SAIT to eliminate 230 positions in wake of fresh UCP budget cuts

SAIT had already been working through the impact of the UCP's 2019 provincial budget by cutting costs 'across almost every area' before another austerity budget came down Thursday, said school president David Ross.

Layoffs also anticipated at University of Calgary 'given the magnitude of this cut'

'The decision to reduce staff was difficult and the full impact of this is not lost on me,' says Davis Ross, CEO and president of SAIT, in a letter to employees that was posted on Twitter. (Mike Symington/CBC)

SAIT is issuing layoff notices in the wake of the UCP's 2020 budget, which introduced further cuts to post-secondary education in Alberta.

SAIT CEO and president David Ross announced that 230 positions are being eliminated — 80 of those are vacancies that won't be filled — in a letter to employees that circulated on Twitter Friday morning.

Ross said the institute waited for the new budget's release Thursday before announcing the decision.

"We were waiting for all the information," Ross wrote.

"The decision to reduce staff was difficult and the full impact of this is not lost on me."

SAIT had already been working through the impact of the 2019 provincial budget by cutting costs "across almost every area," Ross said. 

Layoffs begin

The 2020 budget cuts that will impact post-secondary institutions across the province include a decline in Campus Alberta grant funding — money institutions receive to help pay for operations and salaries.

SAIT spokesperson Chris Gerritsen said in a statement to CBC News that the bulk of the layoffs would begin next week and continue until the end of May.

"This is hard for our institution — losing people who are passionate about student success is never easy. As a result of funding reductions, we have been forced to make some tough decisions," Gerritsen said.

"With the impact of the Government of Alberta's budget cuts to the post-secondary sector announced last October, and reinforced in the government's 2020 budget, our senior leadership has taken time to carefully review all possibilities to create a balanced budget that mitigates impact on the quality of instruction and student success."

U of C won't rule out layoffs; MRU has 'none planned'

In the aftermath of the budget's release, SAIT is not the only post-secondary institution in Calgary to consider cost reduction through job cuts. 

Ed McCauley, the president of the University of Calgary, said in a teleconference Friday that layoffs are possible for the U of C as well.

"We anticipate that, given the magnitude of this cut, [it] could lead to more positions being lost at the University of Calgary," McCauley said.

"This government was elected with a large plurality on an austerity mandate, and the University of Calgary recognizes its responsibility in helping to deliver on that mandate."

The U of C eliminated 250 jobs after the 2019 provincial budget was released last October, while Mount Royal University cut approximately 20 jobs.

This year, Tim Rahilly, president and vice-chancellor at MRU, told the CBC that the school is not considering job cuts again — yet.

"Certainly at this point, we don't have any cuts planned. That being said, it is clear that the expectation is that we need to control our expenditures," Rahilly said.

With files from Josee St-Onge, Diane Yanko and Tahirih Foroozan


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