OCUFA disappointed Laurentian still resisting accountability for CCAA devastation

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Laurentian University

TORONTO, January, 13, 2022 – OCUFA is disappointed that the Superior Court of Justice has denied the Ontario Auditor General’s request for documents that Laurentian University claims are privileged. Laurentian’s sudden insolvency and unprecedented implosion as a result of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) process has devastated the Greater Sudbury community, raised concerns at other universities, and alarmed the people of Ontario. It is vital that Laurentian University show some accountability and release these documents to the Auditor General.

“We need to understand what happened at Laurentian to make sure it doesn’t happen at any other university,” said Sue Wurtele, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “These documents are important records that will shine a light on how things got so bad.”

Laurentian filed for CCAA protection on February 1, 2021. That unprecedented decision resulted in 69 university programs being eliminated, more than 100 faculty and staff losing their jobs, and student enrolment collapsing. Although the Ford government had advanced warning of Laurentian’s financial situation, they chose to sit on their hands and do nothing to help. The province’s December announcement of additional funding came as too little too late and is little consolation to the hundreds of families devastated by job losses or a community that has lived in a state of anxiety, fear, and frustration for almost a year.

Following the Superior Court of Justice’s ruling, the Auditor General announced she would appeal the decision. The Ontario Legislature has also issued a rare Speaker’s warrant demanding the release of similar documents by February 1. OCUFA is pleased that the Auditor General is seeking an appeal and calls on the university to come clean and comply with the Speaker’s warrant.

“Laurentian University has an obligation to the Greater Sudbury community and the people of Ontario to do the right thing and make these documents available to the Auditor General and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario,” said Wurtele. “Universities should be transparent, accountable, and democratic institutions. Laurentian’s behaviour on this front continues to be unacceptable.”

Almost a year after Laurentian declared insolvency, the people of Ontario still don’t have a good understanding of how the university’s finances were allowed to reach such an acute state of decay nor why Premier Doug Ford refused to step in to provide funding for the university when faculty, staff, and students most needed the government’s support. Full transparency is needed to discover what went so wrong and that is why it is so crucial that these documents are released.

 

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