United Steelworkers Urges Province, Feds to Intervene at Laurentian University

SUDBURY – The United Steelworkers union (USW) is supporting calls for the Canadian and Ontario governments to stop the insolvency proceedings at Laurentian University and to provide the long-term, stable funding needed to ensure the university’s sustainability.

“Laurentian University’s students, employees and their families should not have to pay for a scandal caused by years of administrative problems and a deliberate erosion of public funding,” said Marty Warren, Ontario Director of the USW, which represents thousands of employees at other universities in the province.

Given that Laurentian has a tri-cultural mandate to support French, English and Indigenous communities – part of its unique role in the economic, social and cultural fabric of northeastern Ontario for over 60 years – both the federal and provincial governments share responsibility in securing the university’s future, Warren noted.

“We agree with Laurentian’s students and employees that the federal and provincial governments have a responsibility to intervene to stop the insolvency proceedings, to provide an infusion of short-term financing and to commit to sustainable, long-term funding,” he said.

In addition to an erosion of public funding, the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) attributes the financial crisis to years of arbitrary, unilateral and secretive decision-making by the university’s administration and governance, combined with a longstanding lack of transparency, accountability and consultation, he noted.

The Ontario government, which has four representatives on Laurentian’s Board of Governors who are supposed to ensure good governance and oversight, has had a direct role in the scandal, Warren added.

“It is shocking that the Ontario government pretends to have been caught by surprise at the scope of the financial crisis at Laurentian, when their representatives have been serving on the board all along,” he said.

“Why was this situation allowed to get to this point?”

The USW is supporting a campaign by Laurentian’s students, professors and other staff, demanding the immediate intervention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, federal Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Mélanie Joly, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and provincial Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano.

“Our universities are not profit-driven, private corporations. They are public institutions operating under the oversight and mandates of our governments,” Warren said. “Our governments have the responsibility to defend the education of students and the jobs of employees.”

Click here to view a letter from USW local unions, representing 12,000 university employees in Ontario, in support of the campaign by Laurentian University students, faculty and staff.


For further information:

Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, 416-243-8792
Shannon Devine, USW Communications, 416-894-7118 (cell), sdevine@usw.ca

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