association supports measures to maintain a healthy and safe OCAD community. OCADFA supports vaccination and encourages our members to get vaccinated.  At the same time, OCADU’s vaccination policy must respect the human and labour rights of OCADFA members.  To this end, the mandatory vaccination policy must be interpreted and applied consistent with member rights under the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The Policy requires that members seeking an exemption on the basis of religion/creed must provide documentation verifying their sincerely held religious belief/creed and explaining how it prohibits receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination. This requirement for documentation is unreasonable. A requirement that employees submit documentation up front to verify their sincerely held religious beliefs is inconsistent with Canadian jurisprudence and is unreasonable.

OCADU’s vaccination policy only allows for exemptions from vaccination on the basis of medical grounds and religious beliefs/creed. We take the position that members have a right to be accommodated on the basis of any of the protected grounds under the Human Rights Code, and are not restricted only to accommodation on the basis of disability or creed. 

The Policy appears to only recognize a medical exemption where one of two grounds exist:

1) an allergist/immunologist-confirmed severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components that cannot be mitigated;

2) a diagnosed episode of myocarditis/pericarditis after receipt of an mRNA vaccine.

However, members have a right to be accommodated on the basis of disability under s. 5 of the Human Rights Code and Article 8.1 of the MOA and, in OCADFA’s view, this protection is not necessarily restricted to the two specific grounds set out in the medical exemption form, as long as there is a sufficient medical basis to support the requested accommodation.

Article 8.1.1 of the OCADFA Memorandum of Agreement prohibits discrimination against any member on the basis of “political affiliation or beliefs”, in addition to Code-protected grounds. Currently, the vaccine policy does not allow for the possibility of exemption on the basis of political beliefs.

OCADFA expects that the OCAD vaccination policy will be interpreted and applied consistent with members’ full rights under the Human Rights Code and the MOA

If you are seeking an exemption and would like support through the process or are having difficulty getting your exemption recognized please contact us.

2020-2023 MoA ratification

We are still finalizing the draft of the new MoA and we will send that out as soon as possible. The full details of the arbitration award can be found here, and a summary of all changes here.  We are excited about some last round wins on increased funds for sabbaticals.  Details will be forthcoming.

Course Mode of Delivery 

At the intersection of COVID measures, Flow implementation, and the external review, there have been a number of drastic changes made to curriculum delivery.  With these changes come corresponding expectations and pressures on faculty and technicians.  If you are finding that the expectations of how you were supposed to deliver your course are different than what was communicated to you please get in touch.  We will advocate for your right to deliver the course material in a way that you feel safe and that represent reasonable workloads.  Below are the course delivery models put forth by the Registrar and around which, planning and scheduling have been implemented.  Please take a look and compare these with your own experiences.  We appreciate hearing about how they relate to your course content and the realistic delivery of course material before these models become the “new normal”. 

From the Registrar:  Description of the different modes of delivery for 21-22: 

1. Remote: These courses can be taught very effectively online. These courses will be run remote regardless of the opening scenario. Students who cannot come back to campus will be directed toward these courses for the coming academic year. Faculty cannot expect students to access campus for any assignments, critiques or other assessments. 

2. Partially Remote If the campus is open, students registered in these courses will be expected to be on-campus. This will be clearly communicated prior to registration. 3 options:
2a) Partially Remote – Mandatory Campus Access (curbside pickup/drop) 

Remote Instruction AND Mandatory Campus Access for curbside pickup/drop
2b) Partially Remote – Specialty Space Access (student bookings) 

Remote instruction AND access to Specialty Studios booked individually by students through Shops/Studios. Scheduling will not be booking the space for the section in that studio.
2c) Partially Remote – Scheduled Class (in-person 1/3 of the class at a time) 

 a room will be assigned but limited to socially distanced capacity (assume 1/3-1/2 capacity). Instructors will have flexibility to use the space within public health guidelines e.g. class splits 3 hour block, attends every other week. 

TA hours and responsibilities 

With the approval of Flow in Senate came a commitment to increase teaching supports in anticipation of increased class sizes and newly designed large-format courses.  Part of the acknowledged success of Flow was the hiring and training of TAs and RAs as part of that support.  As part of these responsibilities, TAs contribute to curriculum delivery in a number of valuable ways which should be reflected in the contracts either as marker/graders or tutorial leaders.  Recently it has come to OCADFA’s attention that in some contracts the assigned hours are insufficiently reflect the required contact hours and responsibilities of this role.  Also, the hiring process has been problematic with TAs assigned to classes outside of their disciplines, necessitating learning new material and preparation without compensation. If you are a TA/RA and have concerns about workload, the number of hours assigned to you in relation to the class contact hours, and whether your contract adequately describes your role, please contact OCADFA. 

Intellectual Property and Course Content 

IP issues are an ongoing concern for OCADFA.  All of the course content you have provided and that you have created are your intellectual property, including lectures, assignments, videos, pre-recorded demos, and curated reading lists.  You are not required to record your lectures for asynchronous delivery and there are methods of delivering this content in other ways.  If you have concerns about your IP or if you feel pressured to record your classes, please contact OCADFA. 

Members are advised to include this statement on their canvas courses: 

“Intellectual Property and Copyright in these materials are owned by your instructor. Please be warned that although it may be easier to record or transcribe lectures and discussions through online platforms, it is your responsibility to refrain from distributing those recordings or transcriptions. Posting material online will violate the privacy and copyright interests of your instructor and fellow students. By sharing my teaching materials online, I do not relinquish copyright and ownership in the materials. Misuse or further distribution whether online or in hard copy without express permission is prohibited.”  – This statement was developed with CAUT legal support. 


Do you require accommodations?  Are these accommodations being met? The duty to accommodate places an onus on the employer, to find a way to accommodate the needs of the employee.  According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, “The duty to accommodate is informed by three principles: respect for dignity, individualization, as well as integration and full participation.”  The goal of an accommodation is to ensure that an employee who is able to work, can do so.  Accommodations that you seek may require proper medical documentation and are negotiated on your behalf through the Office of Human Resources.  A representative from HR will advise you through the process and work with your home Faculty to find solutions with a view to “maximizing your integration and full participation in the workplace”. Contact us at OCADFA at any stage in the process of negotiating an accommodation with HR and we can support you through the process. 

Grad Supervision

Members have reached out to us asking about compensation for grad supervision.  Grad supervision is included in article 20.2 of our MoA, as part of the ‘Teaching &Teaching -Related responsibilities’.  This came out of our most recent round of negotiations for the 2020-2023 MoA.  Graduate supervision needs to be reflected in workload, i.e,. either credits towards a course release, or a re-weighting of workload from service to teaching for those supervising graduate students.  There has to be some accounting of the workload that grad supervision entails. If you take on grad students you can re-weight your service hours to reflect this or discuss a formulae for course release with your Dean if they are amenable. 

 There is a history behind this situation, which is open for more discussions in our next round of bargaining.  Faculty used to be offered stipends for supervising grad students.  In the round of negotiations that preceded this most recent one, the negotiations that gave us the 2016-2020 MoA, OCADFA agreed to give up the stipend for grad supervision in exchange for a decrease in course workload.  We moved from teaching 7 courses in an academic term to the 5 we currently teach.  Universities across this country differ with regard to compensation for grad supervision. Some provide credit release or allow faculty to calculate grad supervision as part of a teaching load.  Other universities, like ours, recognize grad supervision as part of service and teaching related duties.  What we need to do is ensure the work does not go unaccounted for.   In our next round of bargaining, if members vote to prioritize this, we can fight for grad supervision stipends or a formula for direct course releases. 

Member Handbooks 

OCADFA is excited to announce that we now have Member Handbooks specifically geared towards two of our historically underrepresented and precarious labour groups: Sessional faculty and Teaching/Research Assistants. We would like to thank Elena Chou for her excellent work in drafting the Teaching/Research Assistant handbook all the members who participated in our TA consultations this past summer and during the 2020-21 academic year. We would also like to thank Mary Eileen Wennekers and Clifford Caines for preparing the Sessional handbook and all the members who have participated in our Sessional Committee.  

We will continue to amend and adjust these handbooks in the years as ahead, as well as developing handbooks for other labour categories, so any feedback will be greatly appreciated. 

Know Your Rights! Sessional Handbook 

OCADFA TA/RA Members Handbook 

Grievance Update October 2021 

 At regular intervals we will share with you a report on grievance resolutions and activities.  This provides a snapshot of the issues that members have experienced, you may see your own concerns reflected in these cases or have something similar to discuss. You will also see how both Administration and OCADFA are actively working on addressing issues that you may have experienced or are dealing with. Grievances are normal channels of labour relations , they are an effective mechanism your union uses to monitor workplace conditions and/or violations of our MoA.   Grievances are part of the systemic recourse we have legal access to protect workers and employers and they also shed light on where further work needs to be done to advance the principles of labour and human rights central to our institution and society.

  • Standardizing Workload  

OCADFA is working with the employer on a way to standardize employees’ service and workload obligations to the university.   In this way, your commitments will be clear at the commencement of the academic year and/or the beginning of your contract period.   A form will be an invaluable and equitable tool to identify the needs of the university and acknowledge the work that employees take on.  It is also an opportunity to recognise the unique burden carried by equity seeking groups in the workplace in terms of assignments and the unacknowledged additional workload they take on.  Most recently OCADFA was awarded an MoS articulating this often invisible work and paves the way for more equitable practices in the institution.  (Link to Mos with Kaplan) 

We invite feedback from you on what you would like to see in a potential Standard Workload Form and how would you capture the work you do at the school.  Designing and implementing a Standard Workplace Form is a positive step in articulating the complexities of our responsibilities and commitments to the school and should be deeply informed by OCADFA membership.  

  • Sessional Pay – Member Grievance

The implementation of the Right of Reappointment is not the only thing OCADFA is diligently monitoring that specifically impacts our Sessional faculty members. We continue to pressure the administration to reasonably respect Article 19.1.1 of our Memorandum of Agreement, which provides for Sessional faculty members to be placed on the sessional pay grid (Appendix C) at a level “which reflects experience and career achievement.” 

Of our 263 Sessional members in the 2020-21 academic year, only three were compensated at the Ses3 rate, and 24 at the Ses2 rate. The default position of the administration has been to place new Sessional members at the Ses1 rate irrespective of the individual’s experience and career achievement, as indicated by Sessional appointments being advertised at the lowest pay rate before the successful candidate’s experience and career achievements can even be known. Extremely few Sessionals have moved up the grid following their initial placement, and there is no discernable process for doing so.  

Following the successful settlement of a Sessional pay grievance after one day of mediation with Arbitrator Beatty this past summer, OCADFA has called on the administration to no longer place new Sessional faculty at the Ses1 rate by default, and to develop a transparent process by which Sessional faculty can move up the pay grid. The administration has responded positively to those calls and the issue has been a topic at several Joint Committee meetings we have with the administration, and we have received assurances they are working to address this issue. We look forward to receiving an update at our next Joint Committee meeting and will continue to update the membership on any developments. 

  • Library Reorganization – Policy Grievance 

On May 4, 2021 four senior academic librarians at OCAD University, members of OPSEU Local 576, were given layoff notices (effective June 1, 2021) due to library restructuring. The four academic librarians gave more than seven decades of invaluable service to our University, and our University has now lost a great deal of institutional history and knowledge that cannot be replaced. Library staff, faculty or students were not meaningfully consulted on this reorganization. You can read more about it on the OPSEU Local 576 website. 

The remove was criticized by both our national (the Canadian Association of University Teachers) and provincial affiliates (Ontario Coalition of University Faculty Associations), and over thirty solidarity letters in support of OCADU Librarians were sent to OCADU President Ana Serrano condemning the move. OCADFA joined with OPSEU Local 576 and the OCAD Student Union in creating an OCAD United petition “Don’t put the hook to OCADU Professional Academic Librarians” which received more than 1,800 signatures.  

OCADFA filed a policy grievance on June 3, 2021 alleging that the University administration unreasonable overridden and/or interfered with collegial governance processes critical to the determination of educational policy, and failed to manage the University in a manner which fulfills its educational manager consistent with the provisions of the Ontario College of Art & Design Act. On July 19, 2021 OCADFA met with members of the administration for a “step 2” grievance meeting, where we expressed our concerns with how the restructuring decisions were made and how the restructuring itself may have a negative impact on the workload of our members, on research, and ultimately on the student experience.  

On August 13, 2021 we received an official response to the grievance from the administration have been able to successfully negotiate a settlement. In settlement of the grievance, the Teaching and Learning Committee (TLC), which includes five faculty members, will review and provide recommendations to the Policy & Planning Committee of Senate by December 15, 2021 with respect to how, in light of the recent reorganization, the Library will support faculty and students in support of teaching, learning and research.  

The grievance may be settled, but the issue certainly is not. OCADFA remains concerned about the negative impact the loss of these four senior academic librarians will have, and looks forward to engaging with the recommendations to be provided by the TLC to the Senate’s Policy & Planning Committee. At the very least, we believe the overwhelming support received by the OCADUnited campaign against this restructuring sends a strong message to the University administration that it cannot circumvent collegial governance processes with impunity, and we wish to thank all the individuals and faculty associations who amplified that message. 


Xspace Cultural Centre has some great new shows. Please let your students know about them.

Congratulations to our colleague Lillian Allen for the release of her book ‘Make the World New’Make the World New brings together some of the highlights of Lillian Allen’s work in a single volume. It revisits her well-known verse from the celebrated collections Rhythm an’ Hardtimes, Women Do This Everyday, and Psychic Unrest, while also assembling new and uncollected poems.  The book is lovingly reviewed in the November Walrus edition by Kaie Killough in which the writer asserts: ‘Allen gave my generation a sense of mission’.  We’ve attached the article to this dispatch.

If you’d like news of your creative work profiled in upcoming OCADFA Dispatches please contact me to let us know the details of your exhibition/screening/publication or activity.

 This Dispatch has been co-written by myself, OCADFA’s Grievance Chair Natalie Waldburger and our Executive Director Graeme Reniers.

In sol,

Min Sook Lee