FNUC lays off workers

Layoffs have begun at financially-troubled First Nations University of Canada.

Layoffs have begun at the financially troubled First Nations University of Canada.

University officials have not confirmed the number, but one person who was laid off and who did not want to be identified told CBC News a total of 25 casual and temporary workers were given pink slips.

Staff at the university learned through an email that Wednesday would be the last day for all non-essential and non-student casual employees. 

More layoffs are expected soon as the Regina-based facility grapples with an estimated $300,000-a-month deficit.

"We were informed we're running a significant monthly deficit and that steps would need to be taken to address that, beginning immediately," said Randy Lundy, a professor and chair of the university's academic council.

Lundy said he expects the next cuts will be to non-union staff, followed by lecturers and then full-time staff and faculty.

"Potentially, up to one-third of our academic faculty," Lundy said. "I think people are stunned."

The university has been dealing with deficits for several years, but its financial situation took a turn for the worse in February when the provincial government said it would cut $5 million in annual funding and the federal government said it planned to halt the $7 million a year it gave to the university.

After FNUC agreed to a new management arrangement, which included allowing the University of Regina to handle its finances, the province agreed to restore full funding, but Ottawa didn't.

Instead, Federal Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said he would give FNUC up to $3 million, indirectly, through the Indian Studies Support Program.

Lundy said FNUC's prospects look grim.

"This is only the beginning of the layoffs," he said.

FNUC has about 800 students at its main campus in Regina and satellite campuses in Saskatoon and Prince Albert.