OPSEU/SEFPO in the News: Stop the Cuts at Fleming College!


On Wednesday, April 24th, Fleming College announced the suspension of 29 programs across its campuses – over 1/5 of programs offered – framing the decision as a response to declining fall enrolment after federal caps to international student visas. Union, sector, and student leaders quickly mobilized to push back on this narrative, arguing the case for financial mismanagement by upper administration. The decision around program suspensions was not made in consultation with faculty, staff, or industry partners and came abruptly; at the spring open house two days before the program suspensions were announced, soon-to-be cancelled programs were still being advertised.

As communicated in a joint letter from OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick and College leaders to Premier Ford and Minister Jill Dunlop, these program cuts will cause irreparable harm to students’ futures and the ability of employers to recruit trained graduates in occupations critical to the economy and the environment. Rather than correcting course with a look towards young people’s future and economic prosperity, Fleming College is eroding pathways to employment while the college projects a $38.4 million surplus for the 2023/2024 fiscal year. The announced cuts come after continued growth in non-union administrative roles under President Maureen Adamson’s tenure, with one excluded/management role on the Sunshine List (earning over $100,000) for every 28 unionized faculty and staff. Budgets are a series of choices – and it is clear the college would rather defund young peoples’ futures rather than make cuts to its top ranks.

The college’s public communications have maintained that program cuts will have negligible impacts on students – contrary to what students say, particularly from the Frost campus where 14 out of the 29 programs suspended were offered. Fleming College has historically been a national leader in environmental studies, yet program suspensions include significant cuts to environmental programs for which students will be hard-pressed to find substitutes. The recent program cuts brings the total number of programs eliminated up to 42 in a 12-month period, if we consider the 13 programs cancelled in 2023. Some of these programs are not offered anywhere else in the region. In addition, the cuts to Fleming programs will limit students from accessing educational pathways to nearby Trent University as several of the Fleming programs have partnership agreements with Trent and other universities.

Read more about how workers and student leaders are taking action and calling for a stop to cuts at Fleming College:

Faculty union blasts ‘unprecedented’ 29 program cuts at Fleming College – Global News

“This is unprecedented — this number of programs that have been cut… In my experience, we haven’t seen this level of program cuts for decades. We already lost about 13 programs last June and now we’re losing another 29…The college put out there’s no direct impact to current students but that’s just false,” she said. “We have students that literally just graduated from a two-year program that were hoping to come back into other programs. We don’t know what lies ahead for them. They cut those pathways off. There are pathways into some of these programs and some of these programs were their exit pathways into great jobs.”

– Liz Mathewson, President, OPSEU/SEFPO Local 352 (faculty union)

“(The) timing of it doesn’t really jive with what our natural school year would be. We have potential students who would have been attending next fall that have been impacted this week.”

– Marcia Steeves, President, OPSEU/SEFPO Local 351 (support staff union)

‘Shock and fear for their jobs’: This Ontario public college is slashing 29 programs after international student drop – Toronto Star

“‘My inbox has been full,’ said Marcia Steeves, president of OPSEU Local 351, which, along with another unit, represents 258 full-time and 428 part-time support staff at Fleming College. ‘There’s a lot of questions, a lot of shock and a lot of fear for their jobs.’ The unions said they were not consulted in the process and are demanding that management justify its decisions.”

Fleming College union local presidents vow ‘to hold the college accountable’ in wake of program cuts – Kawartha Now

“Until the college engages with the union locals in transparent discussions and provides the full evidence used to make these decisions, we will not know the full impact to faculty…We cannot predict the impact to employees (but) we do know that our most precarious employees, our contract faculty, will be impacted the hardest.”

– Liz Mathewson, President, OPSEU/SEFPO Local 352 (faculty union)

“For her part, Steeves says ‘without meaningful (administration) engagement with the union, we will not know the full impact to part-time employees,’ noting many of those part-time employees are students.”

– Marcia Steeves, President, OPSEU/SEFPO Local 351 (support staff union)

“We have not seen this level of program cuts in decades and we view it as unprecedented. We fear other colleges will follow Fleming’s example, and inappropriately jump to cutting programs without engagement, transparency, and collaboration.”

– Liz Mathewson & Marcia Steeves, joint statement

‘Incomprehensible and immoral’: Union urges province to address Fleming College program cuts – The Peterborough Examiner

“The cuts made by the board of directors on April 23 — what [OPSEU/SEFPO President] Hornick calls ‘incomprehensible and immoral’ — add to the 13 made the previous year and represent one-fifth of the college’s programming. The college promoted the programs at an Open House held less than a week before cutting them.”

Local employer decries Fleming College program cuts, citing loss of potential local skilled tradespeople – Kawartha Now

“The presidents of two OPSEU/SEPFO union locals that represents Fleming faculty and staff told kawarthaNOW that the programs’ suspension ‘are not simply a result of the federal cap on international students,’ noting the culprit is ‘a significant and systematic underfunding of our public post-secondary institutions by the provincial government.'”