Sudbury News: Differing views on Laurentian’s debt reduction plan

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Laurentian University’s creditors have an important decision to make as the school seeks to emerge from insolvency and repay some of its debt, and now more affected groups are making recommendations.

While a group representing terminated faculty is calling for a vote against the proposed plan of arrangement, two major groups representing current faculty and staff are recommending that creditors vote in favor of it.

The Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA), staff union (LUSU) and school board of directors made the recommendations to their members in a press release on August 16.

“The parties have been negotiating the plan of arrangement for several months. Following new negotiations on issues important to its members, including a commitment to consult with unions on governance reform and a commitment to expedite the evaluation process in relation to three new faculty positions with a view to adding up to ‘With three appointments leading to tenure in 2023, LUFA has joined LUSU in confirming that it supports the (Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act) plan,’ the school said in a press release.

“Implementation of the plan will ensure the future of the university, the maintenance of employment for approximately 600 full-time employees and several hundred part-time employees, the continuation of the pension plan and no disruption for the students.”

The fired teachers’ committee said in a letter provided to CTV News that fears that voting against the proposal would lead to the school closing is false.

“In past CCAA cases, a vote against the plan simply sends all parties back to the negotiating table to come up with a better plan. In some cases, CCAA insolvency plans have suffered up to four revisions,” the committee said.

Louis Durand, vice-president of APPUL, reportedly said the plan represents the best way forward for members of his group.
“It provides additional faculty input to governance, protects our members’ hard-earned pensions, and secures the future of Laurentian University in Sudbury,” said Durand.

The committee of dismissed professors does not agree.

“The plan would fundamentally change what it means to be a faculty member, it would remove what little remains of collegiate governance and reduce working conditions from generation to generation. The faculty will (no longer) direct academic matters through the bias of the Senate, and the professional expertise will no longer be respected,” he said.

“The plan proposed by Laurentian allows the Board of Governors to implement the Report US as they see fit, which will result in a “top-down”, non-transparent governance model dictated by the Board of Governors. It will not lead to a university in which decisions are made “through democratically elected, transparent, accountable and representative governing bodies”.

Creditors will vote on the proposed plan of arrangement on September 14.

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