President Lenton Lobbies Ford Government to Exempt Universities from COVID-19 Restrictions

The CUPE 3903 Executive Sent The Following Letter to President Lenton:

Dear President Lenton,

We write to express our great disappointment that the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), on which you sit as York University’s representative, has been lobbying the Ford government to exempt universities from indoor capacity limits designed to protect against COVID-19 risks. As our colleagues at the University of Toronto Faculty Association argue, there is no justifiable scientific reason for this action.

Our members expect that their employer will act in the interests of their health and safety at all times, and that protecting both our members, the wider York community and their loved ones from COVID-19 must take precedence over any other goals that the university has. As we have stated many times, we want to return to in-person teaching, but we must be able to do so safely. 

Arbitrary disregard for the scientific consensus on COVID-19 transmission and how best to mitigate it is unacceptable. While the vaccine requirement on campus is a prudent step and a powerful tool to mitigate COVID-19 transmission, it is not enough on its own. Indoor masking, adequate ventilation and appropriate capacity limits and physical distancing are also essential. For the COU to seemingly suggest that educational settings are somehow unique compared to other indoor activities and thus should be exempt from physical distancing measures deemed necessary in other indoor settings is absurd. 

We join our colleagues at the University of Toronto in calling for York to push back against the misguided and dangerous lobbying conducted by the COU, and to affirm your commitment to following the best scientific advice instead of pushing for unsafe exemptions that put all of us at greater risk.

We look forward to your response.