As the Laurentian University administration continues its attempts to drastically restructure the university through the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, OCUFA has increased our efforts to pressure Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano and the Ford government to step in and provide Laurentian with the funding it needs to secure its future.
Since Laurentian is a public university, OCUFA believes that the provincial government has a responsibility to continue to support Laurentian financially in this difficult time to ensure that there are no cuts to programs, research, or jobs. That is why we are opposed to the CCAA process and have been actively pushing back on both the legal and advocacy fronts since Laurentian announced its insolvency.
Appeal to unseal communications between Laurentian and provincial government
Similarly, we believe that, as a public institution, any communication between the university administration and the Ford government about Laurentian’s financial challenges should be made public. There are currently two pieces of correspondence that have been sealed by the judge overseeing the CCAA proceedings that we believe should be made public.
On March 5, OCUFA filed a motion to appeal the judge’s decision. This action was coordinated with the Laurentian University Faculty Association and Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The Canadian Association of University Teachers submitted a letter in support of the motion. At this time, we are awaiting a response from the court. You can read coverage here: Profs appeal order sealing correspondence between Laurentian, province
Rally in front of Minister Romano’s office
On March 11th, OCUFA and our allies rallied outside of Minister Romano’s constituency office in Sault Ste. Marie. The Algoma University Faculty Association (OPSEU Algoma University Local 685), along with the Sault Ste. Marie Labour Council and its affiliates showed up to demand funding to address the crisis at Laurentian and to secure the futures of all northern universities. Tony Fabiano, Vice President of AUFA, was quoted in a number of articles about the rally.
The has been extensive media coverage of Laurentian in recent weeks. The Toronto Star ran both an editorial, and a column by Martin Regg Cohn calling out the government for failing to adequately fund Laurentian:
OCUFA sets Laurentian president straight
Following a statement by Laurentian President Robert Haché, which sought to re-frame the damaging CCAA process as being constructive, OCUFA put out a press release to set the record straight about the faculty, course and program cuts the administration was planning: Laurentian University President is wrong: There’s no respect for stakeholders in CCAA process.
Broader coalition work
OCUFA has been working to build a broad coalition to push back against the threats to Laurentian and advocate for funding from the Ford government. This has included working with the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canadian Labour Congress, Ontario Federation of Labour, and other unions such as CUPE, the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union, and the United Steelworkers.
On March 10th, OCUFA joined union leaders at a special meeting of the Ontario Federation of Labour to plan steps to build an even stronger campaign to pressure the Ford government to fund Laurentian. Many unions have pledged to support faculty, staff and students at Laurentian, and to ensure that the CCAA does not get used against any other public sector institutions in the future.
OCUFA has also launched a new campaign website, northernsolidarity.ca, to amplify our efforts to advocate for more funding for Laurentian and to recognize the important role played by universities in Northern Ontario. The website currently includes recent news about developments at Laurentian, a summary of the issues, helpful resources, and suggested actions for supporters.