FAUW stands in solidarity with colleagues at Laurentian, opposes creditor protection for the public university

The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo stands in solidarity with our colleagues from the Laurentian University Faculty Association / Association des professeures et professeurs de l’Université Laurentienne (LUFA/APPUL), who are facing grave threats to collegial governance and collective bargaining. On February 1, Laurentian University entered creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), which allows insolvent corporations to renegotiate their debts and potentially make dramatic changes to their labour agreements as well.

This is not the first time a public university in Canada has experienced financial distress, but it is to the best of our knowledge the first time one has sought creditor protection in this manner. The appropriate pathway forward is not creditor protection; it is a combination of support from the Ontario and federal governments to put Laurentian on a sustainable footing and (if needed) the implementation of the process for handling financial exigency already built into LUFA/APPUL’s agreement with Laurentian’s administration.

The crisis at Laurentian is not the fault of the university’s employees, and they should not be suffering as a result of mismanagement. To the contrary, as is true of university faculty and staff across the province, they have been doing astonishing work under extraordinarily challenging conditions since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this situation only exacerbates their difficult circumstances. FAUW supports our colleagues at LUFA/APPUL.

Additionally, FAUW:

  1. Opposes the use of the CCAA: Laurentian has a cash-flow problem, but clearly has access to substantial resources, and can be backstopped by the Ontario government while it gets its financial house in order. Universities are public institutions, not companies that need protection from creditors. Allowing this to proceed will set a terrible precedent for other public institutions.
  2. Calls on the Ontario government to reinvest in universities in general, and Laurentian, with its bilingual structure and focus on educating Anglo-Ontarian, Franco-Ontarian and Indigenous populations, in specific. This is a manufactured crisis, and the means to handle the problem are in the hands of the Ford government.
  3. Deplores the financial mismanagement of the Laurentian University administration, which has burned through research accounts, retiree health-care premiums, and more while hiding the extent to which it was spiraling into financial disaster. We call for a renewed emphasis on transparency and collegial governance, and an examination of exactly what has transpired at Laurentian, so as to avoid similar mismanagement and crisis at other public institutions. The solution to crises of this sort is not more government oversight behind closed doors; it is more public and collegial oversight.

More information

4 thoughts on “FAUW stands in solidarity with colleagues at Laurentian, opposes creditor protection for the public university

  1. I’m a little confused about what is being proposed here. In bullet 1 we say Laurentian should be backstopped by the Ontario government, and in bullet 2 we say the problems are in the hands of the Ford government, but in bullet 3 we say the solution is not more government oversight. These seem in contradiction — that is unless we are proposing the Ontario government provide arbitrary amounts of money with zero oversight attached.

    Like

  2. Hi Peter, thanks for weighing in. Proper governance wasn’t being followed at Laurentian for years. What we’re calling for is a return to proper transparency and proper oversight; it doesn’t require closer scrutiny than what was already in Laurentian’s foundational documents and collective agreements. They just need to be followed.

    Like

    1. Hi! Thanks for the clarification. Certainly, bankruptcy is indicative of a governance failure. I wonder how many of the Board members have resigned. In any case, it will be interesting to see if proper governance can be restored. I’m not seeing how that is possible without outside forces being applied, given that the internal mechanisms have proven ineffective. With the reports of failing US colleges and now Laurentian, it makes one look carefully at our own financials!!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.