The University of Toronto has withdrawn its proposal for a mandated leave policy and will be bringing it to Governing Council later this year.
The move follows a last-minute request by Ontario’s human rights commissioner that the university take more time to review the policy, which had been scheduled to go before Governing Council next week.
“Out of respect to the commissioner, and to ensure that the best interests of our students continue to be addressed, the university will take additional time to consider her comments and provide a thorough and thoughtful response,” said Sandy Welsh, vice-provost, students. “The policy incorporates points raised earlier by the commission, as well as feedback from students, faculty and staff and this has led to a better policy.”
The proposed policy is one component of U of T’s overall mental health framework, which improves programs and services to enhance student health and wellness. It also stems from a recommendation of the U of T ombudsperson in 2014-2015.
The proposed policy, which emphasizes the review of supports available to a student, includes provisions for a non-punitive voluntary leave as well as for a non-punitive mandated leave.
“Mandated leave would only be considered for the extremely rare cases where a student is experiencing a mental health crisis so severe that it is in their best interest to put their studies on hold and focus on their recovery,” Welsh said.
“It’s designed to be used only in exceptional circumstances and only with very significant procedural safeguards for students. A rigorous approach to exploring accommodations and any supports that might allow the student to continue in their studies without taking a leave is the first step under this policy, and a mandated leave would be recommended very rarely.”