The Ontario government is asking universities that are in the middle of labour negotiations to walk away from the table and impose a two-year wage freeze. Although the wage freeze is being proposed for all public sector employees, as part of a plan to reduce a $19.7 billion deficit, the government is singling out universities because several of them are currently in the middle of collective bargaining. “It’s not that we chose them or they chose to go first,” a government official told the Globe. “It’s just that chronologically [their agreements] are coming up.” The Star added that after those two-years are up, that wage increases should be regulated inline with the province’s 1.9 per cent cap on spending increases.
Faculty groups are not impressed. “The government is trying to impose its wishes for zero compensation increases without the legislative tools to do so,” said a spokesman for the Ontario Confederation of Faculty Association quoted in the Globe. Executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers is concerned the move entails forcing universities to bargain as one unit, a move, he told the Star that would be “quite a worrisome development.”