New Brunswick

Mount Allison University lays off employees, prepares for lower enrolment

Mount Allison University has laid off or reduced the hours of 52 employees because of uncertainty caused by COVID-19. 

President of Mount Allison Staff Association worries cuts will hurt morale and student experience

Mount Allison University launched an independent internal review of complaints about Rima Azar's personal blog in February. (Submitted by Mount Allison )

Mount Allison University is blaming the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 for its decision to lay off or reduce the hours of 52 employees, many of whom work in administration. 

Director of communications, Rob Hiscock, said the university is expecting a drop in enrolment in the fall, along with increased costs for cleaning and technology.

He said even though registration numbers look "positive" it's likely student numbers will be down compared with last year.

"I think all sorts of assumptions go out the window, and all universities are trying to figure that out." 

Rob Hiscock, the director of communications at Mount Allison University, said the university doesn't have a clear picture on what fall enrolment is going to look like. (Submitted by Mount Allison )

While the university never knows final enrolment numbers until the end of September, Hiscock said the pandemic has only heightened uncertainty.

"Student decision-making is also uncertain as well. So it's really that we don't know. The potential gap is larger than it would normally be." 

Union worried about impact on Sackville

In total, 36 employees have been laid off, while another 16 have had their hours reduced. Of those laid off, 25 have been given an expected date to return.

Tasha Hawkes, the president of the Mount Allison Staff Association, said this decision impacts the entire community. (Submitted by Tasha Hawkes )

No faculty members have received layoff notices. 

Tasha Hawkes, the president of the Mount Allison Staff Association, which represents some of the laid-off employees described the past week as a hard one for her CUPE members and for the Mount Allison community as a whole. 

"It's been a very emotional week for everyone," she said.

"We have a social responsibility to the town of Sackville and these decisions will not only impact the members of CUPE but will also impact the students, as well as the town as whole."

Hawkes said the union is meeting with the university administration tomorrow and she expects to see a draft budget that will explain why these layoffs were necessary.