Photo: Vanderbilt8

As Laurentian University announced a first wave of massive terminations and program cuts today, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn and leaders representing University workers today warned it will take years to repair the damage that will be inflicted across Northern Ontario.

“Today’s announcement represents a bleak day for Northern Ontario,” said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn after Laurentian announced earlier today it would terminate more than 80 faculty members and eliminate or cut more than 60 programs at the Sudbury post-secondary institution.

“It’s important to note that today’s announcement isn’t the final word. It’s just the first, and more completely avoidable layoffs and program cuts, could very well follow it,” he added.

In February, Laurentian announced it was seeking insolvency protection under the Company Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) the first time public institution had ever sought protection under the act, which was created for private, for-profit corporations.

David Simao, Chair of the Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee, which represents CUPE University workers in Ontario, said today that, “the announcement we all heard today will reverberate across the North for more than a generation. The tremendous loss of knowledge and talent at Laurentian can never be replaced, and it will take years, if not decades, to repair the damage that the Ford Conservatives have inflicted on Northern Ontario,”

Earlier this year, as Laurentian announced it was struggling financially, Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano and the rest of the Ford Government’s caucus made a choice to not intervene to provide the necessary financial assistance to help the University.  This seemingly left this public institution with no other recourse but to resort to a legal process designed to deal with corporate bankruptcy; a process that looks only at the raw numbers and not questions of what’s necessary for the good of the public.

Hahn called the Ford Conservatives failure to act to save Laurentian, “one of its most profound, and potentially far reaching failures, to assist communities like Sudbury thorough these difficult days We echo the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) leadership, which today called for the Minister to do the honourable thing and submit his resignation, immediately.”

Simao also called on the Federal government to “take immediate action to amend their federal legislation, the CCAA, so that it is never misused in this fashion again.”