Report: Planning and Budget Committee - May 06, 2021

Via Virtual Meeting

Thursday, May 6, 2021

To the Academic Board, 
University of Toronto 

Your Committee reports that it held a virtual meeting on Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 3:10 p.m. virtually, with the following members present:  
Jan K. Mahrt-Smith (Chair),  Mark Lautens (Vice Chair),  Brian Lawson, (Vice-Chair, Governing Council), Cheryl Regehr (Vice-President and Provost),  Scott  Mabury (Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships),  Trevor Rodgers (Assistant Vice-President, Planning & Budget),  Adanna Y. Chigbo, Carol Chin, ,  Lisa R. Dolovich,  Markus D. Dubber,  Sarosh Jamal,  Ernest W.N. Lam,  Joanne McNamara,  Nicole  Mideo,  Fabian Parsch, Grace Ann Westcott,  Melanie A. Woodin 
Adalsteinn (Steini) I. D. Brown, Ettore V. Damiano, Amy Mullin, Marium Nur Vahed, Matt Ratto

Christine E. Burke (Assistant Vice-President, University Planning), Saher  Fazilat (Chief Administrative Officer, UTM)

Tracey Gameiro, Secretary 
Elizabeth Cragg, Director, Office of the Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships
Steve Easterbrook, Director, School of the Environment, Faculty of Arts & Science
Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity
Gretchen Kerr, Incoming Dean, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education
Poppy Lockwoord, Vice-Dean, Academic, Planning, Faculty of Arts & Science
Daniella Mallinick, Director, Academic Programs, Planning & Quality Assurance,   
   Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs
Archana Sridhar, Assistant Provost, Office of the Vice-President and Provost



  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members to the final meeting of the 2021-2022 academic year and thanked them for their valuable service to the Committee.  
  2. Assessors’ Reports 

    The Committee received a report from the Vice-President & Provost, Professor Cheryl Regehr and the Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, Professor Scott Mabury.

    Professor Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost

    The Provost began her report with brief update on enrolment advising members that early indications were that acceptance rates from international students were up 10% from the previous year, and that enrolment numbers generally looked promising for the upcoming Fall term.

    Professor Regehr then provided the Committee with an update on the University’s COVID response and adaptation, highlighting the following:
    • following extensive advocacy, Immigration Canada had announced on April 27, 2021, that all international students who had completed their applications by May 15, 2021 would be notified of their visa status by August 6, 2021, allowing them to arrive in Toronto on time for the fall term;  
    • as of May 1, 2021 the vaccine clinic at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus had administered close to 100,000 vaccinations since opening in March 2021;
    • the St. George campus vaccine clinic had administered more than 11,000 doses and had developed a partnership with Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health and Na-Me-Res to provide culturally appropriate and safe vaccinations to the downtown Toronto Indigenous community, with more than 800 vaccinations having been provided to those community members; and
    • in response to provincial needs, the University of Toronto Scarborough clinic remained focused on testing, but was poised to assist with the vaccine roll-out as required. 

In response to members’ questions regarding international students, the Provost indicated that the University had received a great deal of support from the government. The federal government had made the same commitment regarding expedited visa processing times to students from all countries.  In addition, the provincial government had recently announced that students having gone through the University’s quarantine program would no longer be required to take a third COVID-19 test on the 14th day of quarantine, provided the test result from the 10th date was negative.  This was welcome news as delays in lab processing times had often delayed students return travel.

The University had been in contact with students registered with U of T’s quarantine programs who had scheduled travel impacted by recently announced flight suspensions from India and Pakistan into Canada, and continued to communicate closely with all international students regarding 

Professor Scott Mabury, Vice-President Operations and Real Estate Partnerships

Professor Mabury provided the following updates:


  • enhanced user security with Multi-Factor-Authentication (“MFA”) remained a priority; 
  • MFA adoption rates by staff were up to 70%;
  • the focus had now switched to threat protection around research with adoption faculty on track with roll-out plans at 8%.

  1. Waste Water Surveillance
    • the rapid screening pilot project continued and was being used for all large occupancy residences, and focused on high interaction and essential service groups, to detect potential COVID cases; the process was voluntary, took 15 minutes to complete, and was integrated with the University’s UCheck program. 
  2. Ventilation
    • all classrooms across all campuses had been tested to confirm that ventilation systems provided 6 air changes per hour (“ACH”), which was the ideal level recommended by experts and used in most hospital emergency rooms;
    • most classrooms were already equipped with ventilations systems providing 6 ACH, those that did not had been fitted with supplemental air change purifiers; 
    • classrooms where installation of supplemental air change purifiers was not practical (e.g. Convocation Hall, where the air volume was so great), would not be recommended for in-person instruction in the Fall term;
    • all HVAC systems across the tri-campus had been reviewed, and where not already applied MERV-13 filters were installed in all compatible locations;
    • ventilation systems which where programmed were scheduled to turn on 2 hours before the start of the regular work day to ensure appropriate air flushing pre-occupancy;
    • the tri-campus HVAC strategy had been updated;
  3. COVID Response and Adaptation Dashboard
    • a highly integrated dashboard was planned that would enunciate the 12 strategies that were part of the University’s plan in preparation for a return to on-campus activities;
    • this plan had been adjudicated by experts and would be adjusted based on feedback received;
    • the goal of the project was to provide access to a consolidated bank of information to address questions of concern and interest to the University of Toronto community;

Capital Projects

  • university construction had been exempted by the provincial from the most recent lockdown restrictions and as such progress on capital projects had not slowed;
  • the University maintained significant oversight over all projects and had made clear to contractors that nothing short of exemplary adherence to COVID guidelines and requirements would be accepted;
  • a number of the larger sites were conducting rapid testing of all construction staff twice weekly;
  • work on all projects had been expedited to complete as much construction as possible prior to the resumption of campus activity in the Fall; 
  • overall projects were being delivered faster and with less impacts than originally planned.

    As part of the ensuing discussion, Professor Mabury clarified that: 
  • construction on the Landmark project would not preclude graduation ceremonies;
  • waste water testing was automatic with composite samples collected twice a week;
  • U of T researchers were exploring with innovative ‘passive’ samplers as a way to advance waste water surveillance.
  1. Proposal to Establish an Extra-Departmental Unit A (EDU:A): Faculty of Arts & Science, School of the Environment (EDU:B)

    Following introductory remarks by the Provost, Professor Poppy Lockwood, Vice-Dean, Academic Planning at the Faculty of Arts & Science (“FAS”), and Professor Steve Easterbrook, Director of the School of the Environment presented highlights of the proposal to transition the Faculty of Arts & Science, School of the Environment (“the School”) from an EDU:B to an EDU:A which included:
    • consultation was broad, and all bodies were supportive of the change;  
    • the proposed change would give the School a clearer role as an international leader in interdisciplinary environmental research and teaching; 
    • the School jointly offered seven undergraduate programs with other FAS units and supported two Collaborative Specializations;
    • the School’s new Master of Environment and Sustainability would open to admissions in 2021-22;
    • the transition to EDU:A status would enhance the research and teaching mission of the School by allowing it to make future strategic majority-appointed faculty hires and to serve as a stronger hub of interdisciplinary activity;
    • the existing governance structures in the academic unit would continue.

There were no questions from members.

On motion duly moved, seconded and carried


THAT the proposal to establish the School of the Environment, an (EDU: B), as an Extra-Departmental Unit Type A, as described in the proposal dated April 12, 2021, be approved effective July 1, 2021. 

  1. Academic Plan: University of Toronto Libraries (“UTL”), 2020-2025: Barrier-Free Access to All of the Right Information 

    The Planning and Budget Committee received the University of Toronto Libraries’ 2020-2025 academic plan, Barrier-Free Access to all the Right Information, for information. 

    The University’s Chief Librarian, Larry Alford, provided an overview of the plan speaking to the broad consultation process as well as the activities which would support UTL’s vision:
    • build robust research and data management tools;
    • preserve digital content;
    • build robust services to support digital research;
    • continue to contribute to the student experience with great space and innovative services;
    • digitize world class print and archival collections;
    • continue to build world class collections digitally and in print to support research with renewed attention to building diverse collections;
    • foster conversations around open access, including compliance with tri-agency and other funder requirements;
    • work with faculty and students to ensure students are wise and savvy users and consumers of information;
    • continue to focus on assessment with added emphasis on bibliometric analysis;
    • continue to diversify staff and focus on EDI and anti-racism.

In response to a member’s question regarding Keep@Downsview, UTL’s storage facility, Mr. Alford indicated that the collection was accessible to all University of Toronto students, and a shared enterprise, both in terms of preservation and cost sharing, among five partners.

  1. Annual Report: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2020-2021 

    The Committee received a presentation of the AODA annual report from Professor Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity.  The annual AODA report would also be presented to the University Affairs Board for Information.

    Professor Hannah-Moffat noted that the University had maintained its progress towards accessibility and inclusivity despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, and in fact used that experience to rethink and re-evaluate all of it’s activities through an accessible and inclusive lens.

    The AODA report focused on the areas the University was committed to making more accessible: built environment, communication, service delivery, pedagogical resources, mental health, and innovation and partnerships.

    In reply to a member’s comments regarding accessibility standards and guidelines for the development of mobile applications, Ben Poynton, AODA Officer, indicated that while current standards primarily address the development of accessible websites, those same principles of accessible design could be applied and embedded in application design. 

    On the question of how feedback on student experience surveys is considered by the AODA Office, Mr. Poynton noted that the Office works closely with Accessibility Services who regularly surveys students to ensure they offer responsive options and address barriers to access that stigma can create.
  2. Annual Report: Executive Committee of the Capital Project and Space Allocation  Committee (CaPS)

    The Annual Report of the CaPS Executive Committee was provided to the Committee for information.  The Committee received a presentation by Professor Scott Mabury, Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships on behalf of the Executive Committee of CaPS. A total of eighty-two projects, with budgets within the $100,000 to $5 million range, were approved by CaPS from January to December 2020.

    Professor Mabury provided an overview of a selection of projects and updated the status of each for the Committee.  During the reporting period, eighteen projects brought to the CaPS Executive Committee were approved (with a total expenditure of up to $22,165,944), to enable preliminary feasibility and design work to begin, prior to their submission for consideration by the boards and committees of Governing Council. 

    In response to a member’s question regarding comparative affordability of on-campus housing with off-campus options, Professor Mabury opined that units were priced competitively with like units in the broader Toronto market.  He stated that because the University owned the land of which its residences were built, it was often able to deliver more affordable units than the private sector. Professor Mabury reminded members that the overall financial aid commitment made by U of T included an assessment of housing costs.

    With regards to delaying capital projects in hopes of more favourable market conditions, Professor Mabury contended that costing was not anticipated to improve.  He pointed out that the University St. George campus was currently renting 717,000 square feet of commercial office space, more than ¾ of which was dedicated academic space.  The need for space was acute and immediate, and as such the University needed to be able to respond nimbly to the market.

    As part of his concluding remarks, Professor Mabury reported that green roof and active solar building designs were integral to the University’s design principles and considered in every project. He indicated that there was no expectation of any expiration or shorter life cycle of these roofs in comparison to conventional designs. 
  3. Annual Report: Design Review Committee 2020

    The Committee received the 2020 Annual Report of the Design Review Committee (“DRC”) for information and a presentation from Professor Scott Mabury, Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships and Ms Christine Burke, Assistant Vice-President, University Planning.

    Ms Burke highlighted several of the sixteen projects that were considered by the DRC in 2020.  

    There were no questions from members.


    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried 


    the consent agenda be adopted.
  4. Planning and Budget Terms of Reference – Minor Revisions

    Minor revisions to the Terms of Reference of the Planning and Budget Committee were received by the Committee for information.
  5. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 199 – April 13, 2021

    Report Number 199 of April 13, 2021, was approved.
  6. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting. 
  7. Date of the Next Meeting – September 23, 2021, 3:10 – 5:10 p.m.

    The Chair reminded members that the next meeting would be held on September 23, 2021.
  8. Other Business

    There were no items of other business. 

    The Chair thanked members, the assessors, and the secretary for their significant contributions over the past year. 

The meeting adjourned at 5:09 p.m.

May 7, 2021