Nfld. & Labrador

Instructor cuts at CNA hurting rural towns, union says

The union that represents instructors at Newfoundland and Labrador's College of the North Atlantic says programs at rural campuses could be better promoted.

CNA president pledges to examine what new programming would grow campuses

The Bay St. George campus is one of four affected by faculty layoffs, according to NAPE. (Submitted)

The College of the North Atlantic confirmed it has axed 14 full-time permanent staff, and another six contract faculty positions won't be renewed.

The union that represents teaching staff at CNA said rural campuses, and in particular industrial trades programs, are the hardest hit by the job losses.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) said Monday that the layoffs are happening because of declining enrolment, not budget cuts.

According to NAPE, six people have been let go in office administration and process operations engineering technology courses at Corner Brook.

Four of the laid off instructors were at the Burin campus, teaching instrumentation and controls, metal fabrication and sheet metal programs.

Three others were teaching construction and electrical in Bonavista and Bay St. George.

"These campuses, these programs, and these good jobs are integral parts of the economic structure of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Each cut has a ripple effect on the local economy," said NAPE president Jerry Earle in a news release.

Not the first round of layoffs

According to Earle, there have been dozens of faculty laid off in the past five years, mostly at rural campuses.

He said the college should do a better job of promoting programs at those campuses.

"They should be engaging with their frontline staff, faculty, and their union on ways to mitigate impact, create and attract new programs, and improve enrolment and program delivery."

There were 5,482 students enrolled at CNA last year, down 4.7 per cent from 2013. Numbers provided by CNA show the Bonavista campus had only 18 students, while the Baie Verte campus had 15. 

Bill Radford says the college is committed to looking at what new programming would attract students to its campuses. (Submitted)

In May of 2017, the college suspended seven programs and cut 11 permanent positions along with 34 contractual staff because of declining numbers.

A review of college operations last year identified academic planning shortfalls, as well as a need to modernize programs and courses offered.

CNA admits more critical consideration needed

Bill Radford, CNA's president and CEO, said the cuts come down to enrolment numbers and "we don't do this lightly."

He said the college is doing strategic planning to try and halt the decline and grow campuses.

"What we're going to be doing this year is look at what are the industry demands, what new programming should we be putting on," Radford told CBC Radio's Corner Brook Morning Show.

He said the automation of trucks is a good example of a new program that the college should jump on. 

"If we can get ahead of the curve in those things and then we will attract people to the campuses for the training, which is what happens elsewhere in the country. People come to those communities for the training and then they can stay," Radford said.

The view, food and drink have made Bonavista a popular destination, and Radford says the college should consider new programming that reflects what is happening in the community. (Port Rexton Brewing)

Radford said CNA is also going to look at the communities where campuses are located for inspiration.

He points to the Bonavista area, noting it's become a hub of ecotourism activity with sought-after restaurants and the popular Port Rexton Brewery.

"We need to look at what's happening locally and what programming should we put on locally that can support what's happening locally and increase it and help a new generation," Radford said.

"The college hasn't been responsive in that way in the past ... If we keep on doing things in the way we've done things, then — as NAPE said in its publication — it will be death by a thousand cuts, but I don't believe that's necessary."

With files from On the Go and Corner Brook Morning Show