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OPSEU Coalition of Racialized Workers

OPSEU/SEFPO supports the OHRC in calling for stronger human rights enforcement in Ontario’s universities and colleges

OPSEU/SEFPO stands with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) in the goal of achieving stronger human rights protections within Ontario’s universities and colleges. In support of the OHRC’s Dec. 18 letter to all Presidents and Principals of Ontario’s academic institutions, OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and Peter Thompson, Chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Coalition of Racialized Workers (CoRW) sent a letter to the OHRC’s Chief Commissioner expressing the union’s gratitude and support.

“Ontario’s universities and colleges are centres of education, innovation, and progress. These environments should be safe, inclusive spaces for students and workers alike, with policies and procedures in place that are continuously assessed,” wrote Thomas and Thompson.

Read the full text of the letter below:

December 22, 2020

Ena Chadha
Chief Commissioner
Ontario Human Rights Commission
180 Dundas St. West, 9th Floor
Toronto, ON, M7A 2G

Re: OPSEU/SEFPO supports the OHRC in calling for stronger human rights enforcement in Ontario’s universities and colleges

Dear Commissioner Chadha:

We wish to express our gratitude and support for the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) in taking action to reinforce the Ontario Human Rights Code in our academic institutions. We appreciate the commission’s Dec 18 ‘Letter to universities and colleges on racism and other human rights concerns’. This letter to all Presidents and Principals was a much-needed call for accountability and respect for human rights in these institutions.

OPSEU/SEFPO represents thousands of full-time faculty, and full-time and part-time support staff at Ontario’s colleges. We also represent a considerable number of staff in universities. One of the pillars our union stands on is ensuring that our members’ workplace environments are safe for everyone – students and workers alike – and free from all forms of discrimination.

For example, OPSEU/SEFPO was extremely disappointed with the University of Ottawa condoning the use of the N-word in the teaching of its course curriculum, and the slow response to correct this injustice. All students deserve to feel safe in our academic institutions. They deserve to have their human rights upheld in their classrooms, on their campuses, and in every aspect of their educational experience. The University did not reflect this in its initial response to this incident.

Ontario’s universities and colleges are centres of education, innovation, and progress. These environments should be safe, inclusive spaces for students and workers alike, with policies and procedures in place that are continuously assessed.

OPSEU/SEFPO commends the OHRC for reminding the Presidents and Principals of Ontario’s universities and colleges that they have a responsibility to foster inclusive, respectful academic environments and to dismantle systemic racism and discrimination. Our union stands with you in this goal of achieving stronger human rights protections within these institutions.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU/SEFPO President

Peter Thompson,
OPSEU/SEFPO Coalition of Racialized Workers Chair