Sudbury·Audio

No bailout for Laurentian, Canadian Taxpayers Federation urges

Laurentian University needs to address some long-standing issues with its expenses, and taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to foot the bill, a federal advocacy group says.

Laurentian has long-standing issues with transparency and governance, Jay Goldberg says

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is saying that the provincial and federal governments should resist bailing out Laurentian University. (Radio-Canada)

Laurentian University needs to address some long-standing issues with its expenses, and taxpayers shouldn't be expected to foot the bill, a federal advocacy group says.

Jay Goldberg, interim director for the Ontario branch of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said the government would just be throwing good money after bad. 

"Unfortunately the university has gone through a long period of financial mismanagement that's put them in this position, and they're also projecting deficits for the next several years," said Goldberg.

"So even if the province stepped in to pay off that $100-million tab, the university would still be losing  money."

Laurentian became insolvent on Feb. 1, and since then, has been undergoing restructuring under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). Under the process, organizations are allowed to operate while straightening out their finances. 

Last month, the school began a series of deep cuts to staff and programs, and on the weekend a judge gave it the go-ahead to continue to restructure under creditor protection. Laurentian also has been approved to separate from three federated universities, in a move it says will save it millions.

Laurentian has 'expense problem'

Despite protests and public outcry about the slashing of programs and the termination of faculty contracts – community group Save our Sudbury, for instance, organized a candlelight vigil for cancelled classes that passed in view of the Laurentian president's home Friday – all levels of government should keep their hands out of the insolvency process until the school is on solid financial ground, Goldberg said.

"Laurentian doesn't have a revenue problem, it has an expense problem."

While noting that some of the issues fell under the reign of then president Dominic Giroux, Goldberg said the larger issues – like a lack of financial accountability – mean the school will have to root out some systemic weaknesses.

"We think the most important thing to protect taxpayers and also the Sudbury community is for the university to make sure that it can be solvent going forward."

There are lawn signs around Sudbury urging the provincial government to "Fund LU" but the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation says that's no way to solve the school's financial woes. 8:03

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Casey Stranges is a reporter based in Sudbury. casey.stranges@cbc.ca

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