Below are questions and answers related to a number of issues that impact AUFA members as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please return here for updates as the situation continues to evolve, and contact AUFA (using the form below) if you have any other questions.
Travel and Professional Allowance Fund (19 February 2021)
What happens to the Travel and Professional Allowances on April 1, 2021?
- Any unspent amount from fiscal years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 that was carried forward on March 2020 will go back to the University account. Members won’t be able to claim expenses against those funds past March 31, 2021.
- Normally, unspent amount from the previous fiscal year can be carried forward into the next fiscal year
- In the last year of the Collective Agreement, any unspent amount from the previous fiscal year has generally been carried over to the following fiscal year
- If past practice is maintained, then any unspent amount from the amount granted on April 1, 2020 will be carried over to April 1, 2021. Otherwise, any unspent money in the account will go back to the University account.
How has the pandemic affected the use of these funds?
- Restriction on travel and people gathering has resulted in the cancellation of most of the professional activities for which many of these funds were normally used.
- In the MoA signed on March 18, 2020 to deal with necessary changes in deadlines and procedures in the Collective Agreement as a result of the COVID-19 Outbreak, the carry forward period for PD Funds was extended.
- According to the MoA, unspent funds carried over from fiscal year 2018-2019 into fiscal year 2019-2020 may be carried forward to March 31, 2021; and unspent funds from fiscal year 2019-2020 may be carried forward to March 31, 2021.
- At the time, AUFA and the administration agreed that the pandemic had severely limited the ability of faculty members to use the funds.
Many of the restrictions are still in place worldwide; would there be further carry forward of funds past March 31, 2021?
- AUFA has proposed an extension on the unspent PD funds under the premise that the restrictions that caused the first extension are still in place.
- The administration responded saying that they do not see a need for the extension.
What are these funds and how can they be used?
- The amounts for Travel and Professional Allowances, also known as Professional Development Funds or PD Funds, are listed in article 54.
- PD Funds are to be used in a manner consistent with the Academic Responsibilities described in articles01–17.05.
- Eligible expenses include those of the Tri-council policy as well as other expenses, approved by the Head, related to the Employee’s responsibilities outlined in Article 17.
- Other expenses include, but are not limited to: membership dues, professional development courses/conferences, equipment, books, journal subscriptions, or other academic material, as listed in article 57a.
Enrollment numbers at Acadia (19 February 2021)
What do we know about enrollment numbers for 2020-2021? (19 February 2021)
- Acadia Administration expressed concerns around the sudden enrollment drop projected under a range of scenarios considered for the 2020-2021 academic year.
- The Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) conducts the Survey of Preliminary Enrollments (normally by October 1st) on an annual basis to track the university enrollments in Atlantic Canada.
- Given the late start to the semester, it was not until November that we got a clear picture of the enrollment patterns of the Universities in Atlantic Canada.
- The total full-time enrollment in the University is reported to be 3,702 (3,533 Undergraduate and 169 Graduate) as of October 1st, 2020.
How does the 2020-2021 enrollment compare to that of previous years? (19 February 2021)
- In 2019, the total full-time enrollment was reported as 3,804 instead. The reduction of 102 full-time students between 2019 and 2020 represents a 2.71% decline in 2020 relative to 2019).
- However, this slight decline is in part because 2019 is associated with the third highest enrollment figure within the last decade.
- The five- and ten-year full-time enrollment averages at Acadia are calculated to be 3,760 (shown as a dashed red line on the figure) and 3,734 respectively.
- The decline in 2020 enrollment relative to these averages can be calculated as 1.54% and 0.86% which are smaller than that of the 2019 comparison.
- Full-time enrollment at Acadia has been quite stable in the recent (i.e., last 5-year) period.
CLT Hiring “Chill” FAQ (Updated 19 February 2021)
What are CLTs and why are they necessary?
- Contractually Limited Term (CLT) positions are full-time or half-time positions of varying lengths (up to 36 months) that are used to replace faculty on leave or to provide flexibility in the delivery of academic programs.
- The 15th Collective Agreement stipulates that the number of professorial CLT positions at Acadia for the duration of the contract shall be no less than 20 (10.08.1).
- CLTs are expected to engage in teaching, research, and service activity during their contract.
- Many departments on campus depend on CLTs to teach essential, core classes, and the pedagogical, research and service work that CLTs engage in have become essential to the health and culture of some departments and programs due to the non-replacement of tenure-track positions.
What’s going on with CLT hiring at Acadia for 2020-2021? (Updated 19 February 2021)
- CLT positions for 2020-2021 have been authorized and recommendations for hire have been completed after following all of the procedures in Articles 10, 43 and 50.
- The VPA–who has the authority to approve such positions–has yet to sign off on most of those hiring recommendations
- On April 30, 2020, Chris Callbeck (Acadia CFO) confirmed that a “hiring chill” had been imposed, meaning that–due to current uncertainties in fall term enrolment–pauses were being implemented in hiring processes to determine whether or not such hirings would take place.
- On June 1, 2020, President Ricketts sent an email which stated that “”We have curtailed all non-essential spending until further notice.” While the VPA clarified that CLTs were not included in this “non-essential spending” category during one of the recent Town Hall discussions, the “hiring chill” and its relation to budgeting concerns suggests otherwise.
- The 15th Collective Agreement stipulates that the number of professorial CLT positions at Acadia for the duration of the contract should be no less than 20 (10.08.1).
- Currently there are only 11 CLTPs (permanent CLT positions) in place, meaning that 9 positions are still required to meet the terms of Article 10.08.
- On June 24, 2020, we learned that the ‘chilled’ CLTs will be offered 5-month contracts, which is in the great majority of cases significantly shorter than the positions advertised. We are seeking legal advice as to whether this change in the terms of the offers is allowed under the Collective Agreement.
- (July 24 Update) During the week of July 6, CLT positions that were authorized previously were approved and contracts have now been offered.
- Additional CLT positions are 5 month, with the possibility of an extension to the originally posted term (9.5 or 12 month) upon review by the VPA in November.
- (Feb 19 update)
- 7 CLT positions were offered 5-month contracts for the Fall of 2020.
- 1 of the initial 5-month CLT positions was extended to a full year contract
- 5 of the initial 5-month CLT positions were extended to 9.5-month contract
- 1 person took a different 4.5-month contract switching from Instructor to Assistant Professor CLT
How has/will this CLT “hiring chill” affect AUFA members?
- CLT employees are members of AUFA, and several of the six “chilled” positions are current members. Some were already told by their unit Head that they have been recommended for the position.
- While CLT positions are never guaranteed until a contract is issued and signed, a number of potential CLT hires are now in limbo regarding their employment status for the fall. The collective agreement states (10.08) that CLT appointments begin on August 1 for 9.5-month and 5-month terms (and a month before classes start for other terms), waiting that long to confirm employment leaves these AUFA members
- at a significant disadvantage regarding preparation time for teaching fall courses
- in a situation of greater employment precarity and uncertainty than they already experience as contractually limited appointments. Some members need to make relocation decisions based on these positions
- A significant number of departments are still in a situation where they are unable to plan for the upcoming year because of uncertainties about the filling of essential teaching positions that deliver core aspects of their curriculum
- There are academic units on this campus that are at a high risk of becoming unable to deliver their programs as presented in the Academic Calendar because of inadequate faculty resourcing related to the CLT “hiring chill”.
- Many classes that these approved CLTs would be teaching in fall 2020-2021 are already full with enrolled students and waiting lists.
- This chill presents a real crisis for academic units that depend on CLTs, and will create problems that go well beyond the short-term need for budgetary assessment relating to COVID-19 impacts.
But won’t the “hiring chill” save money in these uncertain times?
- There are many ways to save money. Freezing essential teaching, research and service positions while still committing millions of dollars to deferred maintenance (for example) is a clear sign that the current pandemic spending and saving budget is problematic and needs some essential reworking. More specifically, imposing a “hiring chill” on already authorized positions:
- violates the 15th Collective Agreement (which requires at least 9 professorial CLT hires this year),
- puts some academic programs into significant jeopardy,
- weakens Acadia’s academic offerings overall,
- will result in the cancellation of many courses in which students have already registered,
- and thoughtlessly disrupts the lives of a number of people who have dedicated or were planning to dedicate their time to this institution, even if only in a limited contract capacity.
- When planning for the future of this institution, instead of diminishing the numbers and salaries of the workers who give Acadia students their education, it would be prudent to preserve and strengthen the integrity of the academic experience at the heart of the “Acadia Experience.”
- The delay in approving the positions adds to the anxiety of individuals and departments but will not save money, as the contracts still have to be paid, regardless of when they are approved and signed.
Administration, SEIU and AUPAT Salary impacts: furlough days and cost of living (Updated August 18)
What action did AUFA take regarding the salary impacts?
AUFA created a Memorandum of Understanding (first discussed on June 12th, presented to the Administration on July 10th, and officially received by them on July 17th) that would allow members to take immediate leaves (leaves of absence without pay, sabbatical leaves, early retirement and phased-in retirement). After discussing the proposal on July 24, Administration announced on July 30th that it refused to sign, so we are unable to present these options to our membership.
Since mid-March, 5 AUFA members have resigned, retired, or are taking a leave of absence without pay. The total salary savings is approximately $390K. These positions have not been filled. In addition, Acadia has not hired the lecteurs/lectrices/PADs in the language department saving an additional ~156K in full-time salaries.
Some of these positions have just recently been advertised. If all 27 of these courses were filled by part-time employees, the cost to the university would be ~$171K which would leave the university with a savings of ~$375K for the year (leaving a shortfall in complement).
Does AUFA know how much the Administration, SEIU and AUPAT salary reductions will save Acadia?
AUFA has directly asked administration in writing for this information on July 30th and has yet to receive a reply.
Can AUFA estimate the Administration, SEIU and AUPAT salary savings?
AUFA receives data (Article 28.10) every October so the AUFA estimates presented below are based on data given to us in October 2019.
In conversations with SEIU, we have discovered that Acadia only reported on 51 SEIU members’ salaries and SEIU has approximately 90 members.
For AUPAT, administration reports on salary ranges for 102 AUPAT members, so the calculations are based on average salaries.
In the past, Acadia has provided the salaries for the top 28 administrators who were not on administrative leave. In October 2019, they only provided the salary for 14 academic administrators.
To provide a more accurate picture of the administration’s salaries, AUFA has referenced the NS Public Compensation Disclosure report of salaries over $100K as of March 2019. AUFA requested a copy of the March 2020 data. Neither administration nor the government have released the March 2020 data.
What are the Cost of Living salary impacts for administration and AUPAT?
Our estimate for the Cost of Living salary impacts is ~$149K, ~$86K for 102 AUPAT members, ~$28K for 14 academic administrators, and ~$35K for 15 other administrators.
What are the furlough salary impacts?
According to workingdays.ca, there are 253 working days in Nova Scotia. The 6 furlough days would constitute a 2.4% annual salary decrease.
In Acadia’s communications, they have indicated that the impact is 4.3% over the 6.5 months from September 6, 2020 and ending with the pay date of March 25, 2021.
We have estimated the impact using the data that AUFA was given by administration in October 2019 and the NS Public Disclosure data of March 2019.
Our estimate for the furlough days salary impact is ~$288K – ~$44K for 14 Academic Administrators, $55K for 15 other administrators, $54K for 51 SEIU members and $135K for 102 AUPAT members.
But I thought that the budget shortfall was $6.8M? These initiatives total a maximum of around $438K.
Yes, AUFA was told that the budget shortfall was $6.8M.
In their mitigation plan in the June budget, administration budgeted for $1.5M in salary reductions, roughly 4% of the total salary budget.
AUFA has asked why Acadia isn’t looking at other options which do not impact Acadia’s human resources (like reducing its $10M deferred maintenance budget or unrestricting some of the $9M in internally restricted funds that were reporting in the 2019 financial statements or renegotiating its loans with the banks).
AUFA is still awaiting a reply from Administration with regard to these suggestions.
Why hasn’t a vote been brought forward to the membership regarding proposals from the Administration to reduce AUFA members’ salaries? (Updated Aug. 18)
- The proposals brought forward to the AUFA Executive by the Administration to date require opening our current Collective Agreement.
- Agreeing to such requests will change the conditions of every AUFA member’s employment and therefore open our Collective Agreement.
- The AUFA Executive has unanimously decided against calling a vote on the Administration’s proposals based on the negative precedent set by opening the 15th CA and the negative ramifications it would have for future negotiations.
Are the Admin's proposals to AUFA equivalent to those regularly signed as Memoranda of Agreement? (Updated Aug. 18)
- Proposals that change compensation of all AUFA employees modify the terms of the Collective Agreement and would not be considered as a regular Memorandum of Agreement (MoA)
- Memoranda of Agreement remove ambiguities and provide clarity to ensure that the intentions of both Parties, the Administration and AUFA, are carried into effect during the life of the Collective Agreement.
- Memoranda of Agreement do not add or in any way modify the terms of the Collective Agreement
If the AUFA Exec is so opposed to the Admin’s asks, why set up a fund for members to donate to? Doesn’t this open the Collective Agreement as well? (Updated Aug. 18)
- No. Setting up such an opportunity does not violate the terms of the Collective Agreement. Instead, it provides individuals who can and want to mitigate the effects of Admin cuts to other Acadia employee groups with the means to do so.
- In the spirit of equity, and to preserve the strength and validity of our Collective Agreement, the AUFA Executive is opposed to universally imposed cuts to its members’ negotiated incomes, as not all AUFA members would be impacted equally by such cuts. However, as is always the case, individuals can choose to donate money to Acadia anytime.
- This fund was set up with the understanding that donations will be directed to the University’s greatest needs in responding to COVID-19 by lessening the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable non-AUFA employee groups.
- AUFA members can opt to give a one-time donation, or sign up for recurring donations or paycheque deductions. For those who choose to donate, we would recommend a monthly donation. This spreads out the donation over the year and allows you to change your donation should circumstances change.
Has AUFA considered sending out a survey to the membership to learn more about their position on salary impacts? (Updated Aug. 18)
- The Executive has continuously consulted with the membership each time a proposal has been brought forward by the Administration. At the moment, AUFA does not have feasible proposal options that could be sent as a survey to the membership.
What can I do?
AUFA has set up a charitable donation fund called the AUFA COVID response fund (see more information below) which allows AUFA members to make donations to offset the furlough salary decreases to SEIU and AUPAT.
If every full-time member of AUFA gave $250 to the fund, every SEIU and AUPAT member may be able to receive 1 day back of furlough.
If every full-time AUFA member donated $1,500, SEIU and AUPAT may not have to take any furlough days. Spread over the 8 months from August – March, this would be a deduction of $187.50 from each pay cheque.
These donations would not solve the predicted $6.8M deficit but it may save Acadia’s support staff the financial hardships being imposed by administration.
What else should I know about people in vulnerable positions?
As of July 24th, Acadia had 24 fewer full year courses and 54 fewer fall courses on its schedule in 2020 than it did in 2019.
On August 4, 8 per-course positions were being advertised on the Acadia Human Resources website: 4 for the Faculty of Arts and 4 for the Faculty of Professional Studies.
Since most full-time faculty have been assigned their course sections, this means that as of July 24th there are 98 course sections in the fall that may not be filled (note that this may change as hiring is still on-going even though it should have been completed by July 15th).
Speaking of people in vulnerable positions, a number of our part-time faculty may be facing $0 salary.
AUFA COVID Response Fund (Updated August 3)
What is the AUFA COVID Response Fund?
The AUFA COVID Response Fund is a new Acadia charitable fund. Gifts donated to the fund will be directed to the University’s greatest needs in responding to COVID-19 by lessening the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable non-AUFA employee groups.
Why have a new fund?
This is an AUFA initiative and only AUFA members can contribute to the fund. This allows the University to use the fund to support other non-AUFA employees while respecting CRA rules for charitable gifts.
How will the fund activities be reported?
The proceeds will be listed as a free-standing item in Acadia’s schedule of mitigation actions and impacts. AUFA will ask for regular updates on how the funds have been used. AUFA will receive reports on the total gifts received and number of faculty donors, but no information about individual donations.
How do you participate?
AUFA members can opt to give a one-time donation, or sign up for recurring donations or paycheque deductions. We would recommend a monthly donation. This spreads out the donation over the year and allows you to change your donation should circumstances change.
To make a donation as a payroll deduction, you need to complete the form available at: https://www2.acadiau.ca/files/files/Files%20~%20Development/FacultyStaffGiftForm2018.pdf .
Completed forms can be scanned and sent to Cassie Tremain at email@example.com.
If you do not wish to give by payroll deduction, you can donate through the on-line donations page:
Potential changes to compensation FAQ (Updated July 30)
Have employee groups on campus other than AUFA been asked about making financial sacrifices? (Updated July 30)
- Yes, other groups on campus received requests to forgo cost of living adjustments to their salaries.
- SEIU took a membership vote where 94% of the membership rejected the proposal.
- As a non-unionized employee group, the request was not put to a vote of AUPAT membership.
- (July 27 Update) On July 24th, the administration announced that senior administrators would be taking a 6 days of unpaid furlough.
- (July 30 Update) On July 29, via an email from the University President to the campus community, it was announced that “the six-day unpaid furlough will be extended to all SEIU and non-unionized employees.” He added that “The impact of the six-day unpaid furlough represents an approximate 4.3 per cent gross reduction per pay period during the six months this mitigation initiative will be in place.”
- As of Thursday, July 30, AUFA has not received a similar official request from the University Administration.
- AUFA is currently working with the Advancement office to set up the means by which AUFA members can individually donate money that will be directed towards mitigating the effects of the Administration’s pay cuts to other Employee groups on campus.
- AUFA has asked the administration for detailed financial and budget numbers that justify the salary reductions that they have requested. As of July 30, we have not received any answers to these questions. These budget questions can be found here.
How is the compensation of AUFA members determined?
Has the administration reached out to AUFA executive to request changes in members' remuneration?
Yes, the Provost & Vice-President Academic reached out to AUFA executive to forgo the cost of living adjustment for this year.
How would this proposal change the compensation of AUFA members?
- In practical terms, this would mean that step increases will still take effect, but salaries would be calculated using the July 2019 – June 2020 salary grids.
- The negotiated 1.4% grid increase reflected in the corresponding July 2020 – June 2021 salary grid would not take effect for the last year of the 15th collective agreement.
- There was no mention in the proposal about what would happen after the year was up.
How did the AUFA executive respond to this request? (Updated July 27--Also see above related questions from Aug 18 update)
- AUFA executive did not sign the request and informed the administration that such request would require a membership vote.
- The executive also requested more detailed financial information and expressed willingness to discuss financial voluntary measures once the information is received.
- (June 30 update) On 25 June 2020, we received a response from the VPA to some of our questions regarding financial information. That letter can be accessed here.
- (June 30 update) We have followed up by asking for a copy of the actual budget approved by Acadia’s Board of Governors and are waiting for a response.
- Based on advice from legal counsel, AUFA executive’s position is firm that ANY decisions impacting members’ remuneration must be discussed and voted on by members.
- (July 24 Update) On July 3, the executive received from the VPA/Provost the budget summary that was presented to the Board of Governors. At that July 3 meeting, we were told this was not a public document, so could not be shared without Board permission. We asked if permission could be sought from the Board to share the document with AUFA members and were told “no.” The AUFA executive determined that, even with the information in the budget summary there was not enough evidence to support the Board’s compensation request.
- Even though the AUFA executive didn’t endorse the BoG request, we thought it was important to bring it to the members. On Tuesday, 14 July, the AUFA executive held a meeting with the membership to discuss the Administration’s request to forego the cost of living adjustment,
- Based on that meeting and discussion, along with subsequent written feedback from members, the AUFA executive determined that there was not enough support from the membership or detailed budget information to proceed with a vote on this matter.
- (July 27 Update) We have presented the administration with an MOA that would extend the deadlines for decisions around sabbaticals, leaves and retirement.
- These extensions would allow faculty the option of choosing to take a sabbatical, leave, retirement before the start of classes in September.
- The administration is hesitant to sign this MOA, citing a lack of interest in these options.
- Members who are interested in taking one of these options should contact AUFA.
- They should also contact their unit head/director to discuss the implications of taking a leave.
Acadia and a Mixed Delivery Model for Teaching FAQ (Updated July 24)
What model for fall 2020 teaching has been passed by the senate? (Updated July 24)
On June 15th, 2020, the Acadia University Academic Senate passed the following motion:
Motion that Senate endorses a mixed delivery model for the 2020-2021 academic year. Acadia courses will, at the discretion of faculty, occur in virtual, face-to face/on-campus, or blended format, using either synchronous or asynchronous delivery, subject to the most rigourous interpretation of provincial health and safety regulations. Moved by Dale Keefe, seconded by Ann Vibert.
(July 24 Update) A new Fall 2020-2021 timetable was implemented on Tuesday July 14. The VPA’s message to faculty regarding the new timetable included the following updates: “The course timetable now reflects the Fall/Winter 2020 course format delivery methods. Timetable changes have also been made to facilitate structured entry and exit practices and accommodate necessary cleaning protocols between classes. Please familiarize yourself with the changes to your courses and timetable to tailor your learning experience to your circumstance and needs.”
What does this Teaching Model mean for AUFA members?
This means that AUFA members can individually determine how they plan to teach in the fall. This decision might be informed by conversations had at the departmental/school/unit level, but each faculty member has the right to determine for themselves how they will deliver their courses.
I’m concerned about the safety and capacity of the classroom that has been assigned for my course. What can I do? (Updated July 24)
The current classroom assignments for fall courses will severely restrict the type of face-to-face classroom activities that can occur. Faculty need to plan accordingly, and/or ask for new classrooms by contacting the Registrar’s Office.
How do I get help with moving my course(s) online?
If I feel pressure to come to campus to teach, what can I do?
The Senate motion states that this choice is “at the discretion of faculty.” This means that if you consider coming on campus to teach to be unsafe for you or pedagogically unsound for your courses, then you are not required to do so. Should you feel pressure to do so, we recommend that you contact a member of the AUFA Grievance Committee, or the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee.
What role does my department/school/unit have in determining which courses should/should not be taught in-person?
The Senate motion stipulates that individual faculty have control over this decision. You are empowered by this motion to make this choice yourself. AUFA will support your right to choose for your own circumstances.
Has the administration released details of its modelling and assumptions concerning the number of students who will arrive on campus in September? (updated 2 july)
On June 11, the AUFA Executive asked the Administration for more details of its financial modelling and assumptions concerning the students arriving on campus in September.
On June 25, the Vice-President (Academic) and Provost provided the following estimates: “Undergrad enrolment 3,097 average of two terms (2,729 average domestic, 368 average international). The most likely scenario assumes that we have a mix of on-campus, blended and remote offerings, that approximately 1,100 students will stay in residence, approximately 1,700 will stay off-campus (approximately 2,800 in person), there will be 100 new international students studying remotely, and 250 returning international students (mostly in person). The assumption is that there will be 3,150 students in the fall and 3,050 in the winter (approximately 3,100 average for the two terms).”
Return to Campus Plans FAQ (Updated July 30)
What protocols have been put in place for accessing campus during the summer and returning to campus in the fall? (updated july 23)
The guidelines for employees can be found here:
and the Campus Reopening Framework is here:
Is AUFA doing anything else to ensure members' safety and rights? (Updated July 30)
- (July 27 Update) We have presented the administration with MOA regarding working conditions, per course contracts, health protocols, etc.
- This MOA protects the faculty’s right to choose the mode of delivery for their courses, to protect precedence, and ensure faculty safety.
- (July 30 Update) On July 30, the University Administration felt it was not necessary to sign our proposed MOA on working conditions, leaves, etc. AUFA will continue to push this request, as it is absolutely necessary to sign an MOA on working conditions since the new working conditions contradict what is stated in the 15th Collective Agreement.
COVID-19 and the Academic Workplace: FAQ
Still have questions? Please contact us!
The Communications Committee, under the direction of the AUFA Executive, takes responsibility for the contents of the Pandemic FAQ. We encourage your contributions (letters, articles, article summaries, and other pertinent information). Anonymous material will not be considered for publication; however, under special circumstances, the AUFA Communication Committee may agree to withhold the author’s name. The Communications Committee retains the right to edit and/or reject contributed material.