The recent Auditor General’s preliminary report into the financial insolvency of Laurentian University confirms CUPE Ontario’s claim that the university administration’s non-transparent and non-accountable budgeting processes combined with the Ford conservatives’ decision not to step in and support the university is ultimately what led to insolvency.
“The report confirms what we were saying months ago along with students and the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA), that the university administration was running Laurentian into the ground, and Ford was fully aware and letting it happen,” said David Simao, Chair of CUPE’s Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee. “The people who will ultimately pay the price are students, campus workers, faculty members and the people of Sudbury and Northern Ontario, for which Laurentian is an important economic, educational and cultural institution.”
When the university administration could no longer hide the fact that their mismanagement and secretive processes had resulted in a financial crisis, they initiated the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) which allows corporations owing creditors in excess of $5 million to restructure their business.
“Instead of working with faculty and staff to find a solution, the administration initiated a process that is not appropriate for a public institution to deal with financial issues,” Simao continued. “The actions of the administration, and the Ford government who allowed them to begin dismantling Laurentian University, have caused irreparable harm to Laurentian University and its community.”
The Auditor General’s report was clear that the Ford Conservatives had other options for responding to the crisis that would have been much more suitable for a public university. The report confirms what CUPE, LUFA and other campus groups had been calling for when news of the financial crisis was first made known that it was imperative that the Ford government intervene and that the CCAA is designed for private companies and would lead to the insolvency of a public institution.
“This report on the situation at Laurentian proves the Ford Conservatives cannot be trusted with our public institutions. Their commitment is to big business, and when it came to this important, public service, they were fine with letting students, workers and Northern communities pay the price for this failed, business-first approach,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “CUPE members, along with many students and faculty groups, take no satisfaction in saying, ‘I told you so” after the Ford Conservatives failed to listen to our calls to halt Laurentian’s disastrous decision to use the CCAA. We want this situation fixed and we know the best way to do that is by using our power at the ballot box on June 2nd and voting for a new government that believes in protecting and investing in public education.”