These days, it is unfortunately not an exaggeration to say our university is falling apart. Our members who teach and research in the Humanities building have been displaced since the holidays due to the fire caused by an electrical switch gear failure in the Humanities Building. Some have only just found offices this past week. In the meantime, many have had to conduct their office hours in whatever space is available, and travel through campus without a home base to prepare for class, take online meetings, or store their belongings.
Others in Tory and ECHA are also having to navigate the impact of damaged workplaces due to freezing pipes and water damage resulting from the cold weather snap. Extreme weather can certainly harm healthy infrastructure, but the frequency of these issues this year highlights a larger problem: the impact of deferred maintenance on our university.
This deferred maintenance of our buildings is a direct result of the severe lack of post-secondary education funding from government. Given the increasing volatility of our environment due to climate change, extreme weather events will only become more frequent in the coming years. It is frankly shameful that our institution, which was built to advance knowledge and foster the next generation of innovators and leaders, would be left to crumble in this way.
I want to acknowledge the immense difficulty of this time for our members affected by issues stemming from deferred maintenance. Displacement and damage pose significant barriers to conducting our work as academic staff.
The Employer is responsible for creating a safe workplace and ensuring that members have the necessary equipment to perform their work.
If you are not already aware, I wanted to highlight that the Employer has insurance in place for university property. If you have experienced property damage following these incidents, please submit a claim here. Note that not all costs are insurable. The Employer's claims adjusters will lead you through the claims process and identify what is or is not insured and any applicable deductibles.*
I understand these measures do not account for the myriad other consequences of damaged workplaces on our members. Please know that your union stands with you during this difficult time; if you have been negatively impacted and need advice or assistance, please reach out to our Labour Relations Officers here.
*An earlier version of this message contained inaccurate information regarding the Employer's insurance. This article was updated February 8 at 10:35 a.m. to reflect more accurately the Employer's insurance policy.