The UM needs more full-time academic staff, research funding for graduate students, and childcare support: An open letter to President Barnard about the University budget

March 21, 2018

Dear President Barnard,

At this time of year the administration is hard at work preparing the University’s budget. While we’re angry about the government’s decision to reduce the University’s operating grant and shift even more of the financial burden of higher education to students, it has to be acknowledged that tuition increases will likely more than cover the decrease in public funding. Similarly, the Association is once again forced to raise concerns about financial surpluses generated at the University: the financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2017 show that UM’s operating surplus before inter-fund transfers was $102 million. Given these choices and realities we owe it to our students to ensure that our budget priorities see more of our resources go to the University’s core functions of teaching and research and make this university the best place it can be for the entire university community.

To that end, as the new budget is developed I urge you to address three key priorities that I and my fellow UMFA members have strongly and consistently identified over the past two years:

1) Increased hiring of full time, permanent academic positions.

Instructors and professors continue to struggle with their heavy workloads, managing increased class sizes and graduate student supervision, and their service activities. Academic librarians face similar problems, with many librarians doing the work of two or more people. A strong faculty complement means we can provide the best student experience possible while performing the research necessary to advance knowledge in our fields and maintain and enhance UM’s reputation. In last year’s budget $3.6 million was allocated to faculty and support staff renewal in academic units. Nevertheless, members electing early retirement or leaving for other reasons contribute to the chronic under-staffing of our academic units. We ask the administration to make a commitment for faculty renewal as least as large as last year in the upcoming budget year.

2) Funding for graduate students

Competitive and stable funding for graduate students is desperately needed and would be transformative for UM and the members of the UM community. Five years of GETS funding – from 2011 to 2016 – led to a 30% increase in the number of graduate students per research faculty in science, taking us to 85% of the U15 average. GETS funding has since been rolled back, now funding a maximum of one graduate student per faculty member. Furthermore, GETS funding is tied to tri-council funding, which has been underfunded for decades, disadvantages basic science, and is subject to the whims of government (see the Get Science Right campaign at

This budget should include a robust program of multi-year guaranteed graduate student funding that is uncoupled from other faculty grant funding and accompanies students’ offer of admission would allow us to: 1) attract talented graduate students; 2) provide our graduate students with a fair and reasonable wage; 3) provide gifted and motivated TA’s to our undergraduate population; and 4) allow our faculty to strike a better balance between doing research versus chasing research funding.

3) Daycare spaces for the entire university community at Bannatyne

As the 2013 report of the UM Childcare Working Group indicated, childcare spaces are
desperately needed to serve the university community. The Fort Garry childcare chips away at that need, but many more spaces are needed and there are no childcare facilities at the Bannatyne campus or even in the surrounding neighborhood. With the construction of new buildings taking place at the downtown campus, now is the time to make space for a childcare facility.

We suggest that the administration create a non-profit daycare centre accommodating 100 childcare spaces to the university community at the Bannatyne campus, and that the premises be provided to the daycare centre by the university for $1 per year. The estimated cost would be $4.5 million in one-time capital funding, approximately the savings realized by the administration in UMFA wages during the 2016 3-week strike.

Cameron Morrill has been appointed by UMFA to be our representative on the UMFA Budget Advisory Committee. He is well versed in the financial situation of the University and the priorities of UMFA members, and we hope will serve as a useful resource to the committee.

Yours truly,
Janet Morrill
UMFA President

cc. Lynn Zapshala-Kelln, VP Administration
Harvey Secter, Chancellor
Tanjit Nagra, President, University of Manitoba Student Union
Carl Neumann, President, University of Manitoba Graduate Students’ Association
The Manitoban

Libraries and librarians are essential to a university education. Their work spans disciplines, faculties, and departments, creating an environment for meaningful research and study. Over the next two months we’ll be highlighting some of that work, as so much of it goes unseen.

Join us in acknowledging the importance of librarians on campus as they make research and higher learning possible through their work. We’ll be sharing librarian profiles on our website and social media channels to help demonstrate the wide variety of roles and responsibilities that librarians carry out every day.

There are so many ways that we make the UofM Happen!

Librarian Profiles

Name: Shelley Sweeney

University of Manitoba Archives

  1. What library do you work in? Does it serve a specific group on campus?

    I actually work in the UofM Archives which is not a library. Archives are a separate department from other libraries at the university. We’re the official archives for the UofM and we also house important archival materials from all over Manitoba. Another interesting thing to note is that a lot of the UofM archives were lost in the McIntyre Block fire and the flood in the 1950s, so we actually lost a lot of important archival materials in that disaster.

    In Archives, we serve students from all different fields and we’re available to any faculty, students, staff or members of the public. We have a lot of strong connections with other universities and their faculty and grad students who use our resources.IMG 1155
    We’re responsible for acquiring records and maintaining private collections that support research and study at the university and beyond.
  1. What made you decide to become an archivist?
    I have an undergraduate degree in Latin and my original plan was to continue studying in classical studies for my masters. One of my professors suggested that I go to the rare book library at the University of British Columbia where I was studying and from there I decided to pursue a master’s degree in archival studies at UBC.
  1. What does an average day look like for you as an archivist at the UofM?
    I meet with researchers, talk with donors, work with records, fundraise, and complete administrative tasks, to name a few things.
  1. What are your biggest daily challenges as an academic archivist?
    We often struggle with a lack of resources when it comes to staffing and physical space. We always have more work than we can handle, but we can’t let things slide. The archival records we’re working with are historic items that need time and attention given to them. We have a lot of private collections ending up in our archives. For example, we recently acquired all of the material from a local newspaper that shut down. All the records have to be moved and processed and there are issues of copyright and what can and can’t be digitized. Not to mention privacy issues and subscriber records. There’s a huge amount of work to do to organize and catalogue all these things and not enough people to do the work. Once we catalogue and process everything, we then need to make it available to the public with things like film nights, lectures, conferences, book launches, classes and tours.

    These things also require huge amounts of work. It’s a constant challenge.

    One of the other challenges we face is digitizing our records. We have millions of photos and artifacts and it’s next to impossible to create digital copies of every single one of these items, but more and more students and researchers need the digital copy.
  1. What do you think are the most common misconceptions about librarians on campus?
    People don’t see the person behind the material. They don’t see the people working behind the scenes to meet their needs and getting them the information or answers they are looking for. There’s a general lack of awareness of the archival profession, and this is probably because there aren’t very many of us, but we play a very important role on campus.
  1. Why are libraries important to university life?
    In archives, we’re here to help with the production of new knowledge. We provide raw records so people can produce original and unique research. We have the tools for students writing their PhD theses, writing books, creating films, etc. A great example of this is our Hamilton Family collection of séance photos. Those archival records are used all the time to write different papers and answer different questions. Those raw records allow people to discover new things all the time.
  1. What are some ways that students and staff on campus can make use of library services available to them?
    Students and staff can consult with us. They can call or email us to ask questions, examine our finding aids, or bring their classes to our space. We do consultations with grad students. We’re always trying to be proactive and inform people of things that might be useful to their research. IMG 1165
  1. The availability of online resources and electronic copies of textbooks and articles makes some people think we don’t need physical libraries or librarians anymore. What would you say to someone to convince them that this isn’t the case?
    Many items in our archives are digitally available. But it’s important for our purposes that the original is also still available. Sometimes there are aspects of the materials that we keep that can’t be scanned. People sometimes need to examine all sides of an archive or even smell it or hold it up to infrared light. The original piece is always critical.

    The digital revolution has transformed archives because now a lot of things are available to people 24/7 and the records are much more accessible. This is a really great thing. Digitization has brought attention to materials that people didn’t even know existed. People can ask for scans of records or answers to questions over email.

    Interestingly, our walk-through traffic has actually gone up significantly since we started to digitize some of our archives. People see value in actually holding or touching the records. For students, the chance to hold physical materials is unique and interesting and adds something to the educational experience that they just can’t get with online resources.
Archives & Special Collections
330 Elizabeth Dafoe Library
University of Manitoba
Phone: (204) 474-9986
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Name: Evelyn Bruneau

Library: Technical Services Department Elizabeth Dafoe Library

  1. What library do you work in? Does it serve a specific group on campus?
    I work behind the scenes in the Technical Services Department at the Elizabeth Dafoe Library, serving all groups on campus to ensure that access to electronic resources is available to all library patrons. As Electronic Resources Librarian, I am responsible for the coordination of the purchasing, licensing, access and maintenance of all electronic materials, but I am mainly responsible for the review and negotiation of license agreements for newly acquired and renewing resources.
  1. What made you decide to become a librarian?
    I have always wanted to work in a field where I could help people. My undergrad degree is in Human Ecology, Family Studies. When I began my library career, I was working as a Library Assistant in the Sciences and Technology Library, here at U of M. Over the years, I observed how librarians interacted with students and faculty: helping them with their research and information needs. After working my up through the library system, to where I am now in Technical Services, it became clear to me that, given my desire to help people, my love of research, and the joy I get from teaching, it was time to take the next step and pursue a career in librarianship. I earned my Master of Library and Information Science in 2013.
  1. What does an average day look like for you as a librarian at the UofM
    I am happy to say that there is no such thing as an average day for an Electronic Resources Librarian. Some days I will be working at breakneck speed all day, attending meetings, responding to urgent requests for information, negotiating licenses, and dealing with a flood of communications, all needing responses, while other days I could be meeting with resource vendors, or working on special projects. IMG 1197
  1. What are your biggest daily challenges as an academic librarian?
    My biggest daily challenges relate to the ever-changing landscape of electronic resources and the constant competing and changing priorities that go hand-in-hand with that landscape.
  1. What do you think are the most common misconceptions about librarians on campus?
    That technology and the availability of online resources has made our jobs redundant or irrelevant. In fact, new technologies allow librarians to use their time in different ways—ways that have a greater impact on the academic community.
  1. Why are libraries important to university life?
    Despite a move toward electronic resources, I believe the libraries are still the heart of the campus. The work that the library undertakes contributes directly to the University’s academic mission to help people create, preserve, and apply knowledge. They’re where students achieve success. I believe the Libraries also empower researchers to conduct research in faster, better and different ways, thereby supporting the innovative research being conducted at the University of Manitoba, which in turn contributes to the prestige of the university and attracts better faculty and graduate students.

    Our physical libraries on campus have become places where labs and research instruction happen. We have student services, study rooms, and work stations that support collaborative learning. And as you can see, the space is always packed with students.
  1. The availability of online resources and electronic copies of textbooks and articles makes some people think we don’t need physical libraries or librarians anymore. What would you say to someone to convince them that this isn’t the case?
    The availability of online resources only means that the way we receive, consume and digest information has changed, and along with this changing information landscape, librarian’s roles are changing to respond to user’s information needs. Librarians still help users cut through the vast of amounts of information available online, helping them to learn to ask better questions, find valid sources, and formulate search strategies, but the availability of online resources is also allowing librarians to dedicate their time to other services, and are moving into roles that are more specialized. We are spending more time in classrooms; we collaborate with faculty, and are becoming more involved in the research process by helping researchers to develop data management plans.
Elizabeth Dafoe Library
25 Chancellors Circle
University of Manitoba
Phone: 204.474.9844
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Name: Cody Fullerton

Library: Donald W. Craig Engineering Library and Elizabeth Dafoe Library

  1. What library do you work in? Does it serve a specific group on campus?
    I work in the areas of sciences and humanities. I’ll be moving from the Sciences and Technologies Library in Machray Hall to the engineering library shortly. I do liaison work with math and computer science when I’m working in the sciences library. When I’m working in Dafoe, I am the history liaison. This involves collection development and answering any questions from professors and students in any of these areas.
  1. What made you decide to become a librarian?
    I have a history degree from the University of North Dakota, but when it came to getting my master’s, I knew I didn’t want to make research my sole focus. I spent two weeks working in archives during my undergraduate degree which sparked my interest in library studies.
  1. What does an average day look like for you as a librarian at the UofM?
    My days mostly consist of responding to emails from coworkers, faculty, and students. I often answer questions about research and finding specific books. I also spend some of my time preparing for and teaching in classrooms.

    I do a lot of research. Right now I’m working on a project through the loan program with the Faculty of Engineering related to microcontrollers. I’m also currently working on a research project to assess how faculty members are using libraries when they’re studying Indigenous topics (what sorts of words they’re using when searching and how catalogues are being used). When this research is completed, a report will be produced that will determine if changes need to be made to the way information is catalogued within library systems regarding Indigenous topics.

    I’m on a number of committees, so part of my time is spent doing work for things like the accessibility committee which helps students who have challenges with accessing print materials.

    Sometimes I’m on call which means library assistants will call me with research questions and IMG 1148requests they need to pass on from students.
  1. What are your biggest daily challenges as an academic librarian?
    Students and faculty don’t often know what librarians actually do. Students sometimes think we’ll help write their papers for them, and I have to explain what my job consists of to people regularly. I don’t just put books away. My job is highly varied and involves a lot of research, teaching, and participation in the broader library community.
  1. What do you think are the most common misconceptions about librarians on campus?
    People just don’t understand what we do. Students come to university having only experienced their high school libraries and librarians who often play all roles in a setting like that. It’s not the same in the academic world. Librarians look at the bigger picture. We write policy, do research, and work with information literacy. We know how to handle information from the gathering process to the publishing stage. We know how to assess information for credibility and how to properly cite information in research.
  1. Why are libraries important to university life?
    University life is all about research, and to conduct research, you need libraries, their subscriptions, and the systems technicians that catalogue everything – everyone behind the scenes that people don’t think about.
  1. What are some ways that students and staff on campus can make use of library services available to them?
    Students can use libraries as a study space and a place for collaborative group projects. They can use librarians to help them with research and to navigate huge amounts of information for accuracy and relevancy. Staff and faculty can teach their students about library resources, or ask us to come to their classrooms. We can even help design readings for courses.
  1. The availability of online resources and electronic copies of textbooks and articles makes some people think we don’t need physical libraries or librarians anymore. What would you say to someone to convince them that this isn’t the case?
    The physical libraries on campus are always full. UofM doesn’t have a study hall, so our libraries act as an important study space for students. It’s also important to understand that access to online journals just isn’t possible without librarians to organize and facilitate these resources. There are many, many staff members behind the scenes making online resources accessible so that research on campus can be done effectively.

Name: Vickie Albrecht

Library: Sciences and Technology Library

  1. What library do you work in? Does it serve a specific group on campus?
    I serve in the Sciences and Technology Library, with a focus on the Department of Biological Sciences.
  1. What does an average day look like for you as a librarian at the UofM?
    No two days are the same. I spend a lot of time preparing for workshops and consultations.

    IMG 1126

    I also spend a lot of time staying up-to-date with current trends and technology through professional development. One thing that people might not know about librarians is that we also do a lot of professional service and giving back to the larger library world. I’m currently planning and co-chairing the Manitoba Librarians Conference in 2018. I am also the secretary for the Association of College and Research Libraries’ North Dakota and Manitoba Chapter.
  1. What do you think are the most common misconceptions about librarians on campus?
    I recently gave a lecture to a class of about 80-100 students explaining how they could make use of library resources. I gave the students a multiple choice question: what does a librarian do? The majority answered that librarians know about books, put books away in the stacks, and can show students how to print. The correct answer was assisting with gathering resources. Also, there’s a misconception that librarians aren’t academics – often times, even faculty don’t know that librarians do research and service just like professors. We write papers and articles, go to conferences, and take research leaves.
  1. Why are libraries important to university life?
    Libraries are information centres that transmit data throughout the entire university. Without libraries, it’s impossible to do research. We maintain subscriptions to journals, and purchase and curate content.
    Physical libraries are also a hub that people can go to if they’re lost or new to the university.
  1. What made you decide to become a librarian?
    Becoming a librarian was never my plan initially. I got an undergraduate degree in science and was heading towards a master’s degree in botany. I found that I was really strong when it came to looking up information and it was something I enjoyed a lot more than anything else. I decided to become a librarian because it was a lifestyle that appealed to me more than being a professor or working in a lab.
  1. The availability of online resources and electronic copies of textbooks and articles makes some people think we don’t need physical libraries or librarians anymore. What would you say to someone to convince them that this isn’t the case?
    Physical libraries are definitely changing as a result of more electronic resources. Libraries are now often spaces where people can socialize, eat, chat, and work on projects together. Libraries offer a space for IMG 1142collaborative work and places where students and faculty can have immediate access to the resources they need. As we continue to move towards more and more digitalization of resources, physical libraries will continue to change and adjust to keep up with the growth and volume of information available. We’ll always need librarians to specialize in disseminating the huge amount of information that is now available.
  1. What are some ways that students and staff on campus can make use of library services available to them?
    Anyone can come and ask me questions, anytime. It’s important for people to know that about librarians.
    We’re here for you. I can answer faculty and students questions about copyright, research, even things
    like resume and CV preparation.
Sciences and Technology Library
211 Machray Hall
University of Manitoba
Phone: 204-474-9281
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Look for more librarian profiles on our social media channels and website over the next few months:


Letter from the President

Hello everyone,

I am writing to provide you with an update on our Unfair Labour Practice complaint (ULP). As you all read in our message sent January 31, the Labour Board agreed with UMFA that the administration acted in bad faith when they failed to inform us that they had received instructions from the government to freeze our salaries and only offer a one-year contract. We’re in agreement with much in the decision, but have asked the Board to clarify and possibly reconsider a few of its points. 

As you also saw, the administration in their press release after the ULP decision “respectfully disagreed” with the Labour Board Decision and were “considering their options”. We were disappointed with their reaction because, at the very least, it casts doubt on the sincerity of any apology they might deliver as required by the Labour Board. The admin’s reaction also imperils future bargaining as they evidently would do the same thing again in the likely event that the government continues its bullying behind closed doors. A simple apology can go a long way in repairing relationships, and the administration has now denied that possibility.   

The admin has asked the Board to review and reverse its decision. It is painful to see our employer react to the Board’s decision in this way. Even if the Labour Board retracts its criticism of the administration’s actions in the current ULP, surely it will be a pyrrhic victory if these protracted battles and protests from the administration of their “innocence” bring employee relations, and our university, back to 2016.

So, where are we now? The relationship between UMFA and the administration was at a low point in Fall 2016, and I believe both sides had been trying to move forward in small steps since then. UMFA members care about this institution and how it fulfills its academic mission. That was foremost in all our minds as we walked the picket lines. It seems like the administration’s current actions are driven by vanity, and take us two steps backwards. Although this is the third time in ten years that this administration has been found guilty of an Unfair Labour Practice, and the second time in the past year alone, the administration is still hoping to portray itself as an “employer of choice” who has done nothing wrong and bears no responsibility for the 2016 Strike. We believe this attempt will be futile: in the second-last decision against the admin, delivered merely months ago, the Labour Board noted the following:

It is hardly surprising that the Faculty Association was exasperated by the University’s continued failure to recognize its exclusive bargaining rights. The University’s actions transgress upon perhaps the most fundamental principle of labour law. It is the Board’s view that such conduct by the University must stop. 

Through it all, UMFA is doing what is best for our members. Often that involves cooperation and collaboration with the administration. But if it requires that we fight, we will.

Janet Morrill
UMFA President

Check back here for more details regarding the Manitoba Labour Board decision.

For the joint press release from UMFA and the Manitoba Federation of Labour, click here.

ULP Press Release Page 1

For the full ULP Decision, click here.

054a 215 16 LRA Jan 29 2018 Reasons Page 01

For a summary of the results, click here.

 054 215 16 LRA Jan 29 2018 Order No 1651 Page 1

Press Coverage

Please note, some articles may not be available to view without a paid subscription to the news source.

U of Manitoba violated bargaining law during faculty strike, labour board rules

Editorial: Province's prints all over labour fiasco

Labour board finds U of M guilty of unfair labour practices

UMFA labour ruling part of bigger battle

Labour Board should enforce fine on the U of M administration

Profs Slam U of M for Labour Appeal

IMG 1189

Higher tuition fees in Manitoba will reduce university participation of youth from lower-income families, and discourage students from pursuing public interest careers, according to a report released today by the Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations (MOFA).

Key findings of the report include:

  • Tuition fee hikes negatively impact enrollment among low-income students;
  • Tuition fee hikes increase enrollment inequality, with students from well-off families taking the place of those from more modest backgrounds.
  • Higher tuition fees are linked to heavier debt loads for students at graduation.
  • Higher student debt impacts career choice, with students less likely to pursue public interest jobs.

With the potential for tuition to more than double over the next 10 years, the detriment to low income students will be great and ultimately cost Manitobans the opportunity to pursue higher education.

To read the full report, click here. 

What is the "We make UofM happen" campaign about?