The APUO is outraged by the announced cutting of 28 French and 41 English undergraduate and graduate programs spanning the arts, business, education, healthcare, sciences, and social sciences at Laurentian University, the loss of more than a hundred contract, tenure-track, tenured faculty, and support staff positions, and the inability of some 10% of its undergraduate students to now complete their degrees. This situation is the product of a restructuring process that has largely taken place in secret because of the Laurentian University senior leadership having chosen to seek creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), a long-standing province-wide financial and governance crisis in the post-secondary education sector, and institutional mismanagement. We are aghast with the actions of Laurentian’s senior leadership and the failure of the Ford government to intervene in this process despite it having been aware for several months of the financial challenges facing the university.
With its tri-cultural mandate to support French, English, and Indigenous communities in northern Ontario, Laurentian University has long been a unique institution. A small sampling of important programs directly impacted by the cuts includes:
- The midwifery program, which is one of six in North America, and the only such program in northern Ontario;
- The Indigenous Studies department, a founding department in this domain;
- The School of the Environment, which was a recognized global leader in environmental remediation;
- The French language intermediate and senior education programs, which were at the forefront of training Francophone school teachers; and
- The French language nursing program, which played a key role in training Francophone healthcare professionals
The cutting of these and the many other programs will limit educational and professional opportunities available to Ontario’s francophone, Indigenous, and northern communities and will, in turn, bear negative consequences for both essential and public services available in the region and across our province. The current situation highlights the need for a well-funded public post-secondary education system, governed through democratic, transparent, and accountable structures that protect academic integrity.
The APUO stands in solidarity with the hundreds of professors and staff whose livelihoods are on the line and with the Francophone, Indigenous, and northern communities who will suffer the consequences of this decision for years to come.
Given the roles they have played in creating this crisis and in decimating a public university, we join the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations’ (OCUFA), the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA), and several individual Faculty Associations in calling 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
You can consult OCUFA’s statement here.