Two months ago, Laurentian University (LU) was forced to file for creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

This situation was caused by years of underfunding by the province and fiscal mismanagement by the Board of Governors.

LU could have recovered had the Ford government injected a healthy dose of funding. But the government instead let it fail: the university became insolvent and found itself unable to pay of its debts.

Despite it being a public institution, the Ford government took a hands-off approach and pushed LU into the CCAA, a process that’s meant for the private sector.

The outcome? LU is being forced into restructuring and balancing its books on the backs of its employees as well as through cuts to programs and course offerings.

Under the CCAA, LU has been given until April 30 to restructure the university. LU’s case before the courts was that the university was offering too many courses, programs and professors. It is clear that these are the areas where LU is planning to make cuts. Hundreds of jobs and important learning opportunities will be lost.

Tragically, LU’s tricultural mandate, “which recognizes the French, English and Indigenous cultures of Northern Ontario,” is also at risk of being diluted.

The future does not look bright for the LU community.

What can you do?

Download and share this artwork by Michael DeForge to show your support for Laurentian University:

Please sign our e-action below and send a message to Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano, Minister of Francophone Affairs Caroline Mulroney, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Northern MPs demanding that the provincial government take immediate action to save Laurentian University.

Dear Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano, Minister of Francophone Affairs Caroline Mulroney and Premier of Ontario Doug Ford,

I am writing to you today to demand that the provincial government take immediate action to save Laurentian University and the federated universities!

As you know, Laurentian is a publicly funded institution, not a for-profit corporation. Publicly funded institutions should never be permitted to seek protection from creditors through the CCAA. The CCAA process on which your government has forced Laurentian University to embark is meant for private institutions trying to avoid bankruptcy. It is not meant for public institutions whose health and wellbeing lie with you!

It is your responsibility to provide short-term funding relief in times of crisis. Laurentian University has been hit hard by the insolvency crisis and the pandemic, yet you forced it to take out a loan of $25 million dollars to continue operations going until the end of the month, and it is the only Ontario university that received no COVID-19 emergency funding from your government.

It is your responsibility to provide healthy long-term funding at all times. Laurentian University has a bilingual and tricultural mandate “which recognizes the French, English and Indigenous cultures of Northern Ontario.” For these mandates to be carried out meaningfully and effectively, you have to invest in generous funding.

It is your responsibility to ensure that there is proper oversight over the running and operations at Ontario universities. Laurentian University’s financial woes have been common knowledge for years, and Laurentian University President Robert Haché contacted you about the problem over a year ago. Moreover, you have always had a seat at the table: your government has a right to 5 appointees to the Laurentian Board of Directors. These are your eyes and ears on the ground, yet you have allowed there to be two vacancies.

It is your responsibility to represent Ontarians and create healthy communities where they can thrive. Instead, you have shut them out of, and refused to consult with them about, the restructuring process, which has been secretive and carried out behind closed doors. Your aim in this process has been to circumvent collective agreements, and to cut programs, courses and teaching positions. Hundreds of working-class Ontarians will lose jobs because of you, thousands of students will lose out on important learning opportunities, and the entire Sudbury and Northern Ontario community is going to suffer the consequences.

I demand that you put an immediate end to the CCAA process and provide immediate short-term and long-term funding to Laurentian University now! I demand that you do your part to clean up the Board of Directors by filling vacant appointments and replacing current appointees with experts who understand what a healthy university community looks like! And I demand that you consult with the community members whose lives your reckless actions are impacting!  And I urge the Federal government to immediately bring forward legislation that excludes publicly funded institutions from seeking protection under the CCAA. The federal government must take action now to ensure the CCAA is never again used to destroy a university.


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