On Feb 1, Laurentian U took the “unprecedented” and “drastic” step of launching a formal debt restructuring under the CCAA, filing for creditor protection and court monitoring (via Ernst & Young). After a decade of “recurring deficits, declining demographics in Northern Ontario, the closure of our Barrie campus in 2019 and the domestic tuition reduction and freeze that was implemented in 2019,” the “various costs and revenue impacts due to the global pandemic” were the last straw. “Despite our best efforts over the last year, Laurentian is insolvent.”
The FAQs emphasize that this is not a bankruptcy, and the word “exigency” does not appear, but Laurentian’s microsite explains that the primary purpose of a CCAA filing is “consensual restructuring” with key stakeholders including “employee unions or federated universities.” The FAQs further explain that issues to be addressed include academic program offerings, the federated universities model, unsustainable salary expenses, new opportunities for revenue, and “all options to address current and long-term indebtedness.” (Those debts, it continues, include employee benefit and pension liabilities.) Laurentian’s prior collective agreement with its faculty association expired, and a new one “has not been negotiated to date.” The union will have until Apr 30 to reach a “compromise” so that Laurentian can emerge as “a fully restructured and financially viable institution.”
The province has appointed Alan Harrison (former provost at Carleton, uCalgary and Queen’s U) as a special advisor to the Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, “on options to support Laurentian’s path to return to financial sustainability.” Romano emphasized that students “continue their studies without interruption” and warned ominously that the government might legislate “greater oversight of university finances” since other institutions might be facing financial challenges in future.
Laurentian | Ontario | CBC
Reference site: Groundhogs, Penguins, and Laurentian in Limbo (mailchi.mp)