OCUFA supports Laurentian faculty decision to move forward with repayment plan

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SUDBURY/TORONTO, September 14, 2022 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) supports the decision by creditors, including the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) and the Laurentian University Staff Union (LUSU), to move forward with the negotiated Plan of Arrangement under the Companies Creditor Arrangement Act (CCAA). The implementation of the plan will be essential to secure a future for Laurentian University in Sudbury.

“While this does not dampen the hurt and suffering at Laurentian, approving the Plan of Arrangement is a necessary step for Laurentian to continue serving the campus and Sudbury communities after 20 months of unnecessary challenges and immense loss,” said Sue Wurtele, OCUFA President. “Ontario’s academic community supports Laurentian’s faculty, staff, and students as they enter this phase of the rebuilding process and continue to call for accountability, transparency, and collegial governance from the university administration and the Ford government.”

In addition to debt repayment conditions, the plan includes a commitment to LUFA and their faculty  members’ input on the future of university governance and priority payment for vacation pay claims over and above what is required by the CCAA, as well as ensures the continuation of the pension plan and security for about 600 full-time jobs. Outside of the plan, LUFA was also able to negotiate provisions for three new faculty appointments, and will continue to advocate for increased faculty complement.

OCUFA was part of a coalition that called for accountability from the government and university administrators after Laurentian declared insolvency in February 2021. A preliminary report from the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario found that Laurentian’s CCAA filing was inappropriate and could have been avoided. The report also detailed poor management decisions and financial choices by administration officials, limited transparency, and a lack of action from the provincial government, resulting in the loss of almost 200 faculty and staff positions and the elimination of 69 academic programs. Following campaigns by LUFA, LUSU, OCUFA, and their allies, university President Robert Haché and Vice-President Academic and Provost Marie-Josée Berger—who had led the CCAA process—announced their retirements in July.

“The leadership change at Laurentian is a positive development, but the new leaders must work with university faculty to ensure a robust future for the institution,” said Wurtele. “Questions remain about why the Ford government didn’t step in earlier to prevent this catastrophe, and the Laurentian community—and all Ontarians—deserve answers and assurance that this will never happen again in Ontario.”

Laurentian will seek final approval from the Superior Court of Justice on October 5 and can start implementing the plan.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.


For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or manishaas@ocufa.on.ca