Newsletter – December 2023

2023-2024 Number 5
December 2023
This fall semester has been a trying one. For many reasons, a number of which were beyond our control. In this challenging context in the months ahead, its important that we remain focused on what really matters: solidarity, collegiality, respect for each other. We’ll need those to tackle, collectively, whatever challenges 2024 sends our way. 

Until then, enjoy a restful and well-deserved break and have a restorative Holiday Season.
See you next year!
In this latest bulletin of 2023:

  • Latest news on the ratification of the new collective agreement
  • Quebec Government Goes Ahead with Tuition Hike
  • How to respond to potential disruption in teaching assignment
  • Yet another Administrative task download: CUFA Pushes Back
  • CUFA first workshop on Tenure Dossier
  • CAUT definition of Academic Freedom
  • Summary of the Chair’s Budget Meeting with Provost and CFO
  • News on the Health Plan
  • Revised Pension Plan Contribution Rates
  • A little piece of good news following the Laurentian University fiasco

Ratification of the Collective Agreement

Against a challenging backdrop of 2022–2023, we have managed to achieve a great deal, including the conclusion of a new round of negotiations. Let us take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to Linda Dyer, our chief negotiator, and the negotiating team—Kristen Dunfield, Gail Fayerman, Michael Groenendyk, Geneviève Robichaud, and Ciprian Alecsandru who left the team to become CUFA president, and Kumiko Vézina—who left for personal reasons—let them all be thanked for the remarkable and voluminous work they’ve accomplished on behalf of CUFA members preparing and conducting these negotiations meetings over the past eighteen months.

The agreement in principle was ratified by the CUFA membership. Close to 77% of our members submitted their ballots and 90 % of them voted in favour of ratifying the proposed Collective Agreement. Concordia’s Board of Governors also voted to accept CUFA’s new Collective Agreement for 2023-2026.

Quebec Government Goes Ahead with Tuition Hike  

Out-of-province and International Students will pay more to study at Concordia, as Quebec government is moving ahead with its plan to increase tuition fees for out-of-province and international students. The CUFA Council passed a motion earlier this autumn denouncing this decision as “inequitable, off-target, and likely to heighten the challenges faced by all Quebec universities in recruiting students”. You can read it here.

Canadian students outside Quebec will see a smaller but still significant increase – $12,000 instead of the previously announced $17,000. However, this increase is still punitive compared to the current tuition fees of nearly $9,000. It will have a negative impact on enrolment mostly at all three Anglophone universities, which are already facing difficult demographic context. The minimum tuition fee of $20,000 for international undergraduates will be maintained.

The government also doubled its target for new students’ francization to 80%, compared with the 40% initially proposed by Anglophone universities. An expectation deemed unrealistic by McGill and Concordia presidents.
This new policy will bring its share of challenges for the Employer and, in turn, for faculty, which will require increased vigilance on our part. CUFA will continue to engage even more with the Employer on how we can collectively push back these politically biased decisions from the government.

Potential Disruption in teaching Assignement

Following the recent request from the Dean’s office for departments to decide which under-enrolled courses could be dropped in certain units, you may be asked to teach a course in a department other than your own or a course you have never taught before. If this happens, it is important that before you agree to anything, to inform CUFA immediately ( or to ensure that Article 16 of the Collective Agreement on the duties and responsibilities of faculty members is properly used and applied.  

CUFA’s Tenure Dossier Workshop

CUFA held its first Tenure Dossier Workshop on November 10, 2023, with over 20 members in attendance.  Lea Katsanis, Member-at-Large, gave the seminar with the assistance of Ted Stathopoulos, CUFA Vice-President.

The PowerPoint deck is posted on the CUFA website ( for those who were unable to attend.  Many questions were asked about the process, and hopefully, all were answered. The CUFA Executive thanks everyone who attended for their strong participation. CUFA hopes to offer another session in the near future for the next group of tenure-track faculty.

ACADEM: how CUFA successfully pushed back…

The Associate Dean of John Molson School of Business (JMSB) sent the following memo earlier this month: “In preparation for upcoming 2024–2025 workload allocation discussions and accreditation purposes, we ask that all faculty members update their Academ CVs. Activities from January 2022 to December 2023 will be considered for the 2024–2025 workload. Kindly enter all updates by January 10, 2024.”

JMSB was requiring faculty members to provide updated CVs on “off years”—thus having them repeat this portion of the performance evaluation process every year rather than every two years, which is in clear violation of the Collective Agreement and one more undue administrative task download on faculty. Data entry on Academ is notably time consuming.

CUFA raised the issue of an Academ CV being required every year at the Liaison Committee meeting this week, and it was acknowledged that a full/updated CV is not required in the off years. The Administration said there would follow-up with a corrective memo.

This outcome was achieved via discussions at the Liaison Committee and through direct conversation with the Vice-Provost Faculty Development and Inclusion and JMSB Associate Dean. Thank you to the colleagues who were proactive and alerted CUFA on this. Their vigilance benefits the whole membership.

This episode should remind us all that, unfortunately, and contrary to the Collective Agreement, not all memos issued by the Dean’s Office are copied at the same time to CUFA (Article 8). It is therefore very important that, whenever a memo asks you to do something that is not part of your teaching, research, or service duties, you check its “compliance” with CUFA, as it may well be in breach of the Collective Agreement.

CAUT’s Definition of Academic Freedom

CUFA adheres completely to CAUT’s position on academic freedom as detailed very clearly and carefully balanced in their last statement on the matter.

Summary of the Chair’s Budget Meeting with Provost and CFO

Anna Sheftel, Chair of the School of Community and Public Affairs, in collaboration with Stephen Yeager, Chair of the English department, posted a very detailed and informative summary of that meeting on Cuforum. Thank you, Anna and Stephen!

We reproduce it here for the benefit of all members, including those who do not frequent the Forum.

News on Health Plan

At a recent meeting of the Benefits Committee, it was decided that our premiums for the health plan would be increased by 6% effective January 1, 2024, and that, effective May 1, 2024, the plan will move to mandatory generic drug substitution. The motion to this effect was submitted and approved by the Board of Governors yesterday, December 14. There is no change in the dental and vision premiums.Mandatory generic drug substitution is now the industry standard, and it is part of the RAMQ formula. If you are now on a maintenance drug (a drug that you are required to take on a continuing schedule; e.g., a drug for high blood pressure), you do not have to wait for May to switch to the generic version. Using the generic will reduce the plan costs and perhaps mitigate our premium increases in the future.

Please note: if your doctor prescribes a drug with no generic substitute or advises against any substitution, your medication will still be covered under the plan.

If you’re on maintenance medication and you fill your prescription each month, do you know that our plan allows you to ask for a 3-month refill. Pharmacists discourage 3-month refills because their fees are reduced. If you move to 3-month renewals, you save time, and the costs go down for the plan.

In short, if and whenever possible, you order for three months and opt for generic drugs, the health plan costs will be lower, and our premiums increases could be lowered.

Revised Pension Plan
Contribution Rates

CUFA’s representative on the Pension Plan Committee confirmed the following: as of January 1, 2024, the contributions to the pension plan will be increased following the tabling of the 2022 actuarial evaluation. Such evaluations are done every three years, and contributions are set in such a way as to avoid any deficit and to ensure that benefits are fully funded.

While many factors drive the actuarial evaluation, one of the key assumptions is the expected age at which retirees die: the assumption was revised upwards by our actuaries, which raises the actuarial liability and, consequently, the level of funding required to ensure that no deficit is created. Regarding the year’s maximum pensionable earnings (YMPE) as defined under the Canada Pension Plan, the 2023 level was $66,600 and the 2024 level is $68,500.

Laurentian University: a little piece of good news, in case you’ve missed it.

Last year, the Laurentian University claimed bankruptcy, shutting down 69 programs and letting go of over 100 faculty members. This procedure was denounced as fraudulent by the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) as their employer willingly left them in the dark about the university’s finances to cease its activity and pay only selected creditors.

Along with CAUT member associations, CUFA mobilized in support of LUFA and participated in a letter-writing campaign demanding members of parliament to exclude public universities and colleges from the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act [CCAA] and the Bankruptcy and insolvency Act [BIA] abusively used by Laurentian University.

The Canadian government finally listened and, in its November 21-Fall Economic Statement, announced that it “will amend the CCAA and BIA to exclude public post-secondary institutions.” Victory!

Though it is too late for our dismissed colleagues at Laurentian University, they are now vindicated and may find comfort in knowing that this cannot happen again.

May this serve as a warning to higher education institutions: they are not and cannot operate as business-oriented enterprises, whose performances are judged solely by their financial bottom lines. In a world where democracies are increasingly fragile, universities hold an essential role that extends well beyond their annual financial performance. Their primary mission should be to educate, advancing and disseminating knowledge in all fields, not just the economically viable.

CUFA Report is published by the Concordia University Faculty Association
Editorial Board: Léa Roboam, Ciprian Alecsandru, Aaron Brauer,
Geneviève Robichaud, Ted Stathopoulos.
Contributors to this issue: June Chaikelson, Lea Katsanis
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