·  by Marty Warren   ·  The Sudbury Star

Complicit in Laurentian Crisis, Province Must Step Up

The following letter from USW District 6 Director Marty Warren was published by the Sudbury Star:

For years, Laurentian University employee and student groups sounded the alarm. They warned of dire consequences of a steady erosion of public funding coupled with reckless administrative decisions.

The powers that be, including the Ontario government, dismissed and scoffed at such concerns, even as Laurentian headed towards a full-blown financial crisis. A few days ago, however, those warnings were borne out, with Laurentian’s bombshell announcement that it was applying to the courts for protection from creditors to restructure its financial affairs – in other words: bankruptcy protection.

There is no consolation for the university’s students, faculty and staff who could justifiably say, “We told you so.”

Instead, students must now worry about their future educational prospects. Faculty and staff are left to contemplate potential job losses and whether their benefits and retirement security will be compromised.

Contrary to its attempts to suggest otherwise, the Ontario government is complicit in this unprecedented fiasco. Not only has it presided over the erosion of university funding, the government has four representatives on the Laurentian University Board of Governors. Every step of the way, government representatives have been part of the disastrous, secretive and arbitrary decision-making at Laurentian that led to this crisis.

The Ontario government’s shameful failure of oversight at Laurentian is a scandal in itself. Its deliberate policy of maintaining the lowest per-student funding levels in Canada, as well as the highest tuition rates in the country, lays bare its complicity not only in the Laurentian crisis but in the financial crunch facing the province’s other universities.

For more than 60 years, Laurentian University has served a distinct role in the economic, social and cultural fabric of northeastern Ontario. That role must be defended and strengthened.

The Ontario government has a clear responsibility to intervene and immediately put a stop to the insolvency proceedings at Laurentian. The government must resolve the chronic underfunding at the university and eliminate the threats facing students, faculty, staff and the communities it serves.

Marty Warren
District 6 Director
United Steelworkers

View the letter to the editor as published by the Sudbury Star

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