Laurentian University needs to hire more faculty members, says association

Laurentian University’s plan of arrangement is missing some key demands from the Sudbury, Ont., school's faculty association, said its vice-president.

Association wants commitments to transparency, more professors as Sudbury school exits insolvency

Student with helmet walking into Laurentian University
Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., filed for insolvency in February 2021 and cut 69 programs two months later. (Erik White/CBC )

Laurentian University's plan of arrangement is missing some key demands from the Sudbury, Ont., school's faculty association, said its vice-president.

On Thursday the university filed its plan of arrangement, which is the final step needed to exit insolvency proceedings that started in February 2021.

The plan sets out the terms between Laurentian and its creditors, and outlines the steps it will need to take to rebuild.

In April 2021, the university ended 69 programs and cut nearly 200 staff and faculty positions.

Louis Durand, vice-president of the Laurentian University Faculty Association, said he was disappointed not to see a commitment to hire more faculty members and fill the gaps left in the wake of the university's insolvency.

"We have lost more than 110 faculty members," Durand said. "And since this time, since April 2021, 20 other faculty members left Laurentian for retirement or because they'd found a job elsewhere." 

Durand said he also would have liked to have seen a greater commitment to transparency from the university's administration in the plan of arrangement.

But he said he did welcome news Laurentian president Robert Haché and provost Marie-Josée Berger would be stepping down once Laurentian exits the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) process.

The faculty association has argued Laurentian could have addressed its financial problems without resorting to the CCAA, a process typically reserved for the private sector.

Laurentian will seek a court order July 28 to authorize a meeting of creditors that would be held Sept.14 to vote on the plan.

Tom Fenske, president of the Laurentian University Staff Union, said the court is likely to approve the plan. But Laurentian will then need at least two-thirds of its creditors to vote in favour of it.

Fenske said those creditors are expected to get between 14 and 24 per cent of the money they are owed.

High stakes

"If the plan is not approved, it is expected that Laurentian would have no alternative but to cease operations," said a court document submitted July 22. 

"Without Laurentian, many stakeholder groups would be impacted, including students, faculty, Indigenous communities, francophones, and northern municipalities and businesses. Laurentian's impact on northern Ontario is significant and is a vital aspect of its continued growth and success."

Both Durand and Fenske said their members were in the process of determining whether to support the university's plan of arrangement.

In May, the province offered to purchase $53.5 million worth of Laurentian-owned land or buildings. That money would be used to pay back creditors.

"Banks are not exactly suffering. And so the idea that they would be still partly, or responsible, for a university closing in Canada, I think that would be highly unlikely," Fenske said.


  • A previous version of this story implied strong support for the plan of arrangement from Laurentian's unions. Both unions have said they will consider the plan and share it with their members.
    Jul 26, 2022 10:49 AM ET


Jonathan Migneault

Digital reporter/editor

Jonathan Migneault is a CBC digital reporter/editor based in Sudbury. He is always looking for good stories about northeastern Ontario. Send story ideas to