Confederation of Ontario University Staff Associations & Unions

Confédération des Associations de Personnel de Soutien des Universitiés de l'Ontario


Thank you for visiting COUSA. Using the Navigation panel on the left, please find more information about what COUSA is about, including its mandate, activities, and organizational structure. If you are interested in joining COUSA, select "Contact" to get in touch with us.


The Confederation:

  • Provides a mechanism for Ontario university non-academic staff organizations to share information on activities or trends which can affect the employment of their members;
  • Provides workshops for member organizations on important topical issues, such as labour law reform, pay equity, benefits costing, lobbying strategies, and negotiating skills;
  • Lobbies government in a unified way and advocates on behalf of Ontario staff to government and the public;
  • Provides a forum whereby member organizations may act collectively on a provincial basis.

Founded in 1974, the Confederation is an umbrella group of unionized and non-unionized staff organizations at Ontario universities. The membership includes administrative, clerical, professional and technical occupational groups.

COUSA embodies much of the diversity of organizational forms which characterize university employee groups. Ontario university staff are represented by both non-unionized associations and independent, provincial, national, and international unions.

COUSA is an organization which bridges this organizational fragmentation. All member groups, despite differences of legal status, parent organization and approach, share the vision that Ontario university staff need a common vehicle to pool information and interact with government. COUSA does not compete with but complements other organizations: all are welcome to join.

COUSA is an effective way for Ontario university staff to reach beyond their local employee-employer relationship and make an impact on the ultimate employer: government and the public.

We invite all Ontario university staff groups to join together under the COUSA umbrella.


Delegates of COUSA meet three times a year to share detailed information and participate in workshops. COUSA conferences and workshops are also frequently attended by non-member groups from within Ontario and by groups from outside the province who value the networking and information sharing role provided by COUSA.

COUSA periodically meets with:

the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities;
the Minister of Education;
other provincial Ministers and MPPs;
senior provincial civil servants;
Education Critics and Members of opposition parties;
coalitions of educational and other public sector employee organizations.

COUSA is a founding member of the Coalition for Post-Secondary Education, along with our university sector partners: OUC, OCUFA, CFS-O, OUSA and college sector partner OPSEU.

COUSA conducts comparative surveys among member groups, sets up task forces to respond to government initiatives, and participates on committees that have strategic importance to university staff.

COUSA workshops have included:

  • forum for senior provincial legislators to debate education and funding issues in the university sector
  • dispute resolution by Brian Switzman, Labour Consultant;
  • Pay Equity with Victoria Reaume and Crystal Stewart of Cavalluzzo, Hayes, Shilton, McIntyre & Cornish;
  • communicating through social media by Anthony Marco and Kara Hiltz, OSSTF
  • public sector wage restraint legislation with representatives from USW, OPSEU, CAW, OCUFA, SEIU and COUSA members
  • workplace harassment and bullying, Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act by Shirley Riva and Catharine Burr
  • pension challenges for Ontario Universities


COUSA is composed of employee groups in Ontario universities.

Every member group of COUSA is entitled to two voting delegates. Delegates meet three times a year to decide COUSA policy and activities. COUSA delegates elect an Executive, consisting of a President, Vice-President External, Vice-President Internal, Executive Secretary, and Treasurer.

COUSA is funded by individual member groups, which pay a yearly fee for each of their dues-paying members.

The COUSA Executive, delegates and past delegates carry out most activities of COUSA on a voluntary basis.

The activities of COUSA have changed dramatically over the years to respond to the rapidly changing environment of Ontario universities. COUSA advocates the interests of the non-academic staff at Ontario's universities and provides good value for its member groups.