MUFA Proposes Expansion of the Teaching Stream

MUFA Proposes Expansion of the Teaching Stream

In 2007, after a lengthy period of discussion, consultation and policy development, the Teaching Stream was created at McMaster University.  This was in large part intended to replace the practice of annual renewals of long-term Contractually Limited Appointments (CLAs) with permanent positions, acknowledging the important role played by teaching-focused faculty.  At the time, there were 583 faculty in the Tenure Stream and 97 CLAs (14.3% of total faculty) in the five Faculties outside of the Faculty of Health Sciences1.  By agreement between MUFA and the Administration, 51 Teaching Stream positions (8.75% of the Tenure Stream) were created across the five Faculties.  It was agreed and formalized in SPS A9 that future Teaching Stream allocations be made by mutual agreement between MUFA and the Administration.  Many CLAs were converted to the Teaching Stream and a limit of six years was placed on the total duration a CLA could be held by an individual.  Any new Teaching Stream hires would not be by conversion, but only by the usual process of open searches.

Since 2007, the Teaching Stream has expanded as anticipated.  The proportion in the Tenure Stream has modestly decreased and the proportion of CLAs has decreased and now stabilized at ~8% of total faculty, as illustrated below.  Despite the short term intent of the CLA position many appointments still run for a total of six years and some faculty and administrators mistakenly believe that these positions can be converted to Teaching Stream positions.  Over the last 10 years, disturbingly, the number of total faculty (and Tenure Stream faculty) has remained essentially unchanged despite the increase in overall student enrolment by 23%.  Varying growth and contraction amongst the five Faculties means that the initial allocation of Teaching Stream positions is no longer well matched to the Faculty demographics.

MUFA represents2 Tenure Stream faculty, Teaching Stream faculty and CLAs and believes that the University and our members would be better served by a proportional approach to the distribution of faculty appointments.  We believe that it is essential to maintain a minimum proportion of Tenure Stream faculty to maintain the excellence of our research-focused student-centred university.  In this, we are guided by the Report of the Joint Committee Sub-Committee to Review Issues Relating to Contractually Limited Appointments, approved by the Senate and the Board of Governors in 2006, which states:

By recommending the introduction of Teaching Professors we are not recommending that the University gradually move away from regular tenure appointments. There should be some limit placed on the use of non-tenured appointments at the Faculty level. In particular, we recommend that the proportion of tenured and tenure stream faculty within the complement of full-time equivalent faculty should not shrink from current levels.

We strongly support an expansion of the proportion of Teaching Stream faculty from the levels set in 2007, acknowledging their important role in teaching and pedagogy at McMaster.  CLAs, on the other hand, are intended to fill short term teaching needs.  Their defining characteristic – precarity – runs counter to a university committed to the aspirational values of Forward with Integrity.  We proposed in 2012 and again recently in 2016 a proportional approach to the distribution of faculty appointments, allowing for the (hopeful) growth of the faculty complement.  This would provide the Deans greater flexibility to plan accordingly.

Our proposal would lead to a significant expansion of the Teaching Stream for all five Faculties and also help to stimulate a thoughtful discussion about the diverse roles of that stream in the University following the 2014 Report from the Committee To Review Policies And Procedures Surrounding The Appointment Category Of Teaching-Stream Faculty.  Though both of our proposals in 2012 and 2016 were rejected, MUFA will continue to advocate for an expansion of the Teaching Stream, along with a simple formulaic approach to allocate the proportions of Tenure Stream, Teaching Stream and CLA faculty.


1The Teaching Stream in the Faculty of Health Sciences is not governed by SPS A9 and there is no limit to the number of Teaching Stream faculty.  MUFA has no role in Teaching Stream allocations in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

2Additional teaching is also provided by Sessional Faculty, who are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3906, Unit 2, and as such are not under the purview of MUFA.

Data is from the IRA database, for October 1st of the year shown.

MUFA General Meeting

MUFA General Meeting

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
9:30 a.m.
Council Chambers
(Gilmour Hall, Room 111)


The General Meeting of the McMaster University Faculty Association will be
held on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017 in the Council Chambers,
Gilmour Hall, Room 111.

You can obtain the meeting package by clicking on the link below:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Revisions to Research Leave Policies SPS C1 and SPS C2

Revisions to Research Leave Policies SPS C1 and SPS C2

On October 12 and 20, 2016 both McMaster’s Senate and Board of Governors approved the revisions to policies governing research leave for both tenure/CAWAR faculty and permanent faculty.   The new versions of the policies can be found here: and


Teaching Staff Members of BOG, Senate and Undergraduate Planning Committee

Teaching Staff Members of Board of Governors, Senate
and Undergraduate Planning Committee


Board of Governors Members Elected by Teaching Staff 2016-2017

Rafael Kleiman, Faculty of Engineering, kleiman
Robert Pelton, Faculty of Engineering, petlonrh
Del Harnish, Faculty of Health Sciences, harnishd
Herb Schellhorn, Faculty of Science, schell

Teaching Staff Members of Senate, 2016-2017

Faculty of Business
Patricia Wakefield, wakefie, (2017)
Vishwanath Baba, baba (2018)
Carat Charupat, charupat, (2019)

Faculty of Health Sciences
Alison Holloway, hollow (2017)
Lehana Thabane, thabanl (2017)
Colleen McKey, mckeyc (2018)
Sheila Harms, harmssh (2018)
Brenda Vrkljan, vrkljan (2019)
Jonathan Schertzer, schertze (2019)

Faculty of Humanities
Janice Hladki, hladkij (2017)
Christine Quail, quailc (2017)
David Clark, dclark (2018)
Violettta Igneski, igneski (2018)
Catherine Anderson, canders (2019)
Michele George, georgem (2019)

Faculty of Science
Matthew Valeriote, valeriot, (2017)
Jianping Xu, jpxuc (2017)
David Earn, earn (2018)
Graeme Luke, luke (2018)
Sigal Balshine, sigal  (2019)
Ana Campos (2019)

Faculty of Engineering
Ravi Selvaganapathy, selvaga (2017)
Carlos Filipe, filipec (2018)
Spencer Smith, smiths (2019)

Faculty of Social Sciences
Bridget O’Shaughnessy, oshaubr (2017)
Dorothy Pawluch, pawluch (2017)
Shafiqul Huque, huqueas (2018)
Petra Rethamann, rethman (2018)
Philippa Carter, carterph (2019)
Meridith Griffin, griffmb (2019)

Elected MUFA Members on the University Planning Committee, 2016-2017

Tina Moffat, Faculty of Social Sciences, moffatcs (2017)
Wendy Schobilgen, Faculty of Humanities, schrobw (2017)
Juliet Daniel, Faculty of Science, danielj (2018)
Steven Hanna, Faculty of Health Sciences, hannas (2019)
Alison McQueen, Faculty of Humanities, ajmcq (2019)

The domain name for all e-mail addresses is

CAUT Dedicated Service Award Winners

CAUT Dedicated Service Award Winners

The MUFA Executive is pleased to announce that our nominees

Trevor Chamberlain
(Finance and Business Economics)

Sherman Cheung
(Finance and Business Economics)

Graeme Luke
(Physics and Astronomy)

Marc-Andre Letendre

have received the CAUT Dedicated Service Award in recognition of their exceptional service to the Faculty Association.
They deserve the thanks of the MUFA membership for their efforts on your behalf.

MUFA Service Award Winners

MUFA Award Winners

MUFA Service Award Winners

Following the Annual General Meeting, a special reception was held in honour of the recipients of the MUFA Award for Outstanding Service. The awards were presented to Jane Aronson, Rick Monture, and Sheila Sammon in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the University. The selection committee, chaired by the Past President Rafael Kleiman, included Martin Dooley (Economics), Brandon Johnston (TMG), Olga Perkovic (Library), Alex Wilson (Undergraduate Student) and Emily Heikoop (Unifor) Dr. Kleiman read the following citations on behalf of the selection committee.


Jane Aronson joined the School of Social Work in 1989. Jane’s dedication and service to the University and the Hamilton community have been significant and sustained since that time. Her service has at its core a concern with equity and the promotion of inclusive programs, policies and spaces for the University and local community.
Her formal positions within the University have included serving as the Director of the School of Social Work, in the Senate, on the Senate Executive, Senate Committee on Appointments, Board of Governors, Graduate Council, Arts Research Board, Faculty Grievance Review Panel, and various Selection Committees.
She also served as an advisor for Women’s Studies, as a member of the MUFA Status of Women Committee, on the Safer Space Committee, the McMaster Committee Against Homophobia and Heterosexism, and on the Gender Equity Implementation Committee. Most recently, Jane co-Chaired the Anti-Discrimination/Sexual Harassment Policies and Procedures Review Panel and is currently Chairing the Sexual Assault Policy Committee and Sexual Violence Response Protocol Committee. Jane has also been a member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Building an Inclusive Community (PACBIC) for over ten years, serving as its Chair for the last five years. This work has truly transformed the University and institutionalized those positive changes.
Jane was pivotal in the creation of the McMaster Community Poverty Initiative, has served as a member of the Hamilton Community Diversity Committee and since 2010 as a member of its Board. Through such external service Jane has been “an excellent ambassador for the University within the City of Hamilton”, according to President Patrick Deane.
Her accomplishments in this service undoubtedly come from her approach to the work and others involved. As noted by one of her colleagues, “Jane brings deep knowledge of the area, humour, warmth and a remarkable set of skills that allow her to keep committee members motivated, to ask challenging questions and to produce results in a timely manner.”


Rick Monture joined the Department of English & Cultural Studies and the Indigenous Studies Program in 2010. However, his affiliation with the McMaster community significantly predates that, with his undergraduate and graduate work conducted at McMaster University.
Rick was instrumental in making the case for the creation of the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster in 1992, as well as the development of partnership agreements between McMaster University and the Six Nations Polytechnic in 1993. He is currently the Academic Director of the Indigenous Studies Program and was recently successful in securing MTCU approval for McMaster’s Honours BA in Indigenous Studies.
His ongoing work to develop the Indigenous Studies Program has created safe Indigenous spaces, fostered a sense of Indigenous pride and agency at the University and enhanced McMaster’s reputation as a place of Indigenous knowledge and as an innovative centre for Indigenous scholarship and education. Rick has helped to increase diversity on campus in many ways, including the successful recruitment of new tenure-track Indigenous faculty members, which in turn has significantly increased enrollment of Indigenous graduate students. He has also served on the President’s Advisory Committee on Building an Inclusive Community (PACBIC) since 2008 and the President’s Committee on Indigenous Issues since 1993.
Rick has built bridges between communities and institutions and is noted for his ‘inter-institutional diplomacy’. His colleagues remarked on his ‘ability to establish and maintain effective and harmonious working relationships’. They also described his “tireless diplomacy, and capacity for creating and maintaining peaceful working relationships” and “his creative, diplomatic and wise work”. ‘Tireless’ is a common thread regarding Rick, since he is pulled in so many directions through the many intertwined communities he serves.


Sheila Sammon joined the School of Social Work in 1985. Sheila’s exceptional teaching has been twice recognized by receiving the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the OCUFA Teaching Award and most recently the MSU Lifetime Achievement Award. OCUFA’s Awards Committee was impressed with Sheila’s commitment to student engagement through field practice, class exercise, and by pushing the boundaries of teaching and learning. Throughout her teaching career, she has focused on integrating theory and practice with an emphasis on field placements.
Integrated with her teaching and research, a constant theme in her contributions has been engagement of the academy with the entirety of the University community and fostering engagement of the University with the City of Hamilton. She is one of the founding co-chairs of the McMaster Community Poverty Initiative and a member of the original steering committee for the McMaster Discovery Project. She was a member of the Community Engagement Task Force, one of the four working groups created to realize the vision within the President’s Forward with Integrity document. One of the key recommendations of the Task Force was the formation of the Network for Community Campus Partnerships, Chaired by Sheila, whose purpose is to provide a shared framework for McMaster to support its goals related to community engagement. Sheila was a natural appointment as the inaugural Director of Community Engagement in 2014. Sheila has championed the greater recognition of community-engaged research activities by our faculty members and the broad impact of that work.
As described by one of her colleagues, “she has developed a rich and innovative web of relationships across campus and in the community and, in setting the broad direction of the University’s activities, always poses crucial, principled questions about the purposes, benefits and ethical conduct of community engagement.” Another indicated that there is “no single person who has over the course of decades served as a more conscientious ambassador of the University to the many communities within which it is embedded”.

Judicial Review of McMaster University Tribunal

Judicial Review of McMaster University Tribunal

In September 2013, a McMaster University Board-Senate Hearing Panel issued a public report regarding its findings on complaints filed under McMaster University Anti-Discrimination Policy.  Individuals in the DeGroote School of Business had filed the complaints. The Tribunal found there were breaches of the University’s Anti-Discrimination Policy and recommended several remedies, including both individual sanctions for breaches of the Policy as well as remedies for University breaches of the Policy. The University shortly thereafter began implementing the recommended remedies. MUFA issued a statement on the Tribunal report in October 2013.

In response to some of the individual sanctions, seven faculty members applied for a judicial review of the Tribunal proceedings and recommended remedies in August 2014. In February 2015, MUFA stated its position on this review.

The judicial review process has been underway, the applicants and respondents have now filed their initial briefs, and the Divisional Court will hear the matter on April 26-28, 2016. Below are links to the primary documents filed in the review.

In addition to the primary judicial review documents linked to above, MUFA also has copies of the supporting documents (several GBs), which can be provided to our members upon request.

New Budget Model Information Session & General Meeting

MUFA Presents:

New Budget Model Information Session & General Meeting


Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
9:30 a.m.
Council Chambers
(Gilmour Hall, Room 111)


To obtain the agenda and meeting materials please click on the link below:

We hope to see you there!


MUFA Member Flash Survey Results

MUFA Member Flash Survey Results

Thank you to the 272 members who took the time (an average of 2½ minutes!) to answer our short member survey. That’s a response rate of 29.2%. In the next newsletter, we’ll have a digest of the open-ended comments. For now, we’d like to report our initial results from the other questions. A large majority of members have not contacted MUFA recently (83%), and we hope this means that our members are satisfied with their workplace and haven’t needed our help with information or advice.


Though only about 16% of respondents had contacted MUFA, about twice as many respondents (38%) visited the website. Please let us know if there is information that you think should be posted that is hard to find or not available.


Of those that have contacted the MUFA office or an Executive Committee member, most report being satisfied (59%) with the accuracy of the information received. I would encourage those who were dissatisfied with the accuracy of the information received to let me know ( how we didn’t meet your expectations.


Finally, we are interested in encouraging more of you to attend our two annual meetings (in December and April) and to be engaged with the Faculty Association in general. To this end, we asked questions about past meeting attendance and reasons for not attending. A majority of the survey respondents reported not attending a recent meeting (72%), and the most common reason for not attending was a scheduling conflict (40%). A majority of the write-in explanations for not attending referenced having too many other demands and not enough time.




Qualitative responses in member survey

The short survey included an open-ended item in which we asked members to identify an issue or concern to be brought to the attention of the MUFA leadership. There were about 130 responses to this open-ended question, and about 15% of the responses listed more than one discrete issue. Overall, there were about 143 separate substantive comments or issues raised.

I have read all the comments and grouped them under the following broad types of concerns:

  • Issues of austerity or equity impacting morale and faculty workload (33)
  • Salaries and/or benefits (30)
  • Teaching professors (18)
  • Administration (collegial governance) (11)
  • Gender equity and/or family friendly policies (11)
  • Teaching roles (6)
  • Implementation of MOSAIC (6)
  • Judicial Review related to the DeGroote School of Business (6)
  • MUFA’s advocacy in general (8-9)

Issues of austerity or equity impacting morale and faculty workload

The most common theme in the comments were concerns about faculty workload and morale, and these concerns were often either explicitly or implicitly linked to budget constraints and how budget pressures are being managed either centrally or locally.

Specifically, several members mentioned pressures to either increase class sizes, cancel classes, or increase teaching loads and the effects that such changes have both on the student experience and research productivity. Several also highlighted how these pressures were being exacerbated by deficits (in some cases made more apparent by the New Budget Model) in particular Faculties. Further, these observations sometimes also included concerns about inequities in teaching loads between and within faculties. Several comments articulate a sense that budget constraints are undermining teaching and research activities in some Faculties, while others are unaffected, and that this contributes to an accumulation of advantage in some Faculties and disadvantage in others.

These are clearly complex and difficult issues but also ones that must be addressed in order to maintain or even improve McMaster’s teaching and research excellence. MUFA can raise these concerns with the Administration, but we are more effective when we can point to specific examples of poor policy or policy implementation or when we have sufficient data to support our claims. (To that end, let me remind our members to complete the OCUFA survey on workplace stress, which could give us more data about the pressures of our workplace.) We are also working to put in place a more robust system for tracking inquiries and concerns brought to our attention by members so that MUFA can better identify areas of concern.

Teaching professors

Six members specifically asked about MUFA’s position on the number of teaching-intensive (teaching-track, permanent teaching) faculty members. It is worth clarifying some apparent misunderstandings. First, there is no limit to the number of teaching track positions in the Faculty of Health Science. If the Faculty of Health Science is not creating new teaching track positions, this in no way is a consequence of any formal policy or agreement with MUFA. Second, every time a Dean has requested, through the Provost, an increase in their allotment of teaching stream positions, MUFA has approved this request. Indeed, since 2011, MUFA has approved 8 additional teaching stream positions in the Faculties of Business, Humanities, Science, and Social Sciences as well as 15 positions for Engineering’s Bachelor of Technology program.

MUFA agrees that it would be preferable for the University to limit its use of temporary (CLA) contracts and instead hire permanent academic staff. Between 2005 and 2013 (teaching track appointments were introduced in 2007), about 17-18% of all full-time faculty appointments have been CLA or teaching-track appointments combined. Both CLA and teaching-track appointments tend to be teaching intensive, with similar workload distributions (80% teaching, 20% service).

Previously, MUFA proposed “that SPS-A9 be superseded by an agreement that limits the allocation of CLA plus TP positions University-wide (and excluding Health Sciences) as a percentage of all full-time faculty positions (CLA, TP, and TT) to a value that reflects the current and recent distribution of such positions (with some flexibility for annual fluctuations)“ (full text available here). Further, “the MUFA leadership believes such an agreement would be beneficial for both MUFA members and the University. It would create greater flexibility than the current policy and allow for growth while ensuring a reasonable and historically informed balance between research-intensive and teaching-intensive full-time faculty members.”

Other comments regarding teaching-track positions focused on issues of workload, equitable treatment, and other concerns raised by a Senate Committee on Appointments Sub-Committee to Review Policies and Procedures Surrounding the Appointment Category of Teaching-Stream Faculty. MUFA solicited additional member feedback related to the report and its recommendations and has discussed many of these issues with the University administration. Some issues identified in the report, such as evaluation of teaching expertise, are being addressed by other committees looking at the issue more broadly. Some other issues identified in the report are difficult to address systematically through policy interventions because the roles of teaching-track members can vary significantly across campus and individual teaching-track faculty members have different preferences for the allocation of their workloads. For example, some teaching-track members would like discipline-based research to be acknowledged as part of their workload, while others want recognition for pedagogical research. Still others want no expectation of research whatsoever. This makes it difficult to articulate a clear policy position that is likely to satisfy everyone. Nevertheless, MUFA will continue to advocate that existing policies be implemented fairly and transparently.

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Salaries and benefits

Under the general heading of salaries and non-pension benefits a number of suggestions or issues were raised (about 15 responses). The issues that were raised by more than one member included better health coverage and tuition bursaries for dependents. About 15 members specifically raised concerns either about erosion of pension benefits or requested greater information about retirement planning. I would direct those concerned about our pensions to an update on provincial discussions of a sector-wide, jointly-sponsored pension plan, which was included in the last newsletter.

Gender equity/family-friendly policies

About 10 members raised issues of broadly related to gender equity or family-friendly policies. Most of these comments suggested that though MUFA’s involvement in gender pay equity was welcome, significant issues remain. One member specifically raised concerns about lack of spousal hires, which has historically affected female academics who tend to have higher rates of marrying other academic staff than their male colleagues. Other members raised concerns about maintaining productivity during parental leave. I will note that MUFA recently worked with the Administration to clarify how merit pay following parental leave is calculated. The revised policy went into effect this summer. This is a small step toward addressing these issues. MUFA continues to discuss opportunities for promoting equity with the Administration, particular with the AVP Faculty Susan Searls Giroux, who leads a working group that has been discussing implementation of recommendations from the Equity Task Force.

Administration (collegial governance)

More than 10 members raised concerns about the Administration of the University, particularly with regard to collegial (joint) governance. Phrases used included “lack of consultation,” “heavy-handed,” “managerialsim,” or “fiefdom.” Most of these comments reflected a sense of frustration about general trends rather than specific instances of abuse. Three of the comments specifically mentioned non-specific concerns about the Faculty of Health Science, the only Faculty to be singled out this way.

Teaching roles

With regard to our teaching roles, six members raised concerns. Specific concerns were how student evaluations of teaching are used in our merit and promotion processes as well as potential misuse or bullying of faculty through such feedback tools. Mounting evidence suggests that student evaluations of teaching are significantly biased and poor measures of instructional quality. A working group headed by AVP Faculty Susan Searls Giroux has been reviewing best practices for evaluation of teaching—beyond student evaluations—and is expected to have recommendations this academic year. Often, our existing formal policies are quite clear and appropriate, but sometimes there are gaps in implementation that should be addressed. Faculty members also expressed concerns about how retroactive accommodations are managed, online education, and grade reporting on McMaster University transcripts.


Six members specifically mentioned concerns about MOSAIC, including the downloading of work to faculty and staff in academic departments and programs. In several other comments, MOSAIC was mentioned in conjunction with general concerns about workloads and demands on faculty and staff time for tasks not directly related to our teaching and research missions.

Judicial Review related to the DeGroote School of Business

Six members expressed concerns over MUFA’s position on the judicial review filed related to a McMaster University Board-Senate Hearing Panel in the DeGroote School of Business. Interested members can review key documents online. MUFA has members on both sides of the dispute in the Faculty, and the comments in the survey reflect that. More troubling to me is that one member described the Faculty as in a state of “ongoing dysfunctionality.”

MUFA’s advocacy in general and dues

Some (6-7) would like MUFA to be more aggressive in its approach toward the administration, including several (3 of the 7) who would like to see MUFA become a certified union. However, it appears that those most interested in certification do not regularly attend MUFA meetings or are not interested in doing so, according to their survey responses. Last but not least, two members commented on MUFA dues, one appreciating that they are low and another complaining that they are too high. For information, MUFA’s mill (or membership) rate is 0.5% of salary. In practice, it is often closer to 0.46% because the Executive Committee approves dues “holidays” when there is an operating surplus, which occurs most years. Excluding McMaster, the Ontario average (for 10 universities) is 1.011%, and the average rate among Ontario U15 members is .855%.

Thanks again to those of you who took the time to answer this short survey, and please be in touch with MUFA staff ( or extension 24682/20297) or Executive Committee members if you have additional comments or questions.

Report prepared by: Michelle Dion, MUFA President (2015-16)

Jointly-Sponsored Pension Plans (JSPPs)

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Jointly-Sponsored Pension Plans (JSPPs)

As many of you may recall, we communicated with our members last year about a proposed university sector jointly-sponsored pension plan (JSPP), which was being discussed by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). A JSPP is a pension plan in which the employer or employers and employees share decisions and financial risks (usually 50-50). A university sector JSPP is multi-employer JSPP in which several universities join a single pension plan and establish it as a JSPP.

From the beginning, COU and OCUFA have agreed to a set of principles to guide the  development of the University Pensions Project (UPP) JSPP. These are:

  1.  Participation [of a university] in a sector-wide or multi-employer JSPP, as defined by the Pension Benefits Act, will be voluntary and open to all pension plan types and all employee groups.
  • Existing university pension plans are generally subject to collective bargaining, and pension rights are embedded in collective agreements negotiated locally. Collective bargaining and local decision-making processes are the legitimate means for determining the future direction of Ontario university pensions.
  1. A university-sector or multi-employer JSPP will be non-statutory.
  • The plan should be established through a process of negotiation between the parties who will be joining the plan (or agents of the parties).
  • The government would need to provide legislation of general application to facilitate the framework for the creation of such a plan.
  1. A university-sector or multi-employer JSPP will receive an exemption from solvency valuations and funding.
  • This is the funding basis for all of the public sector JSPPs currently in existence.
  • This would be in keeping with the government’s objective to support efforts to convert single-employer plans to jointly-sponsored plans.
  1. A university-sector or multi-employer JSPP will include a guaranteed formula pension.
  • This principle currently holds for all existing defined benefit and hybrid university pension plans, with the exception of the defined contribution plans.
  1. A university-sector or multi-employer JSPP will be fully funded on a going concern basis at inception.
  • This is a necessary pre-condition for establishing a fair relationship between the parties entering the plan (between universities and plan members and between each of the universities).
  • This provides a foundation for the parties to negotiate how future gains and losses on the liabilities and assets transferred into the JSPP are treated for funding purposes in the ongoing JSPP.
  • The sector will act to develop a full funding strategy, with the assistance of the government as necessary.
  1. Under this new equal partnership arrangement, each of the parties involved (plan members and their representatives, plan sponsors and administrators, and government) need to understand the potential benefits and negative implications of any proposal to create a university-sector or multi-employer JSPP, so that an informed decision as to whether or not to proceed can be made.
  • All data that is being used to inform decision-making will be made available to the parties involved.

In the December 2014/January 2015 MUFA Newsletter, Michel Grignon (Economics and member of the MUFA Executive) explained the nature of the JSPP proposal and these discussions. Since then, COU and OCUFA have met again to further elaborate the framework that will guide the formal design and building of the new JSPP. The result of these discussions is a more detailed draft document that outlines the principles that COU and OCUFA have agreed to guide the design of the new UPP JSPP.

In this document, the UPP JSPP, which will outline its own guidelines for applications to join, the proposal includes the following provisions for a University which seeks to join the new JSPP:

30.  In order for an Employer to participate in the New Plan, the Employer:
(a) must meet all legislative and local collective bargaining requirements with respect to its unions, faculty associations, and any other groups with bargaining rights;
(b) must have entered into an asset transfer agreement with the Sponsors;
(c) the requirements of the [Pension Benefits Act-] PBA for a conversion and asset transfer must be satisfied. (Section V. 30. p. 8)

The intent of this statement, which both COU and OCUFA have endorsed, is to ensure that Universities cannot apply to join the proposed UPP JSPP without negotiating and getting the approval of all organized groups on campus, such as MUFA. 

That draft document also includes an outline of the pension contribution rates and benefits currently envisioned for the proposed JSPP (p. 11-12) as well as some of the outstanding issues yet to be resolved (p. 13-14). The chart below, which is based on that included in the draft UPP design framework, includes the current JSPP proposal with the current pension benefits of MUFA members.

Plan Provisions
Most recent University Pensions Project JSPP Design Framework (6/2015)
Current McMaster plan provisions for MUFA members
18% contribution rate
20% contribution rate
McMaster (currently approximately 16-18% contribution depending on salary)
Averaging period for earnings and YMPE 60 months 60 months The average of the 48 highest months of regular annual salary while a Plan participant
Benefit rate per Year of Service on FAE up to AYMPE 1.50% 1.65% 1.4% of Best Average Salary up to the Average Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (“Average YMPE”) times Pensionable Service plus,
Benefit rate per Year of Service on FAE in excess of AYMPE 2.00% 2.00% 2.0% of Best Average Salary in excess of the Average YMPE times Pensionable Service
Bridge Benefit per Year of Service 0.50% of FAE up to AYMPE 0.35% of FAE up to AYMPE A Faculty Member who retires with an unreduced pension under the Special Retirement Date provisions will receive a bridge benefit equal to $19.00 per month per year of Pensionable Service accrued to June 30, 1996 to a maximum of 20 years of service.

The bridge benefit is payable from the later of the pension commencement date and Member’s attainment of age 60 and ceases on attainment of age 65 or death, if earlier.

Maximum Pension Indexed Income Tax Act maximum pension (applied before early retirement reductions) Indexed Income Tax Act maximum pension (applied before early retirement reductions) Same  
Guaranteed normal form of payment—without spouse Life guaranteed 10 years 60% survivor benefit Life guaranteed 7 years (with some other options)
Guaranteed normal form of payment—with spouse Life guaranteed 10 years 50% joint + survivor option, guaranteed at 100% for 7 years. After death, spouse gets 50% pension (with other options)
Eligibility for unreduced early retirement Age 60 + 80 points (age + continuous service) 85 points (age + continuous service) 84-90 depending on dates of retirement (the rules of 85 or 90)
Reduced early retirement 5% per year from unreduced early retirement rate Without 85 points, 5% penalty per year from age 65 Reduced by 0.5% for each month (equivalent 6% per year) per year from age 65
Indexation in the deferral period None None
Indexation after pension commencement – rate of indexation 75% of increase in CPI 75% of increase in CPI Lesser of CPI or percentage that average rate of return exceeds 4.5%
Indexation after pension commencement – maximum increase Maximum increase in CPI of 5% None
Disability benefits Continued accrual, employee contributions not required Continued accrual, employee contributions not required
Interest rate on member contributions CANSIM rates per PBA CANSIM rates per PBA i. A transfer of an amount equal to twice the Member’s required contributions plus Net Interest on the Fund to a locked-in retirement savings arrangement or other pension plan as permitted.

ii. A transfer of the commuted value of the Member’s deferred pension to a locked-in retirement arrangement or other pension plan as permitted. A deferred pension, payable at the Member’s normal retirement date, equal to the pension earned up to the date of termination. Hired post 2013, option i. excluded. ]

Open issues
UPP discussion points
Eligibility Proposed plan includes all current members

Plan designed to permit expansion of coverage to employees not currently participating

POC research underway

Cost sharing Agreement on cost sharing for future accruals

No agreement on allocation (e.g. 50/50 or 45/55)

COU may consider transition from 45/55 to 50/50

50/50 (currently for MUFA members)
Risk sharing Tied to discussion on cost-sharing
Responsibility of future experience on past service liabilities and assets In SEPPs, employers responsible; in JSPPs, responsibility generally shared

No agreement on ownership of future experience gains and losses on past service

If gains and losses eventually shared, should be a transition period

Early retirement benefits Agreement to provide subsidized early retirement

 COU does not support unreduced pension with 85 points without minimum retirement age

Indexing No negative experience; indexing is not ad hoc

OCUFA maintains a website with additional information about the University Pension Plan (UPP) JSPP process and proposal, including various project presentations and documents. The Ministry of Finance has also published regulations that will govern transitions from an employer-sponsored to a jointly-sponsored pension plan.

After consulting MUFA’s representatives on the McMaster University Pension Trust Committee, the MUFA Executive Committee is of the opinion that the proposed JSPP is not an appealing option for our members.