Hopefully, we will all get an opportunity to start enjoying SUMMER and, perhaps, get out a little bit more! Let me fill you in on recent developments and activities regarding our Association.
First of all, WURA members, we need your help!
We need a WURA volunteer to replace Jake Soderlund as our WURA Rep on the WUFA Executive. The Minimum requirement – you must be a past WUFA member! Please see our “Request for a Volunteer” further on in this e-Bulletin
I am pleased to inform you that WURA has been very involved in the University’s Strategic Planning Process. WURA submitted a Report outlining six Priorities. Please see the article further on in this e-Bulletin discussing the Association’s Report and those six Priorities.
Normally, at our regular WURA AGM, Cheryl Paglione from Human Resources makes a presentation on our benefits. Once again, please see the article further on in this e-Bulletin for the good news on the Green Shield Subsidy!
At the last WURA Executive Meeting, we decided, on your behalf, to support the University’s Student Emergency Bursary Fund
for Ukrainian Students in the amount of $500. The Executive also encourages WURA members to make individual donations to the Fund. Please see – and use -- the donation link
The WURA Social Committee is hoping to provide a local outing for WURA members to get together this summer. The Committee is planning a possible trip to a Local Winery on July 27th, for those that are interested. Please see the "Social Events" article in this e-Bulletin and register with Mary Lou Drake, if you are interested.
IT Services has announced that the MS Office A1 license, through the Web, is now available to ALL retirees, as of April 30th. Formerly, this MS Office A1 support was only available to WURA members. However, getting the MS Office A3 Desktop support for WURA members, which is available to active faculty and staff, is still a work in progress.
Recently, I personally reached out to 23 new “2021 retirees” inviting them to become Members of WURA. So far, some 6 have indicated their interest in joining WURA and have contacted Norm King with their annual dues. And, by the way, for those who still owe their annual WURA dues, a reminder notice has, once again, been included in this e-Bulletin.
The WURA Communications Committee, not only has been busy providing this new June e-Bulletin, but will be looking to update the WURA website over the summer. I appreciate this committee’s work on improving the communication with our WURA members.
A new 4-month VIP-CSL Student, assisting to provide WURA Technical Support, just recently started. Allan Conway is continuing to assist in the supervision of this student support.
Three members of the WURA Executive and one WURA member
recently attended the CURAC Online AGM on June 16th, and participated in the Best Practices Breakout Groups.
Summaries of the Breakout sessions can be found on the CURAC website at www.curac.ca.
A Report on the different topics discussed by the WURA participants will be given to the WURA Executive.
Finally, if you have any ideas or suggestions regarding what WURA should be doing, please send me or a WURA Executive member an e-mail. Please stay safe and healthy, as we emerge from this pandemic this Summer!
WURA’s Report for University’s Strategic Planning Process
By Jake Soderlund
WURA Advances Priorities for University in Strategic Planning Process
Six Priorities Identified by Association
At last year’s JCC Meeting, President Gordon asked for WURA’s participation in the University’s upcoming Strategic Planning Process. In February of this year, WURA members were asked for their suggestions with respect to the priorities to be included in the Association’s submission to the University’s Strategic Planning Committee. A Committee of WURA members, consisting of Roger Lauzon, Gwendolyn Ebbett, Norman King, Veronika Mogyorody, Jake Soderlund, John Meyer and Mary-Louise Drake, was struck to review the submissions. The Committee, following a series of e-mail exchanges, produced a Report which was, in due course, approved by the Executive Committee at its April meeting and, then, forwarded to the University Strategic Planning Committee.
WURA’s Report advanced six Priorities for the Strategic Planning Committee to consider. The Priorities were as follows:
Priority One – Transitioning: To reevaluate and improve the process of transitioning from “Active” to “Retired” Faculty/Administrators. Retirement needs to be made more attractive. Retirees need to be better integrated into University life—specifically they need to be regarded and treated as valued members of the University community.
Priority Two – Scholarships for Students: Including, but not limited to existing WURA scholarships, to launch a major University-wide fund-raising campaign to increase the number and value of scholarships available to students from historically disadvantaged communities, both domestic and international.
Priority Three – The Centre for Social Justice: To reinstate the Centre for Social Justice, created in 2003 and terminated in 2013. Along with the Automobile and the Environment, “Social Justice” was one of the “three pinnacles” of the University, as agreed upon in a beginning of the new century Strategic Planning document.
Priority Four – Intellectual Skills: To refocus University education to provide an education that offers the intellectual skills needed in order to provide a foundation for living -- rather than merely for making a living.
Priority Five – Tenure Track and Sessional Appointments: To maintain a prudent balance between permanent tenure track positions and sessional appointments.
Priority Six – A Return to In-person Learning: To demonstrate a clear commitment to a post-Covid-19 return to primarily in-person instruction.
In a two-hour TEAMS meeting on May 11th, these Priorities were discussed in detail with Planning Coordinator, Frazier Fathers, and President Gordon’s Chief of Staff, Beverley Hamilton. The Committee felt that WURA’s concerns were being taken seriously and, even if they did not appear in the Strategic Plan, they would be addressed in some form by the University Administration. Indeed, some of these Priorities will be on the Agenda of this year’s JCC Meeting with President Gordon.
To read the full WURA Report, including the supporting arguments, go to the WURA website which can be found at this link: https://dumala4.wixsite.com/home/general-5
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By Jonathan Bayley
WINE TASTING IN JULY:
Nothing (Absolutely NOTHING) is better to perk up your summer than a Wine Tasting!
When? Wednesday, July 27th, 2022 @ 1:30 pm
Where? Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.
7258 Essex County Rd 50 RR #5, Amherstburg, ON N0R 1G0.
Phone: (519) 738-9253;
Features: Wine tasting $14 per person -- includes four wines: two white and two red;
Charcuterie cone $10 per person
Picnic basket for two $28.
How Do I Get My Ticket? Contact Mary Louise Drake at firstname.lastname@example.org. Prepayment for food and drink may be required.
BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!!
AND STAY TUNED FOR OUR FALL EVENTS!
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By Jake Soderlund
Recent Developments: Thus far in 2022, Adrian Van Den Hoven agreed to serve on the Research Committee and Krishan Duggal joined the WURA Research Support Group, becoming our 16th member. As well, the Executive Committee has asked Professor Kris Romero of the Psychology Department to introduce his research focused on older adults at a Fall Zoom Social, with an eye to some kind of collaboration—don’t miss this one!
Jonathan Bayley (2022). “Stephen Bulla’s Rhapsody for flute: A performance study guide.” National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI) Journal, 69(2), 8-15.
Ihor Stebelsky – Various entries in the Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine (Entry title and date submitted): “North Crimean Canal” - March 6, 2022, “Donetsk Basin” – December 30, 2021, “Rubizhne” – April 11, 2021, “Starobilsk” – March 15, 2021, “Alchevsk” – April 11, 2021, “Lysychansk” – March 7, 2021, “Sievierodonetsk” – February 4, 2021, “Kramatorsk” – January 8, 2021, “Bakhmut” – December 12, 2020, “Sloviansk” – November 30, 2020, “Horlivka” – November 17, 2020, “Mariupol” – November 7, 2020, “Luhansk” – October 22, 2020, “Donetsk” – October 1, 2020, “Luhansk Oblast” – June 19, 2020, “Donetsk Oblast” – May 12, 2020
A section of the North Crimean Canal outside the settlement of Tabachnoye near Dzhankoi in Crimea, after water supplies to Crimea were recently reduced on the North Crimean Canal. Photo: Reuters
Research in progress:
Ihor Stebelsky -- “Crimea”
Final Note: Membership in the Group is open to all who are interested in research. When Covid conditions permit, we would like to organize a “coffee get-together” for those living in the greater Windsor/Essex area – more on this over the summer. Also, please forward any ideas for research possibilities or group activities to me at email@example.com.
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We Need A Volunteer.
WURA Members - we need your help!
WURA requires a volunteer to serve as an Associate Member on the Windsor University Faculty Association’s (WUFA) Executive Committee. Beginning July 1st, 2022, a new WUFA Executive Committee will begin their term and, Jake Soderlund, who has been the WURA representative for the past six months, will be stepping down to accommodate his Fall travel schedule. There is no need to be a current member of the WURA Executive Committee but the WUFA’s Constitution requires that the position of Associate Member be filled by someone who had been a member of the WUFA union during their time of active University service.
WUFA has been holding its Executive Committee meetings on-line for the past year and will continue to do so for the remainder of 2022. So, there will be no in-person meetings for at least six months. The duties of the Associate Member are not onerous but do require the WURA representative to attend weekly meetings which usually last for about an hour. The primary task of the Associate Member is to report to the WURA Executive on any activities that may be of interest to WURA or may have an impact on University retirees, monitor ongoing WUFA issues, and update the WURA President on key concerns and developments.
If you are interested in participating as the WURA representative on the WUFA Executive, please contact Roger Lauzon < firstname.lastname@example.org> by Friday, July 8th, 2022.
And Thank you!
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Chair Reports on Communications Committee Activities
By Gwendolyn Ebbett, Chair
In this, our first year, the Communications Committee has been concentrating on launching the new WURA e-Bulletin. We hope you have found the (Five!) issues to date, interesting and informative. We welcome your comments, your suggestions for future issues, and your potential articles. As well, the Communications Committee has drafted its Terms of Reference, which the WURA Executive approved on April 13th, 2022. Please peruse them at your convenience:
Windsor University Retirees’ Association (WURA)
Terms of Reference
1. Purpose: The Executive of the Windsor University Retirees’ Association (WURA) established the Communications Committee to oversee the Association’s communications with its Members; to assist in setting policies for all aspects of WURA’s communications with its Members; and to provide planning support to ensure effective, efficient and timely communication with WURA members.
2. Membership: The Committee will be comprised of the following Members: Five Members of the Association, one of whom shall be a Member of the Executive of WURA and shall serve as Chair of the Communications Committee and one who will, in addition, serve as a Member of the Editorial Board of the WURA e-Bulletin. The President of WURA and the Association’s Webmaster will serve as Ex-officio Members of the Committee.
3. Terms of Reference: The Terms of Reference shall be the following:
3.1 To ensure timely and relevant communication with WURA members. The Communications Committee will ensure timely and relevant communications to Members through email notices, website postings, distribution of the WURA e-Bulletin, and through any other means of communication that is deemed to be an effective and efficient means of communication with Members.
3.2 To ensure the ongoing accuracy of information available to Members on the WURA website. The Communications Committee shall be responsible for monitoring the content of the WURA Website – its organization, its accuracy, its completeness, and its accessibility. The Committee shall be responsible for ensuring leadership and staffing for the WURA webpage.
3.3 To oversee the publication of the WURA e-Bulletin. The WURA e-Bulletin will be published 5 times a year – twice each semester and one during the summer break.
Further, the Communications Committee will ensure there is an ongoing staffing structure for the WURA Bulletin in the form of an Editorial Board. The Committee will appoint an Editorial Board of 3, or more, Members. The Editorial Board shall include at least one Member of the Communications Committee.
3.3.1 Initially, the Communications Committee shall oversee the work of the Editorial Board. The terms of the Editorial Board members should be overlapping and be 3 years and renewable, if acceptable to the Communications Committee and Executive. The Editorial Board shall oversee content. Policies for the content of the e-Bulletin should be established and published to allow WURA members to submit items for potential inclusion. Content should be relevant, relate directly to the WURA membership and include regular reports from the WURA Executive and WURA Committees, as well as upcoming events.
3.4 To provide an ongoing digital archive of WURA communication (Executive, Committee, e-Bulletin, and so forth). WURA needs an archive for Executive and Committee Minutes, Reports, the WURA Newsletter, the WURA e-Bulletin, website snapshots, and so forth. The Communications Committee shall be responsible for ensuring the creation and maintenance of this Archive.
3.5 To promote the Benefits of WURA membership.
3.6 In all matters, the Communications Committee shall report to the WURA Executive.
Approved by the Communications Committee -- 9 March 2022.
Approved by the Executive -- 13 April 2022.
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Green Shield Premium & Retiree Subsidy
Highest Since Inception
By Cheryl Paglione
Executive Director, Pensions, Benefits & HRIS
We’ve just completed our annual Green Shield Premium & Retiree Health Care Subsidy exercise for this upcoming May 1st, 2022 to April 30th, 2023 year. This year’s subsidy distribution amount is the highest since inception in 2006 -- $71 per year of pensionable service.
The Green Shield Premium & Retiree Health Care Subsidy began in 2006 but it was conceived during the 2001-2004 Contract Negotiations between the Faculty Association and the University. The Agreement called for funds to be set aside by the University to establish a Health Care Premium Subsidy Plan for Retirees. The Memorandum of Agreement found in the Collective Agreement 2001-2004 states: “The parties agree to establish a trust fund for Retired Members to subsidize the benefit costs of retired members excluding dental benefit coverage . . .”.
A Retiree is defined as a Member of the Faculty Association bargaining unit at the time of their retirement who is drawing a pension from the University’s Retirement Plan for Faculty and Certain Employees.
We have 262 Faculty retirees and survivors of retirees currently receiving a health care subsidy to reduce their GSC premium cost. Of those, 155 (60%) have a subsidy high enough to cover their entire GSC health care premium for the entire year. (Last year, we had a “grand” total of 1 person).
This is wonderful news, and I know our retirees are going to be very, very appreciative of these savings, especially with their other standard living expenses rising by the day!
Here are some FAQs on the GSC Premium & Retiree Health Care Subsidy:
Q. How do I determine if I’m eligible for a premium subsidy?
A. To be eligible for a premium, one must be a member of the Faculty Association bargaining unit at the time of their retirement, they must enroll in the health care portion of the University of Windsor’s Health & Dental Care Plan for Faculty Retirees, and they must draw a Pension from the University’s Retirement Plan for Faculty and Certain Employees. There is also a provision to provide a subsidy for a surviving spouse of a retired member.
Q. If a Retired Member is receiving a health care premium subsidy and passes away, is the surviving spouse eligible to continue to receive the premium subsidy?
A. The surviving spouse of a deceased Retired Member shall continue to receive the premium subsidy, regardless of the pension option selected at the time of retirement by the Member so long as the surviving spouse continues to subscribe to the health care portion of the Health & Dental Care Plan for Faculty Retirees.
Q. How is the ‘subsidy payment’ made?
A. The subsidy is not a cash payment. The subsidy amount is applied to reduce the health care portion of your monthly premium. In the event that the calculated monthly subsidy amount is greater than the monthly health care premium amount, the monthly health care premium is simply reduced to 0.00 for that Plan Year. It should be noted that the subsidy does not apply to the retiree dental care premium as the University contributes 50% of the dental premium for faculty retirees as provided for under the collective agreement.
Q. What types of health care plan premiums are covered?
A. Only the premiums for the University of Windsor’s Health Care Plan for Faculty Retirees are subsidized. The subsidy is not affected by whether you carry single, couple, or family coverage or by the coverage option (prescription and so forth).
Q. Can the subsidy be applied to another Health Care Plan, within or outside of Canada, including a spouse’s plan?
A. No. The Parties have agreed that the premium subsidies can only be provided to those Retired Members enrolled in the University of Windsor’s Health & Dental Care Plan for Faculty Retirees.
Q. When can I expect the subsidy to start?
A. Existing Retired members or surviving spouses who are enrolled in the Health Care Plan as of December 31st are treated as Participants who are eligible for a subsidy in the upcoming Plan Year effective May 1st. Individuals who become Retired Members (or their surviving spouses) may enroll in the Health Care Plan at any time after retirement, but must be enrolled by December 31st of a calendar year to be eligible for a subsidy in the following Plan Year. In other words, if you enroll in the Health Care Plan by December 31st in a given year, your subsidy allocation begins the following May 1st. Participating retirees are notified of the new subsidy and premium amounts each year prior to May 1st.
Q. I have more questions. Is there someone I can speak to about the plan?
A. Benefit questions should be directed to Mr. Tom Puskas, Manager, HRIS, Benefits & Records – Ext. 2048, or by email at email@example.com.
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In case you didn’t notice the last TWO times:
It is Annual Dues time again!
It is time to send in your Annual Dues – actually, it is long passed the time. After all, we are half-way through 2022. So, if you have not yet sent in your payment, please do it before you forget again. It’s a pretty modest sum for remaining connected to your colleagues and retaining a voice in University affairs.
Please send your cheque for 2022 dues made out to WURA for $25.00 to our Treasurer:
#103, 1935 Normandy St.
LaSalle, ON N9H 1P9.
You may also make a direct deposit if you prefer through email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to save yourself some time and avoid being late next year, you may also pay for more than one year (2022 + 2023, or for 2021 + 2022 if you missed last year). And if you have forgotten your present dues status, please send an email message to email@example.com, or write to him at the above address.
We look forward to receiving your cheque!
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Auditor General Reviews Laurentian Situation
By Bruce Elman.
On February 1st, 2021, Laurentian University made a shocking announcement. The University declared that it was financially insolvent and had filed for creditor protection under the federal Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). By doing so, Laurentian became the first public University in Canada to enter into a legal procedure which was designed as a last resort for private corporate entities. As Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, noted: “By opting for creditor protection under the CCAA, Laurentian was able to bypass provisions in its collective labour agreements, allowing the administration to effectively terminate more senior employees and clear a number of long-standing union grievances.” The Auditor General noted the immediate repercussions: “Laurentian eliminated 36% of its programs, affecting the academic and career plans of an estimated 932 students. It also terminated 195 staff and faculty with little notice and severance.”
Therefore, Laurentian’s action affected, directly, the Faculty and Staff who worked at the institution, and their families, as well as the students who attended the University and their families. The action also affected retirees and their families. The impact, of course, did not stop there – Laurentian is key contributor to the social, economic, and artistic life of Sudbury and the surrounding communities in Northern Ontario. They, too, were negatively affected by Laurentian’s actions. It was not surprising, then, that the Standing Committee on Public Accounts of the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed a motion on April 28th, 2021 requesting that the Auditor General conduct a special audit on Laurentian’s operations for the 2010-2020 period. The preliminary results of the audit are found in a Report entitled “Preliminary Perspective on Laurentian University” which can be accessed at https://www.auditor.on.ca/en/content/specialreports/specialreports/Laurentian-U_Preliminary_Perspective_en.pdf.
The Auditor General focused her Report on two key questions: First, “how did an Ontario university that is significantly taxpayer-funded and accountable to the public end up in a dire financial position? And, second, was its use of the CCAA an appropriate response?
At the outset, the Auditor General noted that, in spite of expectations of transparency and accountability, “the President and Board of Governors, guided by external legal counsel, implemented unprecedented restrictions on our access to Laurentian’s information. The senior administrators put in place protocols that discouraged staff from speaking freely with us or providing our Office with unfettered access to documents and information without fear of reprimand. . . what’s more, our Office faced an unprecedented legal pushback from Laurentian, including a challenge to the Auditor General Act. The University also resisted voluntarily complying with Speaker’s Warrants, issued by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in December 2021, compelling the release of information requested by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.”
Nonetheless, the audit took place. Based upon the information gathered up to that point in time, the Auditor General made the following preliminary findings (What follows is an abridged version of those findings):
1. Although external factors such as tuition freezes and the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Laurentian, we determined that the primary cause of the university’s financial deterioration from 2010 to 2020 was its pursuit of poorly considered capital investments.
2. This poor management was allowed to continue in large part because of weak oversight by Laurentian’s Board. . . For its part, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, which is the primary government ministry responsible for monitoring the financial health of post-secondary institutions, did not proactively intervene in a timely manner to provide guidance to help Laurentian slow—or ultimately respond to—its worsening financial deterioration.
3. We believe Laurentian did not have to file for CCAA protection; it strategically planned and chose to take steps to file for creditor protection in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on February 1st, 2021. . . . the University did not follow the normal broader public sector precedent by making comprehensive and clear efforts to seek financial assistance from the Ministry.
4. Nearly a year before Laurentian filed for CCAA protection, it had engaged lawyers and other consultants to explore strategic options, but the primary focus was on filing for CCAA protection. We believe that Laurentian’s actions in this regard were significantly influenced by these external parties. As of March 3rd, 2022, the University had incurred legal and other financial consultant fees associated with its insolvency of more than $24 million.
5. The University’s contract with the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) contains a financial exigency clause, designed to deal with dire financial circumstances. Triggering this clause — which is in most University - Faculty labour contracts in Canada – would have required senior administration to work in partnership with LUFA to address Laurentian’s financial situation. In 2020, LUFA requested that Laurentian’s senior administration trigger this clause and provide it with additional information on the University’s finances. Laurentian’s senior management intentionally delayed providing information and did not trigger the clause. Instead, senior administration, with Board approval, chose to use CCAA protection, starting a process that diverted more money to external advisors through professional fees, was less transparent, and likely has had, and will continue to have, a greater impact on students, faculty, the community of Sudbury and the University’s reputation.
Many lessons can and should be learned from the decisions and actions taken by Laurentian’s Administration in these circumstances. Let us hope that this is the last time that a Canadian University finds itself in such dire financial straits that it contemplates using the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) -- a mechanism which was never intended to be used in such circumstances and is poorly designed for instances involving essential public institutions such as our Universities.
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