Updates on campaign to save Laurentian University

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OCUFA continues to provide LUFA with direct support on the fallout of the CCAA process. Below is a digest of key events, media coverage, and political action from the past week regarding the Laurentian CCAA Proceeding.

Please note that going forward, OCUFA will be providing updates as new actions and significant information or updates transpire, rather than on a weekly basis. Please regularly check our website and www.northernsolidarity.ca as we are adding new resources to our toolkit on a regular basis.

OCUFA continues to put pressure on Romano and the Ford government

OCUFA has issued a joint statement in consultation with Indigenous faculty members from the Indigenous Studies Department at Laurentian University, whose programs have been terminated through the CCAA process. The statement recognizes the detrimental loss of Indigenous-centred, Indigenous-developed and Indigenous-run degree programs, which are vital to Ontario’s North. OCUFA again demands that Ontario’s provincial government steps in to provide long-term, stable funding for Laurentian University. This funding is needed to ensure the continuation of Laurentian University’s Indigenous studies program and demonstrate the government’s responsibility under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.

OCUFA faculty association political action summary

In response to LUFA’s call for the Laurentian Board of Governors to terminate senior members of the administration team as well as the Board Chair, many faculty associations sent their own letters to the Laurentian Board of Governors demanding the same. OCUFA received letters from faculty associations at Brescia, Brock, Carleton, Nipissing, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Western, and York addressed to the Laurentian Board.

This past Friday many faculty members, community, and labour allies came out to the Rally on Wheels online and in-car protest to push back against the decimation of Laurentian University and the chronic underfunding of postsecondary education. Car rallies were held across the province, including in Toronto, Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Sudbury. Here is a video of the livestreamed event, which includes pre-rally commentary, including moving testimonies and calls to action by (now former) Laurentian University faculty members, followed by speeches and footage from the rallies themselves— all hosted by Beverly Bain and Min Sook Lee of Scholar Strike Canada. The Rally on Wheels protest also gained coverage on CTV News and Sudbury.com. It is a formidable show of solidarity and an important step toward building the kind of escalating campaign of faculty, students, university workers, and university communities that Alan Sears spoke of in the Laurentian: What Can We Do? panel on April 16th—a campaign uniting us within and across campuses against ongoing attacks on public universities and on the communities in which they are embedded.

More statements of solidarity

On April 13th, OCUFA and LUFA called on the resignation of Minister Romano, and the five senior administrators at Laurentian. Last week, the Canadian Association of University Teachers also called for these resignations. CAUT is also calling for an independent investigation into the circumstances that pushed the university into insolvency.

OCUFA’s President, Rahul Sapra, has sent a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister Francois-Philipe Champagne urging the federal government to amend the language of the CCAA and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to ensure that public institutions are excluded.

The Canadian Federation of Students, the Laurentian Graduate Students’ Association, and the L’Association des étudiantes et étudiants francophones of Laurention University released a statement of solidarity and list of demands:

  1. Put a stop to the CCAA processes immediately and fully fund Laurentian University until it is financially stable;
  2. Stop the proposed program cuts and guarantee that students will be able to complete their programs as planned at Laurentian University and the previously federated universities (Thorneloe University, Huntington University, and the University of Sudbury);
  3. Ensure that research funding for graduate programs and their faculty members are restored;
  4. Immediately stop the layoffs to faculty and staff and secure their employment through the proper bargaining processes.

The Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculty Association (ACIFA) released a statement expressing its concern about the impact of the Laurentian CCAA process on LUFA members, as well as the ripple effect it will have on other publicly funded postsecondary institutions across Canada. ACIFA points to the underlying failure of provincial and federal funding models in properly supporting post-secondary education in the country.

The School of Nursing Sciences at the Université du Québec en Outaouais passed a solidarity motion in support of the faculty, staff and students in the Department of Nursing at Laurentian University. The School of Nursing is calling for support of the steps taken by LUFA and other groups representing faculty, students, and the community in order to recover the cut programs and reinstate laid off staff as soon as possible.

The Syndicat des professeurs et des professeures at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières also passed a solidarity motion, which denounces the layoffs of faculty, closure of programs for purely economic reasons, the use of the CCAA process and the chronic underfunding of the sector.

The Canadian Industrial Relations Association (CIRA) has released a statement on the program closures and job cuts at Laurentian. CIRA calls the unprecedented decision to force the university into creditor protection under the CCAA deplorable and a means of avoiding customary labour protections and obligations to bargain in good faith. It also points to the underlying issue of chronic underfunding of Canada’s postsecondary education system.

More city council motions are coming forward. On Tuesday April 27th, the Sudbury City Council passed a motion calling on the province to step in and fund Laurentian University. The councillors asked that details of the motion and its signatories be sent to Premier Doug Ford, Minister Romano, Sudbury MPP Jamie West, Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas, as well as Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre and Nickel Belt MP Marc Serre.

In addition, the Municipality of East Ferris near North Bay, has passed a solidarity motion urging the Provincial and Federal governments to ensure the continuation of Laurentian University as a strong and healthy provider of higher education for the communities of East Ferris and Northern Ontario. It also called for the governments to ensure the protection of the affiliated Universities and programs, as well as all other Laurentian programs aimed at meeting the needs of Northern Ontario’s Francophone and Indigenous populations, and needs specific to the north such as that provided by the School of Midwifery/École de profession des sages-femmes.

The Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTO), which includes over 80,000 members across Canada, sent a letter to Minister Romano last week, calling for: the appointment of a supervisor to oversee the financial management and administration of Laurentian University, and conduct a forensic audit; as well as the suspension of the cancellation of programs. RTO is also asking that the process of assessing Laurentian’s situation be transparent.

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