GREATER SUDBURY, November 28, 2022—Sealed documents made public as Laurentian University emerges from Companies’ Creditor Arrangement Act (CCAA) protection contain shocking details about the university’s senior leadership plans to cut 124 faculty and over 50 programs, regardless of whether they received government support or CCAA protection. The unsealed documents confirm that the university administration was intent on ramming through cuts and circumventing LUFA and the democratically elected university senate in the process.
The documents add more support to the Ontario Auditor General’s findings that Laurentian’s senior administration spent years planning to exploit the CCAA to gut programs and faculty positions at the university. The CCAA had never been used before at a public institution, however the correspondence shows that University President Robert Haché’s had plans to pursue the CCAA both with or without additional government funding.
“These documents are shocking in the detail they provide about Laurentian’s secret longstanding plans to gut the university by terminating over one-hundred faculty and slashing dozens of programs,” said LUFA President Fabrice Colin. “Further, this correspondence reveals the Ford government knew the university was in financial difficulties and planning cuts at least six months before the CCAA was triggered. This raises serious concerns about why this government did not do more.”
The Ford government has a responsibility to adequately fund and defend Ontario’s public universities. While the unsealed documents show the government was willing to provide a small amount of one-time funding and appoint a special advisor, this was clearly not enough. Ontario’s Auditor General and French Language Services Commissioner both found that the government failed in its obligations to support the university and protect its French language programming. It is alarming that, when the government’s initial offer was rejected, the Ford government stepped back and watched as the university was systematically dismantled.
“Laurentian’s faculty, staff, and students deserved better than the CCAA and the devastation it caused,” said Colin. “We deserved a university administration committed to protecting high-quality education, outstanding research, and good governance. We deserved a provincial government that valued public universities, faculty, and students. Instead, faculty who had dedicated their lives to the university were scapegoated and terminated.”
Now that LUFA is no longer constrained by the limitations imposed by CCAA, we will be using all of the tools at our disposal to hold the new university administration accountable and ensure that they implement improvements to governance that the faculty association has long called for and that the Auditor General recommended in her report. LUFA will also be advocating for sustainable investments to increase faculty complement and re-establish some of the important programs that were cut.
Further, LUFA will be calling on the provincial government to provide the funding necessary to, at the very least, ensure that faculty members and other staff unjustly terminated in the CCAA process receive the full severance payments to which they are entitled. In this way, the government can begin to mitigate some of the damage caused by their irresponsible inaction.
LUFA was founded in 1979 and, prior to the CCAA proceedings, represented over 400 full-time and 300 part-time professors at Laurentian University, the University of Sudbury, Huntington University, and Thorneloe University. Today, LUFA represents roughly 250 full-time and 200 part-time professors at Laurentian University. For more information about LUFA, visit: www.lufappul.ca.
For questions or to arrange an interview, please contact: Fabrice Colin at [email protected] or 705-698-6763