RESPONSE LETTER from QUEEN’S to WORKERS
SENT VIA EMAIL to Unity Council Delegates on June 20, 2023 at 10:03am
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Thank you for your June 16 letter. Consistent with previous communications to our unions, there is enormous complexity associated with Bill 124 and our negotiated wages. By way of example, if the declaration of constitutional invalidity is upheld on appeal, there will be a remedy phase where monetary damages may be ordered to the unions. Additionally, we are not aware of any other university in Ontario that is contemplating opening their collective agreements unless they have wage opener language.
As we were working through these complexities, the university announced that its budget for fiscal year 2023-24 projects a $62.8M operating deficit. As noted, when the deficit was announced, the impact of the provincial government’s 10 percent tuition cut for Ontario students in 2019, and subsequent tuition freeze, has cost the university $179.4 million to date. The university’s use of its reserves has helped to mitigate the worst impacts of the tuition cut; however, our ongoing reliance on the university’s reserves is not sustainable. The university has introduced a temporary hiring freeze and is actively considering other mitigation measures to address the operating budget challenges. With this as context, the University has advised our unions that it needs to see the impact of the cost containment and revenue generating measures aimed at controlling the $62.8 million deficit before making a final decision on Bill 124 and wages.
While we cannot speculate on the ultimate disposition of the legal challenge, it is important to recognize that while the provincial government conducts their appeal of Bill 124, no additional funding has been forthcoming from the provincial government because of the 2022 Superior Court decision.
We must continue to exercise prudent fiscal management based on our current fiscal realities and operate within our means. We remain hopeful that through ongoing efforts, we can return to sustainable budgets and look forward to an expansion of support and funding from government in the future.
We want to assure our staff and faculty that the University values their contributions. We will continue to monitor the court challenge and address the budget deficit. We remain committed to working with our unions as further information is available.
Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)
74 University Avenue, 353 Richardson Hall
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6
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