Nursing School Consolidation

TO: All MUNFA Members

FROM: The MUNFA Executive Committee

DATE: October 12, 2023

SUBJECT: Nursing Consolidation

In June 2023, MUNFA was approached regarding a proposed plan to integrate staff at the Centre for Nursing Studies (CNS) and the Western Regional School of Nursing (WRSON) with Memorial’s Faculty of Nursing (MUNFON). This plan was also presented to current Academic Staff Members (ASMs) at the Faculty of Nursing on September 22, 2023, by Mr. Ian McKinnon of the University’s Nursing School Consolidation Task Force at their Academic Council meeting.

Following consultations with current ASMs at the Faculty of Nursing, MUNFA is unfortunately not prepared to accept the proposed plan as it stands. The proposed plan included a mechanism to create a new class of permanent, teaching-only ASMs at the Faculty of Nursing for staff from the CNS and WRSON. To do so, would not only exacerbate inequities among current Term Appointees in Nursing – many of whom are in their second decade of contractual status with the same or higher educational credentials as the CNS and WRSON staff – but for every Term Appointee at Memorial University, particularly for our long-serving Teaching Term Appointees. With no plan to grandparent in Term Appointees in Nursing under this scheme, and no means to address the inequities among Term Appointees in other faculties and units, the proposal as presented is simply unacceptable.

As a result of the most recent Collective Agreement, MUNFA, and the University recently struck a joint committee to investigate how a permanent teaching stream may be implemented at Memorial University. The committee’s work has only begun, but the MUNFA Executive Committee believes that their recommendations could provide important context for the integration of teaching staff from CNS and WRSON. The committee is scheduled to complete its work in 24 months. It is MUNFA’s understanding from speaking with ASMs in the Faculty of Nursing that maintaining the current structure will not affect the integrity of nursing education in our province, and high-quality instruction will continue to be offered at all sites.

As such, it was communicated by MUNFA to the University’s Nursing School Consolidation Task Force that the parties pause the integration of any external staff to Memorial until the permanent teaching stream committee completes its work. The MUNFA Executive Committee also asserted that if this timeline is not acceptable, they would encourage the Nursing School Consolidation Task Force to return with a new plan to integrate CNS and WRSON staff that considers at minimum the impact on current Term Appointees at the Faculty of Nursing. Any proposal that does not at least address grandparenting MUNFA’s current members into positions equivalent to those proposed, based on their qualifications and experience, will not work for MUNFA.

The MUNFA Executive Committee is further deeply concerned about the connections between this proposed plan and the recommendations of the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team (PERT) Report from 2021. This was a report that prioritized austerity, the slashing of public post-secondary budgets, and the subsequent devaluing of faculty, staff, and students. To quote the report, “The nursing schools must be combined to reduce operational costs, increase efficiency and standardize quality.” This reveals the true priority of this proposed plan to be cost-saving at the expense of our Nursing Faculty and colleagues spread across this province. This is unacceptable. See more on MUNFA’s response to the PERT Report here.

The MUNFA Executive Committee is committed to advocating for Term Appointees and Contract Academic Staff Members and pushing back against austerity measures like those outlined in the PERT Report. Nursing School Consolidation may be a welcome possibility for MUNFA in the future, but not without the proper prioritization and consideration of Nursing Faculty Term Appointees whose work and labour have been essential to Memorial for decades.