(Ottawa – February 1, 2023) Laurentian University filed for insolvency protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) on February 1, 2021. Two years later – after job losses, program cuts, and plummeting enrollment – the people most affected are speaking out about the personal costs of a corporate bankruptcy process.
Dr. Valérie Raymond, a former professor in the French studies department, was informed she would lose her full-time, permanent position days before giving birth to her first child.
“The stress, anxiety and fear that this loss brought on at that point in my pregnancy are indescribable,” she said. “The CCAA process the university used robbed my family of our financial security when I not only I lost my maternity leave, but also was denied the appropriate severance pay that was owed to me.”
Born and raised in Sudbury, Dr. Raymond is now back at Laurentian, working as a contract employee. “I found it very difficult to go back to this same institution that destroyed my career and denied me my approved, paid maternity leave,” she said. “I returned because I’m still passionate about teaching and this French-language program is so important to our community. I’m teaching the same courses as before, only at a much lower pay grade, without any health benefits for me or my family and, of course, without any job security.”
“Faculty at all stages of their careers have paid dearly for the callous choices made by Laurentian’s former leadership,” said Fabrice Colin, President of the Laurentian University Faculty Association. “The effects continue to reverberate through the community and economy in Sudbury and across Northern Ontario. And, even though we were promised change by the federal government, we have yet to see action. The CCAA must be fixed before this happens to another community.”
Rather than lose his job outright, Dr. Frank Mallory, a former chair of the biology department, was pressured to retire.
For the sake of his students and his children, he accepted. “At the time I was supervising seven graduate students. I’m still working for free so that my remaining two students can complete their studies,” he said. “I had four young children, so I needed the benefits promised if I retired, even though it meant giving up my salary, my life insurance, my sabbatical, and free tuition for my kids.”
In response to the situation at Laurentian, the Liberal government promised to exclude public post-secondary institutions from the CCAA. Two years later, that change has yet to materialize.
In early December, NDP MP Charlie Angus introduced a private member’s bill (C-309) in the House of Commons to remove all public institutions from the CCAA. Earlier, Senator Lucie Moncion proposed a bill in the Senate (S-215) that would exclude public post-secondary institutions from the CCAA. CAUT has urged the government to make a similar commitment in Budget 2023.
“The CCAA is a corporate tool that was never intended to be used by public institutions like Laurentian,” said David Robinson, executive director of CAUT. “We now know that the university administration had other options, including provincial assistance, but chose instead to let their staff and students pay for the cost of gross financial mismanagement.”