Update on campaign to save Laurentian University

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The mediation phase of the proceeding with the Laurentian University Faculty Association and Senate has ended. As a result, 110 Laurentian faculty members lost their jobs and 69 programs were cut at the institution (please refer to the end of the email for the list of programs). The next few weeks will determine whether the new “business plan” is acceptable to the lenders. This phase of the restructuring will end on May 1.

On the weekend, the situation gained front-page traction in The Toronto Star. The article featured perspectives from students and faculty, including LUFA President Fabrice Colin, who clearly laid out that the situation is a disaster, with core programs having been cut.

Over 650 letters in support of LUFA were signed this weekend alone! Clearly people are getting more engaged and interested and want to call on the government to take action. This raises the number of letters signed to over 10,000! Please continue to circulate the letter for more people to sign. It is one way of getting people informed and involved.

Political action summary

Each week since the Laurentian CCAA proceedings began, different OCUFA member associations have stepped up to pressure the Ford government to invest immediately in the university to end the insolvency process. Many of the letters and motions referenced below can be found on the Northern Solidarity website.

The Trent University Faculty Association has written to Minister Romano, demanding he take immediate steps to stabilize operations and protect the investment Ontario citizens have made over many years to create a world-class university in Sudbury.

A letter to the editor published in the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal on Saturday and resolution passed by the Northern Ontario School of Medicine Faculty and Staff Association (NOSMFSA) at its General Meeting on April 7 recognize the critical role that northern universities, including Laurentian University, play in supporting the educational, cultural, social, and economic prosperity of Ontario.

The University of Western Ontario Faculty Association issued a press release on April 8 urging the federal and provincial governments to end the CCAA process. A motion calling on the provincial government and the Minister to provide immediate funding to LU passed unanimously. Read the motion and press release on UWOFA’s website.

The Nipissing University Senate unanimously passed a motion on Friday April 9, which recognized, amongst other things, that: “a first principle for university quality and integrity is expressed in the bicameral governance structure shared between the Board of Governors and the Academic Senate, a process clearly identified in the Nipissing University Act and Laurentian University Act”; and that the CCAA process at Laurentian has bypassed transparency and academic decision-making.

The Lakehead University Faculty Association and NOSMFSA co-sponsored a phone zap on April 11 to tell the provincial government to step in and immediately #FundLU. More than 60 people registered. The key targets were Greg Rickford (Kenora-Rainy River MPP and Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines) and Ross Romano, as well as federal Liberal MPs and Cabinet ministers.

On April 13, the Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) sent a letter to Minister Ross Romano reaffirming that Laurentian University is a crucial public institution in Northern Ontario. CUASA again is calling on the provincial government to increase funding and restore Laurentian to good financial health.

On April 14, the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) released a statement in solidarity with the faculty, support staff and students at Laurentian University. The statement called for: 1) the immediate resignation of Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, Laurentian University President Robert Haché, Vice-President Academic and Provost Marie-Josée Berger, Vice-President Administration Lorella Hayes, Board Chair Claude Lacroix, and Registrar Serge Demers; and 2) the Ford government to provide immediate and long-term funding for Laurentian University to end its current insolvency filing and secure its future.

Also on that day, the Saint Paul University’s Faculty Association (PASPU) sent a letter to Romano calling for him to fulfil his responsibilities as the Minister of Colleges and Universities and to specifically: establish a transparent, collaborative process including sharing key documents with parties; recognize the need for greater financial support from the province to support Laurentian University; allow Laurentian University’s federated colleges to finish the spring term, at minimum; and, make a clear, legal commitment to recognize and maintain Laurentian University’s tri-cultural mandate.

The York University Faculty Association passed a motion on April 15th calling for the resignation of Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano, as well as the resignation of Laurentian University President Robert Haché and his senior leadership team.

On April 16, the faculty and staff team of the Midwifery Education Program at Ryerson University wrote a letter of solidarity in support of the school of Midwifery at Laurentian University, calling for its reinstatement. You can also send a letter in support of the Midwifery program at Laurentian University here.

Le Droit published an opinion piece from APUO and PASPU that calls on Francophones in Ontario to mobilize in order to protect Laurentian University.

The North Bay Labour Council and the Nipissing University Faculty Association held a press conference via Facebook live—recorded and available here. Also, the North Bay Labour Council has an open letter to Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Victor Fedeli (who is also the Progressive Conservative MPP for the Nipissing riding) for people to sign. The letter calls on Fedeli to support local universities and to provide the funding needed to support all public post-secondary education in northern Ontario, reverse the cuts to Laurentian, and ensure that this never happens to another Ontario university.

Federal political action

On April 13, the Canadian Association of Physicists released a statement of solidarity with all faculty, students, and staff at Laurentian. It strongly objects to the closures of academic programs at Laurentian University, particularly the physics programs and is calling for the CCAA closure decisions to be overturned.

Sudbury Liberal MP Paul Lefebvre announced at an emergency House of Commons debate on the Laurentian University financial crisis that he will table a private member’s bill this week. The bill would seek to amend the CCAA to prevent it from being used by an educational institution. He also expressed concern that it could be used as a tool to dismantle or privatize other public institutions. A link to a CBC article can be found here. Timmins-North Bay NDP MP Charlie Angus also spoke to the issue, emphasizing that Laurentian also needs immediate support. “What is happening at Laurentian is an act of national vandalism under the guise of the CCAA ‘protection’ act,” Angus said. His opening speech is available here and his follow-up here. Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich-Guld Islands Elizabeth May also quoted OCUFA’s call for Romano’s resignation during the debate.

On April 16, the Canadian Labour Congress sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recommending that the federal government work with the Province of Ontario to: provide immediate emergency stabilization funding for Canadian postsecondary institutions, including dedicated public investments to stabilize programming and retain staff at Laurentian University; amend the CCAA to exclude government and public-sector entities, including post-secondary institutions, from access to restructuring; and expand eligibility to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to include public sector employers.

A reminder to continue to circulate these videos by the OFL widely on social media via Facebook and Twitter:

We need to continue to hold Doug Ford and Ross Romano accountable for the impact their decisions are having on Northern, Indigenous, and Francophone communities.

LUFA reaches a collective agreement

After nine weeks of mediation, LUFA has reached a renewal collective agreement, as required by the CCAA judge. A membership meeting on Tuesday, April 13 resulted in the agreement being ratified. The agreement will see a five per cent pay cut and freeze for two years, five forced furlough days each year, and increased workload for faculty at the university. The LUFA executive has expressed profound sadness at the situation and the senseless destruction this proceeding has caused to Laurentian’s standing, the lives of faculty who will be terminated, and the education of students who have been left in the dark with no institutional support.

Federated university agreement cancellations

The fallout from the unilateral cancellation by Laurentian to terminate agreements with its federated universities continues.

Laurentian has announced that affected students will have a “path forward” to complete their degrees by moving to a “similar or alternative program” at Laurentian, and all credits taken are protected. CTV News reports on the situation here.

Huntington University has announced that it will continue to operate as an independent university and own and operate its buildings on campus. Laurentian University and Huntington University have reached an agreement to transfer the Gerontology online program to Laurentian.

The University of Sudbury and Thorneloe University have both filed motions challenging Laurentian University’s repudiation of the federated universities’ agreements.

List of discontinued English language programmes

Actuarial Science
BA 4 years Concurrent education (Primary-Junior)
BSc 4 years Concurrent education (Primary-Junior)
BFA – Music
BFA – Music Performance
Biomedical Physics
Civil Engineering (first 2 years)
Concurrent Education – Pro year (Primary-Junior)
Environmental Geoscience
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
International Management
Labour Studies
Major Restoration Ecology
Modern Languages
Music Studies
Political Science
Radiation Therapy – Michener
Restoration Biology
Web Data Management
Workplace and Labour Studies

List of discontinued French language programmes

Droit et politique
Éducation – intermédiaire/supérieur
Études de l’environnement
Études françaises
Génie chimique
Génie mécanique
Génie minier
Littérature et culture francophone
Marketing (FR)
Nursing – Boreal
Outdoor Adventure Leadership (FR)
Planification financière
Promotion de la santé
Resources humaines
Sage femme
Science du language
Science économique
Science politique

List of discontinued graduate programmes

Maîtrise – Histoire – essai
Maîtrise – Histoire – thèse
Maîtrise – Sociologie – essai
Maîtrise – Sociologie – thèse
Masters – Experimental Psychology
Masters – History – essay
Masters – History – Thesis
Masters – Humanities
Masters – Physics
Masters – Sociology – essay
Masters – Sociology – thesis

Please regularly check our website and www.northernsolidarity.ca as we are adding new resources to our toolkit on a regular basis.

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