University of Sudbury bucks Laurentian's bid to break up with federation

The University of Sudbury has filed a notice of motion to stop financially beleaguered Laurentian University from cutting ties with it.

As part of its financial restructuring, Laurentian terminated its agreement with 3 universities

As part of the CCAA process, Laurentian says its terminating its federation agreement with Huntington University, Thorneloe University and the University of Sudbury. It says the termination goes into effect on May 1. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

The University of Sudbury has filed a notice of motion to stop Laurentian University from cutting ties with it.

The affidavit was filed by the chair of the board of regents, Pierre Riopel. The document says the federated partnership is permanent and can't be terminated by Laurentian alone.

The filing was made in the wake of Laurentian announcing it was severing ties with the University of Sudbury as well as Huntington and Thorneloe.

The federated universities offer specific programming such as Indigenous studies, but, for the most part, don't confer degrees themselves.

Over the past week, Laurentian has cut dozens of staff and programs as part of its restructuring under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and the insolvency process, which allows it to operate while dealing with its financial situation. The moves have prompted protests and outcry. 

Laurentian says it wants to retain millions in funding that flowed to those three universities through the agreement.

But the University of Sudbury says Laurentian doesn't benefit financially, and ending the agreement would not help Laurentian financially.

Thorneloe is also mounting a court challenge. So far, Huntington has not filed any motion.

University of Sudbury makes its case

In the notice of motion, Riopel says terminating the federated agreement with Laurentian will:

  • Cause financial hardship to the University of Sudbury.
  • Put itself in a position under the lease to take over ownership of the buildings that the University of Sudbury paid many millions of dollars to build and maintain.
  • Take students who would have otherwise taken courses from the University of Sudbury.
  • Saddle the University of Sudbury with the costs of the termination of its employees, estimated to be $4 million, all while Laurentian would appropriate 100 per cent of all student revenues from tuition and grants.

On its insolvency information website, Laurentian says "the termination of the federation agreements was necessary in order to ensure that funds paid by Laurentian to the federated universities each year for the delivery of programs and courses to Laurentian students remain with Laurentian. This is part of its path to financial sustainability.

Going forward, it says, "Laurentian has the capacity, the classrooms, and the faculty to teach all Laurentian students. These steps allow Laurentian to ensure that its resources remain focused on programs and courses that Laurentian students have demonstrated they are interested in taking."

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