Report: Governing Council - March 30, 2023

Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall

The Governing Council

MARCH 30, 2023

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL held on March 30, 2023 at 4:30 p.m.  in the Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall.

Pursuant to section 28 (e) and 38 of By-Law Number 2,
consideration of item 10 took place in camera.

Janet L. Ecker (Chair), Anna Kennedy (Vice-Chair), Meric S. Gertler (President), Sharleen Ahmed, Glen Bandiera, David Bowden, Vikram Chadalawada, Robert Cooper, Ann Curran, Sotirios Damouras, Sonu Gaind, Mathangi (Indi) Gopinathan, Sandra Hanington, Maureen Harquail, Summer Hart, Paul Huyer, Sarosh Jamal, Madeline Kalda, Shashi Kant, Scott MacKendrick, Kikelomo Lawal,  Jan Mahrt-Smith, Douglas McDougall, Joanne McNamara, Eha Naylor, Veronica Wadey, Grace Westcott, Joseph Wong, Mary-Agnes Wilson, David Zingg, Lara Zink

Sheree Drummond (Secretary of the Governing Council)

Janet Cloud, Teo Dechev, Annabelle Dravid, Susan Froom, Alexandra Gillespie, Jessica Johnson, Dveeta Lal, Sameer Lal, Ernest Lam, Mark Lautens, Ron Levi, Rajiv Mathur, Arman Rasekh, Ryan Teschner, Nhung Tran, Danielle Skipp, Geeta Yadav

In Attendance:
Cheryl Regehr (Provost), Scott Mabury (Vice-President, University Operations and Real Estate Partnerships), David Palmer (Vice-President, University Advancement), Jeff Lennon (Assistant Vice-President, Planning & Budget), Susan McCahan (Vice-Provost Academic Programs and Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education), Sandy Welsh (Vice-Provost Students), Bryn MacPherson (Assistant Vice-President, Office of the President and Chief of Protocol), Nadina Jamison (Chief Strategy Officer, Office of the President), Archana Sridhar (Assistant Provost), Kristin Taylor (University Counsel and Chief Legal Officer), Joyce Hahn (Chief Administrative Officer, Division of the Vice-President & Provost), Susan Mazza (Special Projects Officer, Office of the President),  KimEija Taipaleenmaki (College of Electors), Firdaus Sadid (Governor elect), Helen Tewolde (Office of the Vice-Provost, Students), David Curtin (Communications, Office of the President), Lexey Burns (The Varsity), Nawa Tahir (The Varsity), Brian Madden (Governor elect), Maëlis Barre (President, University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU)), Alistair Kirk (Vice President External, UTMSU), Jaime Kearns (President, Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students (APUS))

Anwar Kazimi, Joanne Chou

  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting. She opened her remarks by thanking members that participated in the recent Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre workshops that had been provided to governors.  She also mentioned the upcoming symposium on the 50th anniversary of the Governing Council scheduled for May 12th.

    The Chair highlighted the election results for the 2023-2024 governance year. She noted the re-election of three governors and that there would be a third and final call for nominations in the Fall for unfilled part-time undergraduate student seats. The Chair thanked the Chief Returning Officer, Deputy Returning Officers, and the Elections Committee for their hard work overseeing the elections process.

    With regard to the meeting, the Chair advised that a speaking request from the University of Toronto Mississauga Students' Union (UTMSU), to address the Governing Council on Item 3, Tuition Fees and Budget, had been granted.

  2. Report of the President

    The Chair invited the President to offer his report.

    Federal Updates

    The President began his report by noting that the federal budget was released on March 28th and that there was little positive news for the post-secondary sector. He summarized a few main points of the budget, including:

  • An increase to the Canada Student Grant of up to $4,200 a year for full-time students; however the temporary, pandemic-related increase was also discontinued;
  • No new funding support for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows; and
  • No funding increases to the Tri-council agencies’ budgets.

    The President reflected on these disappointing results, given the strong advocacy efforts by U of T, the U15, Universities Canada and others to increase supports for graduate students and the granting council budgets. He noted that the government did indicate that they were reviewing the recent Report of the Advisory Panel on the Research Support System, with the hope that the government would follow its recommendations in the coming year.  The President explained that the Advisory Panel on the Research Support System was launched in October 2022, with a mandate to advise the Government on how to update the federal system supporting academic research, to improve coordination and maximize impact. The Panel’s Report noted that Canada’s federal research support was falling behind peer countries around the world, as they have made ambitious investments in their research capabilities. The Report called for increasing funding levels for the Research Councils by 10 percent per year for five years, which was in line with U15 and Universities Canada’s recommendations. The Report also stated the importance of increasing funding for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to internationally competitive levels, signalling the potential loss of talent if action was not taken soon.

    A central recommendation of the Panel’s Report was the creation of a new Canadian Knowledge and Science Foundation (CKSF) to support and encourage time-sensitive, international, inter-disciplinary and mission-driven research in Canada. The CKSF would be designed to streamline the administrative aspects of Canada’s research support system, with an emphasis on the importance of inclusive excellence in Canada’s research system. The Report recommended a timeline for implementation, beginning in 2023. The President remarked that this was a critical time for the entire post-secondary sector across Canada to come together and urge the Government to recommit to Canadian research as soon as possible.

    The President then noted that the federal government announced amendments to the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act. The Act came into effect on January 1, 2023, as part of the Government’s strategy to make housing more affordable for Canadians. It had created an unintended effect of prohibiting newcomers to Canada from buying homes, including new faculty and staff recruited by Canadian universities.  In collaboration with Universities Canada and the U15, U of T successfully advocated for an amendment to exempt holders of work permits from this prohibition, effective immediately.

    Provincial Updates

    The President noted that the provincial Budget was released on March 23rd. It was described as a “stay-the-course” budget by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU). The budget announced some positive investments in healthcare education:
  • In nursing, the government committed about $80 million to expand nursing enrolment in universities and colleges, funding new spaces for registered nurses, registered practical nurses, and nurse practitioners.
  • In medical education, the government invested about $33 million to add additional undergraduate MD spaces, as well as postgraduate spaces, including medical trainees.
  • Funding for training opportunities for 6000 health care students to work in hospitals.

    Additional commitments included:
  • Mitacs received support for 6,500 undergraduate and graduate research internships.
  • For Entrepreneurship initiatives, a commitment of $15 million over 3 years for the Racialized and Indigenous Supports for Entrepreneurs (RAISE) Grant Program, and an additional $3 million in the Black Youth Action Plan. This funding would supplement U of T’s own investments in inclusive excellence and entrepreneurship.
  • For infrastructure initiatives, $124 million was allocated for universities for 2023-24 infrastructure funding, a slight increase from the previous year of $121.8 million.
  • For mental health initiatives, the budget committed $425 million over 3 years for mental health and addiction services. Further details are expected should this funding be available to universities and college. .

    The President remarked that while the budget takes steps to rebuild Ontario’s health-care system and spur economic growth, it did not address Ontario’s universities’ broader needs to support students and develop a talented workforce. He also noted that following the government’s 10% tuition cut in 2019, the general freeze on post-secondary tuition rates for domestic Ontario-resident students has continued for a fourth year.

    The President also highlighted that the provincial government had announced the establishment of the Blue-Ribbon Panel on Post-Secondary Education, chaired by Alan Harrison, former Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) at Queen's University, and special advisor to the Province regarding Laurentian University's financial sustainability.  The Panel would provide advice and recommendations to the government on financial sustainability for the sector and advise on long-term tuition fee policy.

    Citing the government announcement, the President noted that the Panel’s work would be guided by several principles, including:
  • Enhancing student experience and access
  • Rewarding excellence and financial sustainability
  • Improving labour market alignment
  • Promoting economic growth and prosperity; and
  • Keeping education affordable for lower and middle-income families.

    Over the coming months, the Panel would conduct research and consultations with key stakeholders, including U of T, and the University would ensure its priorities were well represented in these discussions.


    The President then turned to reflect on his recent institutional trip to Tokyo, Japan. The President hosted an alumni reception, and met with the Canadian Ambassador to Japan, His Excellency Ian McKay.

    The President noted that the primary purpose of the trip was to chair a meeting of the U7+ Alliance, an international coalition of university presidents advancing the role of universities in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. He explained that U of T was a founding member of the Alliance and that he was privileged to serve as Chair of the U7+ Presidential Steering Committee.

    At the U7+ Alliance meeting, leaders from more than 40 universities in 16 countries signed the Tokyo Statement on Peace and Security calling on G7 leaders to prioritize and advance peace and security, working collaboratively with universities.

    President Gertler stated that he was honoured to present the U7+ Tokyo Statement on Peace and Security: Universities as Engines of Innovation for Peace and Security to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on behalf of the Alliance. Japan would be hosting the upcoming Group of Seven (G7) Summit in Hiroshima in May 2023. Acknowledging the recent one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the President noted that the Statement was a timely reminder of the important role that universities play in building peaceful and sustainable democracies.

    A member asked about the difference between the U7+ Alliance and the U15, and the President responded that the U7+ was an international alliance of university presidents from the G7 nations, and that the ‘+’referred to the addition of university leaders from beyond the G7 nations, including countries from the Global South.  The U15 was an association of the fifteen leading research universities across Canada.
  1. Tuition Fees and Budget

    The Provost provided an overview of the key priorities in the Budget Report 2023-24 and Long-Range Budget Guidelines 2022-23 to 2026-27. She reported that the University continued to be in strong financial shape but was entering a period of slowing revenue growth and rising inflationary pressures that would require some tougher decisions and innovations. She also noted that the Long-Range Budget Guidelines planned for a balanced budget in each of the five years of the plan. Professor Regehr reported that the total budgeted operating revenue of $3.36 billion for 2023-24 was an increase of $124 million over the previous year. The Budget reflected a freeze in domestic tuition fees, increased diversified international enrolment, and a continued shift in the balance of funding between tuition and provincial operating grants. Despite inflation challenges, demand for programs continued to be strong both domestically and internationally. Key budget priorities were focused on additional investments in information security, mental health and equity, diversity & inclusion supports and initiatives, student advising systems, research staffing, faculty recruitment and services, funding to sustain library services and collections, and capital projects and infrastructure.

    Professor Doug MacDougall, Chair of the Academic Board, then commented on the discussion of the item at that body. He reported that:
  • Discussion focused on international student enrolment and performance metrics.

  • The percentage of international students had risen in recent years and were set to stabilize in the coming years. International enrolment remained consistent with other Canadian universities and was significantly lower than peer institutions in the United Kingdom and Australia.
  • Planned increases to international student tuition were considerably lower than increases at peer institutions.
  • The University would continue to invest in scholarships and bursaries to support international students as these strategies had been successful in diversifying incoming classes.
  • No domestic students were displaced by international students as the number of domestic spots available was set by the provincial government.
  • A member questioned whether international students remained in Canada post-graduation and whether the University’s international recruitment strategy risked the emigration of highly trained and educated people from their home countries. In reply, the Provost indicated that grants such as the one from the Mastercard Foundation were now focused on partnering with the University of Toronto to build capacity in source countries.
  • The remainder of the discussion focused on performance-based provincial funding and the metrics used. The University had met or exceeded the targets set, and it continued to engage with the government on the choice of metrics, which largely aligned with many of the University’s priorities.
  • The University would continue to take a prominent role in shaping those discussions as it was anticipated that recommendations from the recently announced Blue Ribbon Panel on the financial sustainability of the post-secondary education sector would impact the Strategic Mandate Agreement process and the metrics used.

    Ms. Sandra Hanington, Chair of the Business Board, then commented on the discussion of the item at that body. She reported that:
  • Members had several questions and comments about the operating reserve funds and divisional reserves as part of the budget.

  • There were ongoing strategic efforts to reduce reserves to between 5-10% of the budget. Divisional operating reserves were 11% for 2022.
  • A member recalled that as part of the budget and tuition discussion last year, there had been an issue raised about the fee differential related to the Computer Science program in the Faculty of Arts and Science. The Provost advised that a separate degree would now be established.
  • The Board recommended for approval the Tuition Fee Schedules and noted that the motion for the Publicly Funded Tuition Fee Schedule reflected two possible schedules - 0% increase and a 3% increase, provided an interim tuition fee framework is introduced by the Province.
  • The Board concurred with the Academic Board’s recommendation to approve the Budget and Long-Range Budget Guidelines.

    In the discussion that followed, the Provost added the following:
  • In reference to ‘Undergraduate Net Tuition’, the graph reflected the additional government subsidies and student grants. Financial assistance would be based on student need and eligibility. The portion of tuition fees paid by students could increase if the government ceased certain subsidies and grants.

  • The government subsidies affected domestic students only and did not affect enrollment numbers in the past; enrollment-related revenues were projected to increase.

    The Chair then invited the representative from the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) to address the Council.
  • Ms Maëlis Barre expressed comments about the tuition fee schedule and addressed the rising tuition costs that made higher education inaccessible. She mentioned the over-reliance on student tuition fees which was unsustainable. She advocated for a reliable tuition framework that included government funding to support post-secondary institutions and students. She encouraged fairness for international students, academic advocacy, and funding supports such as awards and grants.  UTMSU and student unions across Canada, alongside the Canadian Federation of Students, had lobbied the government to implement a new postsecondary act and tuition fee framework. 

    In response, the Provost thanked the speaker and commended UTMSU’s work in government advocacy. She mentioned that the administration would continue to work with student groups on this issue.

    In the discussion that followed, the Provost added the following in response to members’ questions:
  • The University had various revenue sources and government funding was now just 20%  of overall revenue sources.
  • Student enrolments drove the largest portion of the University’s operating revenues, and
  • domestic enrollment was regulated by the government.

  • The university had a focus on advocating for increased government funding – either per student or for special initiatives like capital projects – and exploring alternative sources of revenue.
  • The distributed budget model reflected a decentralized decision-making process that allowed for divisional budgetary allocations to align with evolving priorities and to respond to the financial impact of the pandemic and current rates of inflation. Examples of such decisions included changing hiring practices, and exploring other sources of revenue such as philanthropy, income from real estate, and life-long learning initiatives.
    1. Annual Report on Student Financial Support 2021-22:  Vice-Provost, Strategic Enrolment Management

      The Annual Report was received for information.

    2. Tuition Fee Schedules for Publicly Funded Programs, 2023-24


      On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


      (a.) the 2023-24 tuition fees as described in Schedule 1 of the Tuition Fee Schedule for Publicly-Funded Programs 2023-24, be approved;

      (b.) the 2023-24 tuition fees as described in Schedule 2 of the Tuition Fee Schedule for Publicly-Funded Programs 2023-24, be approved;


      (c.) subject to the provisions in the Provincial Government’s Tuition Fee Framework, either Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 of the Tuition Fee Schedule for Publicly-Funded Programs 2023-24 be implemented.


    3. Tuition Fee Schedule for Self-Funded Programs, 2023-24


      On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


      THAT the Tuition Fee Schedule for Self-Funded Programs for 2023-24 be approved.


    4. Budget Report 2023-24 and Long-Range Budget Guidelines 2023-24 to 2027-28


      On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


      THAT the Budget Report 2023-24 be approved, and

      THAT the Long-Range Budget Guidelines 2023-24 to 2027-28 be approved in principle.


On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted and Item 4 approved.

  1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting of the Governing Council, February 15, 2023

    The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
  2. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  3. Reports for Information

    The following reports were received for information.
    1. Report Number 58 of the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus Council (March 7, 2023)
    2. Report Number 57 of the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Council (March 8, 2023)
    3. Report Number 233 of the University Affairs Board (March 1, 2023)
    4. Report Number 244 of the Academic Board (March 9, 2023)
    5. Report Number 270 of the Business Board (March 15, 2023)
    6. Report Number 540 of the Executive Committee (March 21, 2023)


  1. Date of Next Meeting – Thursday, May 18, 2023 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

    The Chair noted that the date of the next meeting was Thursday, May 18 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and would be held at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.
  2. Question Period

    There were no questions from members.
  3. Other Business

    There were no items of other business.

    The Governing Council moved in camera.


  1. Senior Appointments

    On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


    THAT Ron Saporta be appointed Acting Vice-President, Operations, effective May 1, 2023 until November 30, 2023. 


    On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


    THAT Christine Szustaczek be appointed as Vice-President, Communications, for a five-year term, effective May 15, 2023 until June 30, 2028.

    The meeting returned to open session.

The meeting adjourned at 5:39 p.m.

April 11, 2023