Please see below a message from OCUFA President Constance Adamson regarding the Liberal leadership outcome and what to expect moving forward.
Policy Analyst – Government and Community Relations
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
83 Yonge Street, Suite 300
Toronto, ON M5C 1S8
Office: 416-979-2117 x 223 | Mobile: 416-671-3230
Liberal Leadership – Results and Next Steps
Kathleen Wynne was elected leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario on the third ballot at the Liberal leadership convention on Saturday, Janurary 26. She defeated the perceived front-runner, Sandra Pupatello, by winning the support of leadership opponents Eric Hoskins (St. Paul’s), Charles Sousa (Mississauga South) and Gerrard Kennedy (no seat).
This message is intended to provide our members with a sense of what to expect – both in terms of process and policy – with Kathleen Wynne as Premier.
Kathleen Wynne committed throughout the leadership campaign to bring the legislature back as soon as possible. She also positioned herself as the candidate most willing and best positioned to work with the opposition parties in order to continue to govern in the minority parliament and prevent an immediate election.
The earliest the legislature can come back is Tuesday, February 19.
The first order of business for the new government will be to deliver a Speech from the Throne that will outline (in very broad terms) their legislative agenda and priorities for governing. The Throne Speech is a confidence question that could potentially defeat the government, but that is an unlikely outcome. The only time in Ontario’s history that a government has been defeated following debate on the Throne Speech was in 1985 when the Progressive Conservatives formed a minority government. An election was not triggered because the Liberals and NDP agreed to govern under an Accord.
After the Throne Speech, the government will need to present a Budget. If the Liberals can secure the support of one of the opposition parties by including some key budget measures that the opposition parties want to see included, then the Budget (another key confidence question) will pass and the Liberals, under Kathleen Wynne, will continue to govern.
At this point, it is still early to determine if Kathleen Wynne will be able to secure the support of one of the opposition parties, but a Spring election is certainly not an inevitable outcome at this stage.
OCUFA met with Kathleen Wynne in December to discuss the three major provincial issues that are affecting faculty right now: Collective bargaining, pensions and the transformational change agenda set by former Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Glen Murray. She also completed OCUFA’s Liberal leadership candidates’ questionnaire on the same topics. Below is an overview of what we heard from her.
– In the meeting with OCUFA, Kathleen Wynne indicated that she did not intend to introduce the proposed Protecting Public Services Act that had been floated in the fall and would have vastly restricted the collective bargaining rights of all broader public sector workers in Ontario.
– While she indicated that she did not want to introduce legislation that would interfere with collective bargaining, Wynne was clear that wage settlements in the broader public sector – including university faculty – needed to include zero per cent increases. As an end goal, there is not likely to be any change from the previous government’s position when it comes to the need for zeroes. What might change is the tools this new government will use to achieve that goal.
– In her response to the OCUFA Liberal leadership candidates’ questionnaire Wynne indicated that she is committed to finding a collective bargaining process that is fair and sustainable, but that also takes into account the realities of the current fiscal situation.
– In the December meeting with Wynne, OCUFA indicated that funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities had been committed to conduct a research project investigating options to improve the sustainability of university pension plans and we would like to be able to conclude that project before decisions about the Morneau asset pooling initiative were made. Kathleen Wynne seemed open to this proposal.
– In her response to the OCUFA Liberal leadership candidates’ questionnaire Wynne indicated a broad commitment to ensuring the sustainability of defined benefit public pensions and an openness to further discussions with OCUFA on this matter.
Higher Education Reform
– In her response to the OCUFA Liberal leadership candidates’ questionnaire Wynne provided an overview of her higher education platform, which included proposals that ranged from support for graduate education and scholarships for students who demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit to better labour market preparation and flexibility and mobility within the system. The commitment to “Sustainable and predictable funding that reflects the real needs across the sector” was promising, but vague.