To: OCUFA Executive, Board Directors, Faculty Association Presidents and Staff;
It’s been an incredibly difficult week as LUFA members have been dealing with the chilling effect of the CCAA process. In addition, last week, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine Faculty Association learned that the government had made a unilateral decision to sever NOSM’s relationship with Laurentian and Lakehead, and enact legislation to make it an independent degree-granting institution. Yet another unacceptable violation of academic governance. OCUFA has put out a press release and continues to find out as much as possible on this recent news. The NOSM administration is saying that this has occurred in light of the CCAA process and are therefore not able to provide much detail due to the confidentiality provisions. OCUFA has also learned that the Lakehead University administration is against this move and has written a letter to Minister Romano stating this.
At the same time, there has been a lot of mobilizing to push back on what has happened at Laurentian, for the members and their families, and the Sudbury community. On the weekend, the situation gained front page traction in The Toronto Star. The article featured perspectives from students and faculty, including LUFA President Fabrice Colin, who clearly laid out that the situation is a disaster, with core programs having been cut.
Over 650 letters in support of LUFA were signed this weekend alone! Clearly people are getting more engaged and interested and want to call on the government to take action. This raises the number of letters signed to over 10,000! Please continue to circulate the letter for more people to sign. It is one way of getting people informed and involved.
Below is a digest of key events, media coverage, and political action from the past week regarding the Laurentian CCAA Proceeding.
Please forward some or all of these items to your members, campus coalitions and networks. For an abridged version of events, please see the OCUFA Report later in the week.
OCUFA Continues to Put Pressure on Romano and the Ford Government
On April 14th, OCUFA held a press conference with LUFA. OCUFA President Rahul Sapra and LUFA President Fabrice Colin called for the resignations of Laurentian University President Robert Haché, Vice-President Academic and Provost Marie-Josée Berger, Vice-President Administration Lorella Hayes, Board Chair Claude Lacroix, Registrar Serge Demers, and Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano for their roles in creating the financial crisis that has devastated the public university. Please visit the OUCFA website for the media release.
OCUFA Faculty Association Political Action Summary of the Last Week
Each week since the CCAA proceeding at LU began, different OCUFA member associations have stepped up to pressure the Ford government to invest immediately in the university to end the insolvency process.
On April 13th, the Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) sent a letter to Minister Ross Romano reaffirming that Laurentian University is a crucial public institution in Northern Ontario. CUASA again is calling on the provincial government to increase funding and restore Laurentian to good financial health.
On April 14th, the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) released a statement in solidarity with the faculty, support staff and students at Laurentian University. The statement called 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.
Also on that day, the Saint Paul University’s Faculty Association (PASPU) sent a letter to Romano calling for him to fulfil his responsibilities as the Minister of Colleges and Universities and to specifically: establish a transparent, collaborative process including sharing key documents with parties; recognize the need for greater financial support from the province to support Laurentian University; allow Laurentian University’s federated colleges to finish the spring term, at minimum; and, make a clear, legal commitment to recognize and maintain Laurentian University’s tri-mandate.
The York University Faculty Association (YUFA) passed a motion on April 15th calling for the resignation of Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano, as well as Laurentian University President Robert Haché and his senior leadership team. YUFA is encouraging other faculty associations across the province to do that same.
On April 16th, the Faculty and Staff Team of the Midwifery Education Program at Ryerson University wrote a letter of solidarity in support of the school of Midwifery at Laurentian University, calling for its reinstatement. You can also send a letter in support of the Midwifery program at Laurentian University here.
There are a number of events from today:
leDroit published an opinion piece from APUO and PASPU that calls on Francophones in Ontario to mobilize in order to protect Laurentian University. APUO and PASPU also clearly point to the Ford government’s responsibility, on top of the mismanagement by the Laurentian University administration.
Today, the North Bay Labour Council and the Nipissing University Faculty Association (NUFA) held a press conference via Facebook live – recorded and available here. Also, the North Bay Labour Council has an open letter to Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Victor Fedeli (who is also the Progressive Conservative MPP for the Nipissing riding) for people to sign. The letter calls on Fedeli to support local universities and to provide the funding needed to support all public post-secondary education in northern Ontario, reverse the cuts to Laurentian, and ensure that this never happens to another Ontario university. The letter is available in both English and French.
Also, today at 7 pm EST the Indigenous Grassroots Activators and Academics group is hosting a Facebook live event to spark conversation about a number of issues including:
1) the implications of non-Indigenous co-option of Indigenous education for monetary gain;
2) strategies for more protection of Indigenous knowledge bundles, intellectual legacies, and cultural and spiritual inheritances;
3) alternatives to the current educational realities; possibilities, investments, and partnerships; and
4) actionable steps we as community members of Indigenous Nations and allies can take.
Federal Political Action
On April 13th, the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) released a statement of solidarity with all faculty, students, and staff at Laurentian. It strongly objects to the closures of academic programs at Laurentian University, particularly the physics programs and is calling for the CCAA closure decisions to be overturned.
Sudbury Liberal MP Paul Lefebvre announced at an emergency House of Commons debate on the Laurentian University financial crisis on April 14th that he will table a private member’s bill this week. The bill would seek to amend the CCAA to prevent it from being used by an educational institution. He also expressed concern that it could be used as a tool to dismantle or privatize other public institutions. A link to a CBC article can be found here. Timmins-North Bay NDP MP Charlie Angus also spoke to the issue, emphasizing that Laurentian also needs immediate support. “What is happening at Laurentian is an act of national vandalism under the guise of the CCAA ‘protection’ act”, Angus said. His opening speech is available here and his follow-up here. Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich-Guld Islands Elizabeth May, also quoted OCUFA’s call for Romano’s resignation during the debate.
On April 16th, the Canadian Labour Congress sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recommending that the federal government work with the Province of Ontario to: provide immediate emergency stabilization funding for Canadian post-secondary institutions, including dedicated public investments to stabilize programming and retain staff at Laurentian University; amend the CCAA to exclude government and public-sector entities, including post-secondary institutions, from access to restructuring; and expand eligibility to the CEWS to include public sector employers.
A reminder to continue to circulate these videos by the OFL widely on social media via Facebook and Twitter:
We need to continue to hold Doug Fold and Ross Romano accountable for the impact their decisions are having on Northern, Indigenous, and Francophone communities.
LUFA Ratifies Collective Agreement & Restructuring Package Passed at LU Senate
OCUFA will be reviewing the details of the LUFA collective agreement and restructuring packages as soon as possible. LUFA ratified the CA under duress. OCUFA continues to be in communication with LUFA on supporting them as further information is provided.
Federated Colleges Agreement Cancellation
The University of Sudbury and Thorneloe University have both filed motions challenging Laurentian University’s repudiation of the federated universities’ agreements.
Watch for updates and sign up for the weekly OCUFA newsletter (OCUFA Report) at www.ocufa.on.ca
Please regularly check our website and www.northernsolidarity.ca as we are adding new resources to our toolkit on a regular basis.
Thank you for your continued support to LUFA and OCUFA.
Jenny J. H. Ahn
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA)
Office: 416-979-2117 ext. 229
17 Isabella Street
Toronto, ON Canada M4Y 1M7