March 26, 2021 - No. 22
Fight to Defend Educational Institutions
University of Alberta Staff Launch
Mass Campaign to Protect Post-Secondary Education
Laurentian University in Bankruptcy Protection
• Ruling Elite Put Public University at the Mercy of the Financial Oligarchy
• Outcry for End to CCAA Proceedings
• Faculty Association Launches Online Petition
• For Your Information on Laurentian University
Fight to Defend Educational Institutions
The nearly 4,000 workers making up the
Association of Academic Staff at the University of Alberta (AASUA) are
taking matters into their own hands to protect the future of the
university and Alberta, after Jason Kenney and the UCP government's
devastating 2021 budget.
are concerned about our province's future and that's why we are
stepping forward to protect it with a campaign to mobilize our 4,000
members alongside the entire U of A community and beyond," said AASUA
President, Ricardo Acuña. "Our university drives innovation and
makes our province strong. Now is when we should be
investing in our future and protecting Alberta, not cutting it like the
Kenney government has recklessly done."
"In the 2021 UCP provincial budget, the University of Alberta's
provincial grant has been cut again by a further 11 per cent, which is
$60.1 million, or almost half of the total cut to Alberta's
post-secondary sector. This means that while 25 per cent of the
province's students attend the U of A, our school will bear 50 per cent
reduction in funding."
Given these extraordinarily challenging times at the U of A, the
AASUA, which is made up of the university's educators, researchers,
librarians and administrative professionals, is launching the largest
campaign in its history. Called, "Protect Our Future: For Our
University. For Alberta," the campaign will mobilize thousands of AASUA
members, the broader U of A community of workers and students, as well
as Albertans across the province.
A petition in support of the campaign can be signed at ProtectOurFuture.ca
"These are not normal times at the U of A and by attacking our
university, the Kenney government is taking a jackhammer to the very
foundation of Alberta's history and its future," said Acuña. "We
are launching our campaign knowing we are up against huge challenges.
But now more than ever, we need to come together to protect our
future for our university and for Alberta."
Laurentian University in Bankruptcy Protection
Professors, staff, students and community in shock to learn that Laurentian University in Sudbury is in bankruptcy protection.
The financial oligarchy put Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario under Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act
(CCAA) bankruptcy protection on February 1, 2021. The CCAA is a
fraudulent weapon in the hands of the most powerful oligarchs to secure
their private holdings in a property. The CCAA is designed to deny
workers what belongs to them by right, violate the interests of
the local community and broader society, and seize the holdings of
smaller unsecured creditors.
Laurentian University workers and others in the community are
demanding to know how a public university could even find itself in
this terrible situation. Many are demanding to know what CCAA has to do
with providing our youth with a post-secondary education. Laurentian
University is an important institution that is supposed to be
funded publicly to serve the common good. That such a crucial
institution of nation-building could be put into this mess is a
testament to how low the country has sunk under the anti-social
offensive of the last thirty years.
By refusing to build and fund the university in northern Ontario and
instead handing it over to the oligarchs to make maximum profit and
otherwise serve their interests, the ruling elite have in effect
prepared the conditions to wreck any semblance of nation-building and
the right to education.
Laurentian is the first Canadian post-secondary educational
institution to be forced into bankruptcy protection under the CCAA.
People across the country cannot allow this to become a precedent. The
CCAA attack on Laurentian is an opening shot against all public
universities in Canada to turn them completely into private enterprises
the oligarchy's thirst for maximum profit. This must not pass!
The notorious Ernst and Young, which has fattened itself for decades
on the CCAA at the expense of workers and communities throughout
Canada, will be the "court-appointed monitor" to divide up Laurentian's
assets and ensure that the interests of the university workers, staff,
students and community are blocked from even being heard.
Superior Court Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz gave Laurentian
University until April 30 to present a CCAA plan designed to
restructure its operations and its finances. By issuing such a dictate,
the court showed its colours of not giving a damn about the right to
education but only in defending private property, which presumably is
owed a lot of money by the university. The justice authorized $25
million of Debtor in Possession (DIP) financing for the university to
borrow to continue its operations for three months. Under CCAA rules,
DIP lenders leap to first in line for seizure of property if their
debts are not repaid.
In his ruling, Justice Morawetz said the university was entitled but
not required, from the date of the filing, to pay "all outstanding and
future wages, salaries, employee and retiree benefits... pension
benefits or contributions, vacation pay etc ."
Justice Morawetz wrote later, on February 12, that Laurentian would
have the right under the CCAA dictate to permanently or temporarily
cease, downsize or shut down any of its business and operations and to
terminate the employment of its employees or temporarily lay off them
off as the university deems appropriate.
The court order is legal within Canada's civil society where
property rights deprive the people of the rights they have by virtue of
being human. This is the problem and dictate the people face within the
current Canadian economic, political and legal system. This is the
challenge the people face to affirm their rights such as the right to
their livelihood and job security as well as to education, etc. Only
the organized people have the power of numbers, social
consciousness and outlook to build the nation to serve the people and
put an end to these attacks on their rights.
For his part the President of Laurentian University who presumably
is supposed to defend the interests of the university, its staff,
students and the right to education, made an open threat in the Sudbury Star
on March 20 saying, "If we're not successful in mediation with all the
different parties and the recommendation to senate is turned
down, the university will cease to function as of April 30. It is not
an if, and or maybe -- that's when the money runs out."
Thirty years of neo-liberal anti-social nation-wrecking has brought
us to this: When no money is left to pay the rich, the financial
oligarchy will shut the country down.
Workers' Forum joins the chorus of anger over these attacks
on northern Ontario, the youth, workers, the right to education and
society itself. Administrators who are appointed to run a business not
an educational establishment should be replaced with those appointed
by professors and staff who are dedicated educators. Universities
should be organized and financed in a manner which achieves the right
to a higher education for all who want it on a modern basis. People
expect universities to fulfil a duty to the society and uphold
the right to education for all.
All levels of government must immediately increase their investments
in social programs including Laurentian University. All enterprises in
the country that employ Laurentian graduates or otherwise use the
thought material the university produces must immediately pay for those
services and value and together with increased government
investment put the finances of the university on a firm modern footing.
This outrage against the youth, workers and others in northern Ontario must cease immediately.
Take Back Laurentian University from the Hands of the Financial Oligarchs!
Stop Paying the Rich! Increase Investments in Social Programs!
March 11, 2021. Rally at Sault Ste. Marie office of Minister of Colleges
Demands grow for increased government funding for Laurentian University and the right to education for all.
All sectors of the community in northern Ontario are condemning the
dealings of the Laurentian University administration with the Ontario
Ford government and their declaration of insolvency and application for
protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). This outrage has occurred behind the backs of the
faculty, staff, students and the communities in northern Ontario that are served by the University.
Who Decides? The People Decide!
This CCAA ambush begs the key question facing everyone: Who Decides? The
system of governance at Laurentian and other post-secondary
institutions disempowers those who should be the decision-makers. The
system empowers private entrepreneurs who have no stake in the academic
mission of the institutions, in the
development of the communities and in nation-building. The broad
opposition to this dictate takes many forms but raises the singular
demand for nation-building not nation-wrecking and for this to happen
the people must be empowered to decide.
faculty, staff, retirees, students and concerned members of the Sudbury
community are speaking out and finding creative ways of defending their
interests. They have organized a group called Save Our Sudbury --
Sauvons Sudbury (SOS) with a Facebook page of the same name to
advance this work, where information and
comments and expressions of support are posted. SOS organized a virtual
Town Hall meeting on March 3 co-hosted by Jamie West, MPP for Sudbury,
and fourth-year student Katlyn Kotila in which over 500 people
participated. The demand of the meeting was that the province must
provide secure funding for Laurentian.
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
In a statement posted on its website on March 9 the Ontario
Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) denounced the
CCAA process writing, "Laurentian University President Robert
Haché's recent claim that the Companies Creditors' Arrangement Act (CCAA)
process provides a constructive format to
engage with stakeholders is not reflected in reality. Instead, the
costly CCAA process reduces students, faculty, and staff to the status
of creditors, from which the university seeks to protect itself."
OCUFA condemned the "unprecedented, inappropriate, and costly
decision to seek CCAA protection" by the University administration
because. it writes, "In this process, faculty, staff, and students are
placed in an untenable position where the university is trying to force
them to take cuts to programs, jobs, and research. Students, faculty,
staff should not have to pay the price for the poor governance
practices of an underfunded public institution."
Sault Ste. Marie District Labour Council
The Sault Ste. Marie District Labour Council on March 11 joined with
the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations to hold a
lively rally at the office of the Minister of Colleges and
Universities, Ross Romano in Sault Ste. Marie. Workers from private and
public sector unions rallied to demand that the CCAA process be
stopped and the government provide proper funding for Laurentian.
Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA)
LUFA, representing 612 faculty members at Laurentian and its
federated universities: the University of Sudbury, Huntington
University and Thorneloe University, resolutely opposes the actions of
the administration. Charlie Sinclair, counsel for LUFA, said the
association is currently in contract talks with Laurentian and the
concerned that the university will use the CCAA proceedings to
eliminate programs and jobs that it would not be able to achieve
through collective bargaining.
"The university is going to use the insolvency process to
achieve concessions (from the union)," he said. "I just want the
parties to know LUFA is up to the challenge. While we have been
negotiating in good faith, it's not LUFA and its members who put the
university in this position and it's not up to members alone to clean
Canadian Union of Public Employees
CUPE writes, "The pandemic has exposed chronic underfunding of
universities, which are increasingly reliant on tuition fees and
private sources of funding. While many major universities in urban
centers continue to attract students and private donations, schools in
smaller communities such as Laurentian are struggling in the pandemic
due to declining enrolment rates, exacerbated by the four per cent
reduction in government funding for universities in 2019."
Ontario Branch of the Canadian Federation of Students
The Ontario Branch of the CFS writes, "Laurentian is also known for
its tricultural mandate and, in particular, offering a hub for
Indigenous learning and research. These programs are now faced with
funding cuts that are a major loss to the local communities that
benefit from such research. Northern communities thrive on the
and employment opportunities generated by the University. The news from
Laurentian University needs to be a wake-up call to the provincial
government that Ontario's post-secondary institutions are underfunded
and cannot take any more austerity."
The Fédération québécoise des professeures et
professeurs d'université (FQPPU)
In a statement issued on March 17 the FQPPU, which represents
university faculty in Quebec, "urges the Ontario Minister of Colleges
and Universities, Ross Romano, and the Ford government to work with the
various parties, in particular the Laurentian University Faculty
Association (LUFA), to find solutions to Laurentian's funding
problems. A fundamental aspect of the mission of this institution is to
offer university courses to the Francophone and Indigenous peoples of
Northern Ontario. The maintenance of these programs is vital to the
social and economic development of these communities."
The following petition was initiated by the
Laurentian University Faculty Association to mobilize public support
for the demands of faculty, staff, students and the community to end
the CCAA process and provide proper funding for the university.
"Dear Premier Ford, Prime Minister Trudeau, and Ministers Romano and Joly,
I am writing to affirm that Laurentian University is a public
institution, not a private sector corporation. As such, I urge you to
provide the necessary short-term and long-term funding so that we can
put an end to Laurentian's insolvency and stop these inappropriate and
costly legal proceedings.
you know, Laurentian University is a public post-secondary institution
with a tri-cultural mandate to support French, English, and Indigenous
communities. As a result, both the provincial and federal levels of
government have a responsibility to help ensure that Laurentian has the
operating funds needed to secure the institution's future.
The root source of Laurentian University's financial problems is a
lack of transparent and accountable institutional governance that has
resulted in arbitrary, unilateral decisions being made behind closed
doors. The Laurentian University Faculty Association has repeatedly
raised concerns about the secretive and non-consultative approach the
university administration has taken to making important financial
decisions. These decisions, combined with the steady erosion of public
funding, have now put the future of Laurentian University, its
programs, students' educations, and jobs at risk.
The provincial government has five representatives on the Board of
Governors who should have been providing oversight and good governance.
Instead, they joined with the senior administration and other Board
members in making irresponsible financial decisions.
Faculty, staff, and students should not have to pay the price for
the poor governance practices of an underfunded public institution.
Therefore, I call on the provincial and federal governments to
immediately step up and provide the long-term operating funding needed
to secure the future of Laurentian University and put an end to these
needless insolvency proceedings. In addition, I call on the provincial
government to remove its appointees to the Laurentian University
Board of Governors, who have clearly neglected their duties and
To sign the petition, click here.
Laurentian University located in Sudbury was
founded in 1960 and is the largest university in northern Ontario with
9,000 full-time, part-time and online students. The university offers
programs in English and French and to a significant number of
Anishinaabe students. It has been instrumental in the creation of three
other universities in northern Ontario: Algoma University in Sault Ste.
Marie, Nipissing University in North Bay and l'Université de
Laurentian is affiliated with the Northern Ontario School of
Medicine, in collaboration with Thunder Bay's Lakehead University, and
with the McEwen School of Architecture, which opened in 2013 as the
first new school of architecture in Canada in 45 years, and which has
played a role in renewing the downtown core of Sudbury. The
university is an essential institution to provide post-secondary
education to the youth of Sudbury and northeastern Ontario.
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