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Financial Sustainability

Queen’s University and PSAC Local 901 ratify first collective agreement for Graduate Research Assistants

Queen’s University, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada and its Local 901 (Unit1) (“PSAC”), have successfully ratified a tentative agreement for a first collective agreement for graduate students employed as research assistants (“Graduate Research Assistants”). Read more

University, CUPE Locals 229, 254, and 1302 ratify collective agreements

The tentative collective agreements between Queen’s University and the three CUPE Locals (229, 254 and 1302) are now in effect. The ratification also included support for the University Pension Plan (UPP).  Read more

Provost provides tuition reduction update

The following is an update from Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Tom Harris to Queen’s faculty and staff regarding the Government of Ontario’s plan to cut tuition fees at post-secondary institutions.

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, the Government of Ontario is implementing a 10 per cent tuition reduction in 2019-20 and a tuition freeze in 2020-21 for domestic students in funding-eligible programs. The tuition reduction will affect fees in undergraduate and graduate programs across the university. As a result of these changes, Queen’s 2019-20 operating revenue will decrease by $31.4 million relative to projections made in December 2018. This decrease will be followed by another $7 million reduction next year, as tuition fees remain frozen in 2020-21. As the percentage of domestic students in funding-eligible programs varies across faculties and schools, the impact of the tuition cut is unevenly distributed across academic units.

Over the past several weeks, I have worked with the university’s leadership team to identify the best path forward for Queen’s. The decision-making process was guided by a set of principles developed in consultation with Principal Daniel Woolf to ensure we remain focused on our core academic mission of excellence in teaching, research, and service to our communities. The senior leadership team worked together to develop a strategy that was sustainable for our faculties, schools, and central service units, and to ensure that our response would minimize, as much as possible, the impact of the cuts on our faculty, staff, and students.

Principal Woolf has approved the following steps, to be taken in 2019-20, to offset the reduction in tuition revenue:

  • We will continue to advance our internationalization efforts by modestly expanding our international student recruitment targets. In the last two years, international student intake made-up between 10.4 and 11.5 per cent of first-year enrolment; our goal is to increase this to approximately 15 per cent in 2019-20. Carefully planned international enrolment growth has been a priority at Queen’s for several years, as outlined in our Strategic Framework (2014-19) and our Comprehensive International Plan (2015-19). Our international recruitment strategy has enabled small year-over-year increases since 2012 when international students comprised just 3 per cent of the incoming class. We have a broad range of transition and support services available to our international students, and we will assess what additional supports may be needed for our faculty, staff, and students as a result of the continued growth of our international student complement. As always, all applicants to Queen’s will be assessed against our usual admission standards.
  • Some undergraduate enrolment intake will be reallocated, resulting in a slight shift in enrolment from the Faculty of Arts and Science to the Smith School of Business, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Faculty of Health Sciences.
  • Central services will forgo a previously planned base budget increase of 2 per cent. As a result, some central service activities may be impacted.
  • Where possible, units will draw-down a portion of their budget carry-forwards to help offset decreases in revenue. Allocations will also be made from the University Fund to support the academic units that are least able to respond to the revenue reduction.

By modestly expanding our international student recruitment targets and redistributing enrolment across faculties and schools, our projected revenue for 2019-20 will increase by 4 per cent over 2018-19. While our strategy to respond to the tuition cut will ensure that the 2019-20 operating budget is balanced (after the draw-down of reserves), the provincial government’s new tuition framework presents significant long-term financial challenges for the university.

Over the past several years, Queen’s has maintained a strong financial position, with year-over-year operating revenue increases exceeding 6 per cent in the last two years. This is reflected in the recent reaffirmation by DBRS of the university’s high bond rating. That said, the compounding effects of the tuition cut and subsequent freeze, combined with some uncertainty regarding the prospect of future enrolment growth under the next Strategic Mandate Agreement, will limit our previously planned increases in revenue. As a result, some of the university’s long-term strategic priorities may need to be scaled back unless alternative revenue sources are secured.  

The Deans, Vice-Principals, and Vice-Provosts are in the process of developing their portfolio budgets for 2019-20, and I anticipate that they will communicate any relevant details to their units once the Board of Trustees approves the university’s operating budget in May. The budget development process for 2020-21 will begin in summer 2019, and Principal-Designate Patrick Deane’s strategic priorities will influence long-term budget planning.

In addition to reducing tuition fees, the provincial government is implementing changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and the ancillary fee structure, allowing students to opt-out of some fees. Queen’s will work to help support students who may have their access to university affected by the OSAP changes, and the leadership team is working with the Alma Mater Society (AMS) and Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) to understand the impact of the new ancillary fee regulations.

Sincerely,

Professor Tom Harris

Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)

Queen's University and CUPE Locals 229, 254 and 1302 reach tentative agreements

On March 27, 2019, the University and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Locals 229, 254 and 1302 reached tentative agreements to renew their respective collective agreements.

In addition, the parties also reached tentative agreements with respect to the proposed conversion and transfer of assets from the Queen’s Pension Plan to the University Pension Plan.

The agreements are subject to ratification by the parties.

The University values the contributions of its employees and is committed to the collective bargaining process.

 

Statement from Principal Woolf on federal budget

Government of Canada releases 2019 budget, which includes investment in work-integrated learning, internationalization.

Following Budget 2018’s investment in research and innovation, Budget 2019 is a welcome investment in skills training and talent development, which will help prepare Canadians for the jobs of the future.

Investments of note for the post-secondary sector include $114 million over five years, with $26.5 million per year ongoing, to create 500 more master’s level scholarship and 167 more three-year doctoral scholarship awards annually through the Canada Graduate Scholarship program. The budget also invests $147.9 million over five years, with $8 million per year ongoing to support the creation of new work/study abroad opportunities for Canadian students abroad, as well as to promote Canadian education internationally.

Also included in Budget 2019 were:

  • An expansion of parental leave coverage for students and postdoctoral fellows receiving tri-council funding from six to 12 months.
  • $25 million over 10 years to support the work of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research, headquartered here at Queen’s.
  • Reduction of both the fixed and floating interest rates for Canada Student Loans Program borrowers, and ending interest accumulation during the six-month grace period.
  • The creation of the Canada Training Benefit and Employment Insurance Training Support Benefit, to assist Canadians in re-skilling for the jobs of the future.
  • Expansion of work-integrated learning through direct investment, as well as partnerships with innovative businesses and the Business Higher Education Roundtable, to create 84,000 new student work placements across Canada by 2023–24, and reach 100 per cent attainment for WIL opportunities for interested students.

Queen’s plays a critical role in supporting economic prosperity by preparing graduates with the job-ready skills they need to compete and thrive in a changing labour market. We welcome the opportunity to engage with government on the development of targeted skills programming, and on the creation of new work-integrated learning opportunities. I look forward to hearing further details on the implementation of these and other Budget initiatives.

Queen’s will continue to encourage the government make further investments in fundamental research, recognizing both the basic scientific discoveries and applied skills training opportunities that university-generated research provides.

– Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Request for Proposals launched for Employee Benefit Plan

Queen’s has been working closely with the university’s benefits consultant and an external firm that specializes in procurement law to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an employee benefits provider. The RFP is now open to bidders for a six-week period.

In late 2016, the university asked all benefit-eligible employees for feedback on their employee benefits as part of the plan review process, including on potential areas for improvement. Throughout 2018, the university worked with the Multi-Employee Group Employee Benefits Committee (MEGEBC) to explore possible changes to the design of the current benefit plan. The MEGEBC was comprised of participants from university employee groups.

The university, with the support of the MEGEBC, identified some meaningful changes to the current benefit plan design that are responsive to a number of suggested areas for feedback. Some highlights include introducing a pay-direct drug card, introducing coverage for services of a registered psychologist, and an increase to vision coverage.

“The improvements to the Employee Benefit Plan will support the physical and mental health of employees and their families moving forward,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration).

The RFP was publicly posted on March 14 and will be open to bidders for a six-week period. Bid evaluation will follow including interviews with the top proponents. It is expected that the evaluation period will take a further six weeks. Once the successful proponent has been identified, an implementation timeline will be developed, including when and how the plan design changes will be added to existing coverage.

Find out more about the employee benefits review on the HR website. Employees can also send questions about the project to benefits.project@queensu.ca

Sharing a success story

[Nicole Fowler and Nicole Mundell]
A presentation created by Nicole Fowler and Nicki Mundell, about Queen's University's experience implementing a new electronic Procure to Pay system, was so popular that spend management company Jaggaer is now sharing it with clients around the world. (University Communications)

Since being introduced in May 2017, acQuire, Queen's electronic Procure to Pay system, has resulted in numerous improvements across the university including replacing the former manual, paper-based procurement and payment processes, increasing efficiencies and transparency, and reducing the carbon footprint.

Numerous private corporations and universities across North America have also introduced the software, created by spend management company Jaggaer, but Queen’s has quickly become a leading implementer of the software’s eProcurement, Accounts Payable and Supplier Management modules, particularly within the post-secondary education sector.

As a result, the Queen’s acQuire team was recently invited to make a presentation at a conference held at the Jaggaer company’s headquarters in North Carolina. The presentation, detailing the implementation process and successes, went so well that the Queen’s team was invited to create a webcast with the company’s media firm to help other program users around the world.

For Nicole Fowler and Nicki Mundell, who head up the acQuire team at Queen’s, the experience and positive response has been a pleasant surprise.

“It went really well. There were a lot of comments and feedback and we actually had a lot of people (current and prospective customers) wanting to exchange contacts with us,” says Fowler, Manager, Senior Procurement, acQuire and Accounts Payable. “Then we got a call from Jaggaer saying that people were still talking about the presentation. After we said we were getting calls as well they said they weren’t talking about clients but Jaggaer’s own development team. I think this shows that Queen’s is really leading in this space.”

Since the presentation and webcast the Queen’s Procurement team has received a number of contacts and several Ontario universities have scheduled visits to see first-hand how Queen’s has implemented, and continues to improve, the system. A network of users is being created that is beneficial for all, including Queen’s, now and in the long term.

“We now have networked to a greater group of people who will help us make this tool just that much better,” Fowler says. “We want to make sure that we are not standing still, and instead look for what we can do to keep making this better, whether it is the user experience or the information we can get out of the tool. There are other users who are doing some very innovative things. That’s great for us because now we can work together to make it better for all.”

The acQuire program was brought in to modernize Queen’s University’s procurement and accounts payable systems. Unlike the majority of education sector users, Queen’s opted for a university-wide implementation. The user-friendly program allows staff and faculty to use a single username and password to access different vendors. Much like an online shopping experience, users are able to place multiple products in their virtual shopping cart and only check out once. The implementation process has been smooth and the majority of feedback from acQuire clients has been positive. Support is quick and readily available for anyone having difficulties.

“Everything is located in one convenient location from the start of researching the product, placing the order, getting approvals, paying the invoice, to helpful links, policies, procedures and forms,” says Bonnie Fleming, Purchasing Assistant, IT Services. “Probably the most important aspect is the support and backup that we know we can always depend on from the Procurement team. Knowing that they are just a phone call away and that they truly care that our experience is a positive one is priceless.”

Other benefits of acQuire include reducing the wait times between placing an order and having it filled by the supplier, fast, electronic communication with suppliers, full transparency  and ability to track a purchase requisition to P.O., explains Nicki Mundell, Procurement Systems Analyst and Solution Administrator.

“The change from paper cheque requisitioning to electronic remittance forms was one of our biggest successes with acQuire. The change created transparency for our Procurement and Finance teams as well as the end users,” she says. “The technology enabled us to build specific forms for our client needs, and we now manage about 95 percent of paper payment requests flowing through the system, providing more efficient processing times and cutting the number of steps for the entire process in half.” After a recent analysis, Procurement has also identified that 98 percent of PDF forms related to procurement exceptions are now routing electronically as well – resulting in a significant reduction of paper processing for exception related transactions at Queen’s.

However, the success of the system wouldn’t have been possible without support and acceptance by the Queen’s staff and faculty, both point out.

To learn how to get the maximum benefits from using acQuire, contact the acQuire team by email or visit their website.

USW Local 2010 and QUFA support transition to UPP, ratify collective agreements

United Steelworkers Local 2010 and Queen’s University Faculty Association members have voted to support the University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP), moving the university closer to a new, sustainable defined benefit pension plan for the future. 

More than 96 per cent of votes cast by QUFA members who are Queen’s Pension Plan members voted in support of a renewed collective agreement and consent to the UPP. USW Local 2010 members cast 96.4 per cent of votes in favour. 

The ratifications mean that USW Local 2010 and QUFA will be providing consent to the proposed UPP on behalf of the members of the Queen’s Pension Plan that they represent. Pension consent agreements form part of the USW and QUFA collective agreements. 

The conversion to the UPP requires a formal consent process, set out in provincial statutes and regulations. Employees represented by USW and faculty associations are now the first groups of plan members to give their representative unions and associations a mandate to support the UPP through to conclusion.  

“The ratifications by the USW and QUFA are major steps forward in our journey towards the UPP,” says Donna Janiec, Queen’s Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “I want to thank everyone involved for their support in getting us to this point. It represents years of hard work.” 

The USW and faculty associations at the two other founding UPP universities, the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph, have also ratified agreements to support the UPP. 

“We are very pleased that QUFA and USW Local 2010 members recognize that supporting the UPP represents a move towards ensuring we have a defined benefit pension plan that will provide strong, dependable retirement income for pension members at Queen’s in the long-term,” says Janiec.

In order to reach the mandated level of consent to introduce the new plan, Queen’s still requires the support of other unions and its non-unionized employees. The university will continue its discussions with other union groups, and will be providing additional information to non-unionized employees who are required to vote individually.  

The UPP will be a jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP), initially inclusive of three universities – Queen’s University, the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph. Employers and plan members will jointly govern it. Other universities across Ontario will be able to join, once the UPP is established.  

The UPP follows the model of other well-known, defined benefit pension plans, such as the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS).  

 More information about the UPP and the ongoing consent process is available on the UPP website.

Queen’s joins University Climate Change Coalition

Partnership brings together leading research institutions to advance sustainability efforts.

Small windmill models on a table next to people working on laptops.
Queen’s has joined the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3), a group of 19 North American research institutions collaborating to accelerate local action against climate change. (Photo courtesy of RawPixel, Unsplash)

Queen’s University is now the newest member of the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3), a group of 19 leading North American research institutions united in a collaborative effort to accelerate local action against climate change.

Together, UC3 members leverage their institutional strengths to foster cross-sector partnerships and knowledge sharing aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and nurturing community resilience.

“A sustainable future has long been the goal of many research, teaching, and campus initiatives taking place here at Queen’s University,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “The challenge of climate change is one that demands the world’s collective efforts, and post-secondary institutions can and lead the search for solutions. I look forward to the joint contributions that Queen’s and our new partners can continue to make in this area.”

Each UC3 member commits to convening a climate change forum within the first year of membership, bringing together community and business leaders, elected officials, advocates, and other stakeholders in their local areas to discuss research needs, science-based climate solutions, knowledge gaps, priorities, and recommendations.

Preliminary plans are in development to host a forum at Queen’s during Sustainability Week in October 2019. Community members are invited to provide input on what the forum could look like via the Sustainable Ideas form.

“Queen’s has and continues to be committed to strengthening a culture of sustainability within our campus community,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “We look forward to collaborating with our UC3 partners as we continue striving to reduce our environmental footprint.”

Queen’s has a long history of sustainability efforts on campus. Recent initiatives include construction on the West Campus District Energy Conversion Project to reduce the university’s GHG emissions; the launch of a new Sustainability Working Group; joining Sustainable Kingston’s Green Economy Program; and offering a new Sustainability @ Queen’s learning module to provide an overview of sustainability at Queen’s and the opportunities staff have to get involved.

Formed in February 2018, UC3 is comprised of post-secondary institutions across Canada, Mexico, and the United States, including:

  • Arizona State University
  • Boston University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Tecnológico de Monterrey
  • La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Ohio State University
  • State University of New York
  • University of Arizona
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Maryland, College Park
  • University of New Mexico
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Washington
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • University of California
  • University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Queen’s University

 

Queen’s Pension Plan Annual General Meeting and pensioner info session

Queen's Pension Plan AGM and UPP information session is Friday, Dec. 14 at 1 pm in the Ellis Hall Auditorium.

The Queen’s Pension Plan Annual General Meeting takes place on Friday, Dec. 14, in Ellis Auditorium, from 1 pm to 2:30 pm.

An information session for pensioners about the proposed University Pension Plan will follow the AGM portion of the meeting.

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