The Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU) is supporting provincial and federal government efforts to resolve the current health crisis and is reiterating its spirit of openness and willingness to collaborate with public authorities to find harmonious, effective solutions for the challenges that relate to the current situation.

In the university context, we believe that it is important to implement solutions adapted to the needs of students, as well as to the abilities of university faculty members, and to prioritize respect for individuals and their living conditions.


With respect for the autonomy of FQPPU member unions and associations, this document aims to provide information to such groups in relation to their dealings with university administrations and their own members.


During the current crisis, our team is working hard to ensure that various services are provided.

Elected members and members of the professional team of the FQPPU are working remotely for an indeterminate period.

The following events, which were planned for the upcoming months, have been cancelled:

  • Federal council meeting that was to be held in April 2020
  • ACFAS conference on equity, diversity, and inclusion, which was to be held on May 5, 2020
  • All working committee meetings

The FQPPU offices are also closed until further notice.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Last update: April 16, 2020


Q1: What measures were announced by the Quebec government in relation to higher education?

Orders-in-Council and Ministerial Orders

The Quebec government passed Order in Council 177-2020 on March 13, 2020. The order in council provided that “during the public health emergency […], educational institutions must suspend their educational services” for a period of ten days.

Next, on March 20, 2020, Order in Council 222-2020 was passed to renew the public health emergency until March 29, 2020. The order in council provides for “the closing of educational institutions or of any other place of assembly”, but does not renew the provision to suspend educational services.


The Minister of Health and Social Services, Danielle McCann, has issued a number of orders over the past few weeks to clarify the scope of certain emergency measures and prohibitions related to the orders-in-council. As of yet, none of these orders have related to higher education.


MEES Guidelines

On March 17, 2020, MEES published guidelines for university administrations in a question and answer format.[1] The guidelines addressed, in particular, the matter of online courses and stipulated that “institutions of higher learning may provide the remainder of their classes online, so long as they do not require staff members to be present in the institutions” [our translation]. They also specify that “planning to offer distance learning, if applicable, should be carried out in collaboration with representatives of the teaching staff concerned” [our translation].

MEES reiterated that CEGEP, college, and university campuses were to remain closed until March 27 inclusively and that all unnecessary or non-essential teaching and research activities were to be suspended until further notice. Related activities such as room rental and sports and cultural activities were also affected by the closure.

However, these guidelines were since modified, and the mention of collaboration with representatives of the teaching staff has disappeared. The only reference to online courses is the following sentence: “College and university students will be able to complete their winter term online.”

The updated guidelines also stipulate that wages will be maintained for all staff members under contract, including university professors.

[1] This version is no longer available on the MEES website.


Published March 24, 2020

Q2: What are the legal obligations of university administrations in the context of the current health crisis?

Collective agreements and legislation that governs work in Quebec, such as the Labour Code and the Act respecting labour standards, continue to apply in the academic setting. Other legislation also applies in the current situation, including the Public Health Act, the Act respecting occupational health and safety, and the Civil Code of Québec. If you have any doubts about the legality of the measures undertaken by your university, we invite you to contact a lawyer.

Order in Council 222-2020 also provides that the time periods for bringing an action relating to matters heard by Quebec’s administrative tribunals, including the Administrative Labour Tribunal, are suspended until the period of the declaration of a public health emergency expires, except for the matters deemed urgent by the chair of one of those bodies or by a member the chair designates for that purpose.


Published March 24, 2020


Q3: Will the Winter 2020 academic term end on time?

With the makeup measures that will be implemented, the Winter 2020 term should end in late April, in line with previously existing academic calendars. However, certain courses and internships may require extensions beyond this time frame. When work contracts specifically involve the academic calendar, unions and associations must come to an agreement with the employer about appropriate provisions and document them in a letter of understanding.

Published, March 24 2020

Q4: What guidelines should be implemented for the completion of the Winter 2020 academic term in the context of the pandemic?

Today, on March 27, the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU) reached out to the Minister of Education and Higher Education, Jean-François Roberge, to contribute to the reflection process being undertaken by the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (MEES) and to present the Minister with guideline proposals for the completion of the Winter 2020 academic term.

The FQPPU wanted to emphasize that many of our colleagues are facing major work-life balance challenges, and as a result, we are asking that the measures for the completion of the semester take such challenges into account.

Three proposals in the form of principles were submitted to the Minister to guide what will happen moving forward:

  • Students would have the possibility of obtaining a “Satisfactory” grade for a course if they received passing grades on the assessments conducted thus far. They would therefore receive the credits for the course.
  • Students would have the possibility of withdrawing from the course without receiving a failing grade if they have not yet been assessed or if the grade that they had received thus far does not allow for meeting the requirements of the course. This option would involve tuition reimbursement for the course in question.
  • Depending on the nature of the course being offered, when instructors are prepared to do so and when they consider it relevant, they may continue to teach their courses remotely, either online or through their choice of other arrangements, starting on March 30, 2020. Students would thus obtain a final grade that would be included in the calculation of their GPA. In all cases, the terms for continuing teaching and assessments must be decided by the person responsible for teaching.

Published March 27, 2020


Q5: What methods can be used to continue teaching activities?

Many teaching delivery methods are possible, e.g., by sending students course notes and documents, texts, bibliographies, data, drawings, photographs, images, or tables, by assigning them guided readings, or by creating videos.

Instructors can also create and disseminate their teaching activities online, synchronously, through platforms such as Zoom or Skype, or asynchronously, through recorded videos or demonstrations using Panopto, for example. Faculty members should receive assistance from their institution’s techno-pedagogy services team to create and disseminate these types of videos.

However, it is of the utmost importance that all recorded content be available to watch afterwards, so as to take into account individual students’ situations.


 Published, March 24 2020

Q6: What does distance education mean?

As mentioned in the MEES guidelines from March 17, 2020, existing distance education courses, which have been offered online since the start of the term, may continue as planned, provided that they do not require staff members to be present in institutions.

For courses that were given in the classroom setting, universities are asking faculty members to “suggest alternative activities to achieve learning objectives”[1] [our translation]. These activities will be provided remotely through learning platforms such as Moodle. It is clear that in a number of cases, this will not correspond with what is meant by a true online course, since it will not be possible to have the same resources, preparation time, or prior validation process.

In this regard, professors and lecturers, through their expertise and academic freedom, are the only ones able to determine the nature of the methods and activities needed to continue the teaching process and ensure that students are properly assessed.

[1] Ibid.

Published, March 24 2020

Important guidelines for turning in-person courses into distance learning courses

Since March 13, distance education via videoconferencing, online, or through other methods, has become a major operations issue for our universities in the context of the health crisis.

Certain university administrations are currently imposing on their professors inaccurate, abusive, or illegal guidelines.

The FQPPU has been informed that colleagues have been pressured, and even bullied, by means of insistent demands by their administrations, which are urging them to remotely teach the remaining classes of the semester that have been interrupted by the health crisis. Several unions have notified the FQPPU of the distress being expressed by their members, as well as of the disorder caused by certain makeshift, hasty, or inconsistent guidelines.

We would like to stress that Order in Council 177-2020 of March 13, 2020, concerning the declaration of a public health emergency in accordance with section 118 of the Public Health Act provides that during the public health emergency, “educational institutions must suspend their educational and instructional services.”  

The FQPPU would like to reiterate that, pursuant to the order in council, professors do not have to follow directives that violate the order in council, which takes precedence over the demands of university administrations.

Moreover, it seems that the guidelines provided by the Quebec government to university administrations are to the effect that planning for the provision of distance education “should be carried out in collaboration with representatives of the teaching staff concerned” [our translation].

It also appears that in these same guidelines, the government specifies the scope of the order in council: “for the next two weeks, all unnecessary and non-essential[*] teaching and research activities are suspended at universities, CEGEPs and colleges.”

All of this is in line with the FQPPU’s calls to MEES that began over the weekend, namely for measures affecting teaching and research in the different universities to be established by means of negotiation with professors’ representatives from local unions and associations. We suggest looking at the mechanisms provided for in existing collective agreements, such as letters of understanding.

The FQPPU recommends that its members negotiate a letter of understanding with the employer before colleagues begin working to adapt their current in-class courses to other teaching formats, whether they use an online course approach or any other remote teaching solutions. 



Note: [*] Essential activities are defined by the government as activities that relate directly to the health crisis, e.g., health training sessions or training for social services staff.

Published, March 17 2020

Q7: What are the rules concerning intellectual property for content that is posted online?

Texts, documents, and videos created by faculty members should be subjected to the same intellectual property rules as content provided in class. As such, instructors should continue to be the copyright holders for all of the content they develop, whether it is recorded or not, as well as of exams, assignment instructions, and assessment grids that are sent to students by email or through learning platforms.

The current health crisis should in no case be used as an excuse to circumvent intellectual property rules. As a result, the reproduction and dissemination of learning content without express authorization should be strictly prohibited. We strongly encourage unions and associations to negotiate related provisions in letters of understanding aimed at guiding the continuation of courses in the context of the current crisis.


Published, March 24 2020

Q8: What does the FQPPU recommend in relation to resuming courses?

Given the severity of the current health crisis, the FQPPU recommends that its members be flexible. We think that it would be ideal for teaching activities to resume in universities where possible, even if there will inevitably be exceptions. Two principles must, however, be reaffirmed:

  • Teaching and learning assessment methods must be chosen by faculty members and other instructors. We strongly encourage unions and associations that represent professors to negotiate letters of understanding with the administration of their institution to facilitate the continuation of courses while accounting for the specific features of each institution, program, and field of study.
  • Accommodation measures should be proposed for professors in relation to the continuation of courses. These accommodations should take into account the family and personal situations of those responsible for teaching. Faculty members called in to assist in the health care system, parents of young children (as daycares and schools are closed), informal caregivers, individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, and individuals in self-isolation after returning from abroad, for example, should not be forced to continue their teaching activities or to adopt methods and formats that they have not chosen.

The FQPPU would like to point out that the main objective of the actions taken by MEES and university administrations is to ensure the health and safety of faculty members, employees, and students. The measures that will be adopted to regulate the end of the Winter 2020 academic term must be flexible and demonstrate openness, “while taking into account specific features of various disciplines, as well as of the content and nature of the pedagogical activities”[1] [our translation] and students’ personal situations and ability to access materials.

[1] UQAM. 2020. Info coronavirus (COVID-19): Accueil [Coronovirus (COVID-19) Info: Welcome].

Published, March 24 2020


Q9: What methods can be used to assess students?

In some institutions, discussions have been initiated to end the Winter 2020 term as of now. For example, at UQAR, in consultation with the unions, the administration decided to implement specific arrangements with regard to assessment for the Winter 2020 term. These arrangements involve providing a satisfactory grade, “S,” for students who had already submitted assessments. This grade means that students have met the course requirements, and the credits are thus recognized for the program of study. Students who had not yet been assessed or whose grades were not high enough to receive an “S” grade will be deemed to have withdrawn from the course; they will not receive a refund, and a failing grade will not appear on their academic record. In both situations, the grade will not be included in the calculation of students’ GPAs.

This model should be considered and assessed across the board, since the pandemic is drastically modifying students’ living and studying conditions, as well as professors’ living and working conditions.


Finally, it is also possible to consider other forms of assessment than those initially planned to take place in class, such as take-home exams. The instructions and nature of the activities, as well as the exam questions can then be sent to students by email or via learning platforms such as Moodle. It would be up to professors and lecturers to choose appropriate assessment methods.

Published, March 24 2020

Q10: Will our teaching be evaluated by students?

Teaching carried out in the current context should not be evaluated by the students. In fact, several universities have announced that course evaluations by students will be cancelled for the Winter 2020 term. We recommend that unions and associations that are members of the FQPPU ensure that these commitments are honoured given that these courses will continue under unusual conditions.

Published, March 24 2020

Q11: What about comprehensive examinations and thesis defences?

Some institutions have announced that thesis defences and oral examinations will take place remotely. It is important for universities to be flexible with regard to enforcing academic regulations if defences must be delayed.

Published, March 24 2020


Q12: Which research activites can be maintained during the COVID-19 crisis?

In accordance with the guidelines set out by the Direction de la santé publique, administrations have declared that all on-site activities and experiments that are not urgent and that will not lead to a major loss of data have been postponed until further notice. However, researchers working with materials for which human attention is needed (plants, cell cultures, and animals) may access the relevant spaces on campus after obtaining authorization from their administration.

Research activities aimed at addressing the COVID-19 threat are to continue and are even to be prioritized, while respecting social distancing measures in effect. All other research activities can take place remotely, as long as they remain compliant with the ethics certification in effect for the research project.

Published, April 15 2020


Q13: What about research involving human subjects and field research?

A number of research projects that involve human subjects (studies, surveys, and interviews) or that require travel here or abroad are suspended until further notice,[1] pursuant to guidelines set out by public authorities.

[1] As of April 2, 2020, all research and creation activities conducted by professors that take place in centres, laboratories, or the field (whether they fall under the purview of universities or their affiliated centres) must be discontinued until May 1, 2020.


Published, April 15 2020


Q14: What impacts can be expected on the normal progression of research activities?

In addition to some research projects being put on hold, delays are expected for a number of other research projects. As the work of administrative support staff in universities has slowed, it has led to delays with regard to grant application submissions, award notifications, signing of contracts, hiring of staff, purchasing of materials, etc. Slowdowns are also to be expected in the evaluation of applications for internal funding and ethics approval for studies. The lack of access to technical resources needed to conduct research may lead to delays in the normal progression of activities. Finally, delays are also expected to occur because universities are prioritizing the evaluation of proposals directly related to COVID-19 until the end of the public health emergency. It goes without saying that these impacts will affect the entire academic community.

Published, April 15 2020


Q15: What impacts can be expected on research productivity?

The growing gaps—which will continue to grow—between the conditions for conducting various studies will, of course, have consequences on the advancement of knowledge and on scientific production (e.g., on career progression and on obtaining funding internally and through public funding agencies). In the coming months and years, the FQPPU and its member unions and associations must take care to limit the negative effects of these delays by making representations to university administrations and funding agencies in order for mitigation measures to be implemented.

Published, April 15 2020


Q16: What impacts can be expected on the normal progression of research activities?

In addition to some research projects being put on hold, delays are expected for a number of other research projects. As the work of administrative support staff in universities has slowed, it has led to delays with regard to grant application submissions, award notifications, signing of contracts, hiring of staff, purchasing of materials, etc. Slowdowns are also to be expected in the evaluation of applications for internal funding and ethics approval for studies. The lack of access to technical resources needed to conduct research may lead to delays in the normal progression of activities. Finally, delays are also expected to occur because universities are prioritizing the evaluation of proposals directly related to COVID-19 until the end of the public health emergency. It goes without saying that these impacts will affect the entire academic community.

Published, April 15 2020


Q17: What are the possible impacts on the overall funding of academic research?

The scale of the measures and programs implemented by the federal and provincial governments could affect research and science budgets for years to come, in the context of an increase in public debt.[1] Moreover, significant monetary resources are currently being funnelled into health care and research related to the pandemic. Internal research funding may also be affected. Changes to the amounts of funds provided to federal and provincial public bodies that fund scientific research must be monitored, and we must ensure that balance is returned in the funding of academic disciplines, for example, in the months and years after the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end.


[1] Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. (2020, March 27). “Scenario Analysis: COVID-19 Pandemic and Oil Price Shocks.”–scenario-analysis-covid-19-pandemic-oil-price-shocks–analyse-scenario-chocs-dus-pandemie-covid-19-chute-prix-petrole.

Published, April 15 2020


Q18: What is the position of public bodies that fund research?

The main public bodies that fund academic research (federal: SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR; Quebec: FRQs) reacted quickly to the upheaval caused by the pandemic and have acknowledged the impact of the crisis on research. For example, professors will be able to request grant extensions and will also be able to be reimbursed for costs incurred for academic events that were postponed. Some universities have chosen to contact the relevant funding agencies directly to lighten the load of their professors.

We nevertheless recommend that our members regularly consult the information available on the SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR websites. Universities have also prepared FAQ sections on their websites to better respond to concerns related to research (see Appendix 1 of this information note). For more specific questions about individual cases, it is best to contact your university’s office of research directly.

Published, April 15 2020

– – – Published, March 24 2020 – – –

The federal granting agencies have responded after receiving many questions about the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on their operations, policies, and programs. Over the coming days and weeks, the presidents of these organizations will periodically disseminate, through press releases, revised application deadlines and deadlines to submit reports. One thing is certain: the research councils will continue operating. More specific information is available and regularly updated on the SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR websites.

Chief Scientist Rémi Quirion released a statement (available in French only) on March 20 to inform grant holders that Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) operations will continue in a rather normal manner, despite the exceptional circumstances. More specific information is available on the FRQSC, FRQNT, and FRQS websites. The FQPPU is in contact with the FRQs and will be able to keep you informed of developments as they are announced.


Q19: What should we make of the prioritization of research proposals related to COVID-19?

The three federal research councils and the Fonds de recherche du Québec decided to set aside significant amounts of funding for studies that address the challenges of the pandemic. While the urgency of the situation makes this mobilization of resources quite understandable, the FQPPU wishes to ensure that the processes for evaluating proposals and awarding funding will be conducted in accordance with the principles of collegiality that are in effect and to ensure that when things “return to normal,” funding will be distributed in a balanced manner between the various academic disciplines.

Published, April 15 2020

Q20: What role should the FQPPU play with regard to research during and after the pandemic?

During the global pandemic, science and academic research have gained more visibility in the public sphere. For several years, however, we have been facing widespread fake news and skepticism toward scientific and academic work. The essential role of science and academic research must be maintained and strengthened by public authorities in the coming years, given that it is a matter of public interest, as has been clearly demonstrated during the current crisis.

The FQPPU plans to continue its work of raising awareness among governments and the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, in particular, about the role that science, and more specifically academic research, should play in guiding and serving as the basis of sound and informed political and policy decisions. At the same time, we plan to emphasize to public authorities the importance of maintaining and increasing consistent funding for scientific research in all academic disciplines. Finally, the FQPPU and its member unions and associations would like to closely monitor budgets for academic research in the coming years to ensure that adequate funding is provided to all academic disciplines and different types of research, whether applied, basic, or otherwise.

 Published, April 15 2020


Q21: Could the grievance process be delayed?

It is important to ensure that procedures for submitting and processing grievances are respected and to note, in particular, that universities have 10 to 15 business days to render their decision after a grievance is submitted, based on collective agreements in effect.

If a decision is deemed unsatisfactory, the professor and union have 25 to 30 working days to ask to convene a grievance or labour relations committee. Unless the university announces a delay or one is negotiated through a letter of understanding, grievance committee meetings planned for the spring are to be held remotely. Some grievances cannot be discussed remotely by a joint grievance committee for various reasons. It would thus be necessary to extend the deadline for the grievance process.

For grievances submitted to arbitration or for other matters that involve litigation, the cancellation of all in-person hearings and conciliation meetings until May 1, 2020, by the Tribunal administratif du travail could lead to delays in case processing. Therefore, clauses in collective agreements that set the response time for the arbitrator at 30 to 45 days, depending on the university, will not be able to be complied with.


It is therefore important for your letter of understanding with the employer to address deadlines and procedures for reviewing and settling grievances.


 Published, April 16 2020

Q22: Could there be delays in the processes for tenure applications, promotion requests, and professors’ evaluations?


Departmental, faculty, or university committees charged with reviewing these applications have until between mid-March and mid-May, depending on the university, to pass along their decisions and recommendations to the relevant deans or to the university’s board of governors. The university’s decision must then be announced to the professors within the periods set out in the collective agreement.

In the case of their evaluation, faculty members may contest the decision of the departmental assembly and request an appeal from a review committee.


It is therefore important for your letter of understanding with the employer to define the framework, conditions, and periods, so as to ensure adherence to procedures related to file reviews, the possible transmission of documents, and review committees.


Published, April 16 2020

Q23: How will teaching be evaluated for the Winter 2020 academic term?

While universities have cancelled the course evaluation process completed by students, it is important to note that an “S,” or a clear indication of the exceptional circumstances of the Winter 2020 semester, will be included in the files of professors, so as not to penalize them in future tenure applications or requests for promotion.

Published, April 16 2020

Q24: Can certain expenses incurred while working at home be reimbursed?

While unable to access their offices, faculty members should be able to be reimbursed for expenses related to working from home, including those for Internet access or long-distance calls, when such expenses surpass the usual amounts for the household.

Universities should also prepare, as is the case for lecturers who so request them, Canada Revenue Agency T2200 forms (“Declaration of Conditions of Employment”), which allow for deducting certain expenses associated with working from home from professors’ income. 

 Published, April 16 2020

Q25: What happens for sabbaticals?

If you are currently on sabbatical (or carrying out a year of study and research) and you are unable to carry out the research activities listed in your work plan because you are unable to conduct your studies, because you do not have access to your data or your research laboratory, or because your research trip abroad has been cancelled, your sabbatical can be fully carried forward to a subsequent term or year.

For those who are set to go on sabbatical for the Fall 2020 academic term, you should be permitted to carry the sabbatical forward. With the agreement of your department chair, you should be able to go on sabbatical during a subsequent term.

In spite of these possible delays, care should be taken to ensure that professors who wish to go on sabbatical in the coming years may exercise this privilege without prejudice. 

 Published, April 16 2020


The order in council declaring the public health emergency takes precedence over the directives of university presidents

In the past few hours, university presidents have been sending directives aimed at instructing professors to develop educational formats to ensure that remote teaching can take place via various electronic means.

Order in Council 177-2020 of March 13, 2020, concerning the declaration of a public health emergency in accordance with section 118 of the Public Health Act provides that during the public health emergency, “educational institutions must suspend their educational and instructional services.”

The FQPPU would thus like to reiterate that, pursuant to the order in council, professors do not have to follow directives that violate the order in council. In addition to using the order in council, unions may raise the issue of academic freedom to contest the employer’s decision, as a number of collective agreements explicitly recognize this right. 

Q26: What are professors’ obligations?

Professors must take the necessary measures to ensure that they are not endangering the health, safety, or physical well-being of other persons at or near their workplace, according to section 49 of the Act respecting occupational health and safety.

Public health directives are also clear in this regard and provide that if individuals present with cold or flu symptoms, they must “self-isolate” for 14 days; however, such directives do not include the obligations of the employer in relation to the employee’s wages. An arbitration award was rendered in the school sector concerning measures taken to prevent the spread of influenza A (H1N1) virus. In this matter(*), the adjudicator ordered the school board to pay the wages and benefits of its staff members who had to stay home as a preventative measure following an order made by Quebec’s Director of Public Health. The adjudicator considered, in particular, that the measure taken by the Director of Public Health and the Ministère de l’Éducation was not a voluntary measure, but an obligation.

This decision could be useful in the event that educational institutions reopen, since the public health directives provide that if a case is confirmed in an institution in the education network, the Ministère will proceed with an immediate closure of the institution for a minimum duration of 14 days or until all students and staff members are tested.

For more information

Order in council of the Minister of Health and Social Services, issued on March 13, 2020:

Questions and answers from the Commission des normes sur la santé et sécurité au travail:

 (*) Syndicat de l’enseignement de la région de la Métis c. Commission scolaire des Monts et Marées, SAE 8527.

Published, March 16 2020

Q27: Is it possible to exercise the right of refusal to work?

During this period in which institutions are closed, some professors must nevertheless go into work. This is the case for those who work with animals and are responsible for ensuring that there are no major impacts on the well-being of the animals. The right of refusal is provided for in sections 12 to 31 of the Act respecting occupational health and safety, and to be entitled to such a right, professors must have reasonable grounds to believe that they would be exposed to danger to their health. In the current context, it would be difficult to conclude that danger is present. 


Published, March 16 2020

Q28: What about for a professor who is pregnant?

Professors who are pregnant may stop working before consulting with their doctors by informing the university of the grounds for their immediate withdrawal. The danger (COVID-19) must be present in the workplace. Professors must consult with their doctor as soon as possible to obtain the re-assignment certificate and submit it to the university.


Published, March 16 2020

Q29: Will there be compensation in the event of contamination?

In general, it seems that employees that have symptoms of COVID-19, that have received a diagnosis, or that have received a quarantine order are qualifying for disability compensation from insurance companies.

Published, March 16 2020

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