OTTAWA – Over 150 academic staff association leaders meeting in Ottawa this week are calling on the Liberal government to uphold its promise to remove publicly funded post-secondary education institutions from the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). CAUT asserts the CCAA process undermines sound post-secondary governance and the transparency of public spending.
In 2021, the Liberals committed in their election platform to “protect public post-secondary educational institutions, such as Laurentian University, from being subject to corporate restructuring,” yet little has been done to change this.
“What happened at Laurentian was wrong and had far-reaching impacts for Northern Ontario, Francophone communities, and Indigenous communities,” said CAUT President Peter McInnis. “The Liberals made a promise that they would take action to ensure that this never happens again. As post-secondary teachers who understand the damaging consequences of the CCAA process we’re raising our voices to tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he and his Party must keep their word,” added McInnis.
The demand made during a meeting of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), comes on the heels of the Auditor General of Ontario’s Special Report on Laurentian University. The report details years of financial mismanagement, culminating in the unprecedented and unnecessary decision to file for insolvency protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) on February 1, 2021.
“The CCAA process is misaligned with the goals of public universities,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Post-secondary education is a public good that educates and trains students, promotes democracy, and provides vital research,” said Robinson. “These goals are incompatible with the commercial aims of the CCAA.”
CAUT is urging the government to amend the CCAA to explicitly exclude public post-secondary institutions. Senate Bill S-215 proposes to exempt universities and colleges from the CCAA. Bill C-228, which passed the House this week, amends the CCAA to provide important protections for employee pensions during an insolvency, but does not protect post-secondary education from commercial restructuring.
Adds Robinson: “The Liberals made a promise that they would take action to ensure that what happened at Laurentian would never happen again. Canada’s academics are holding them to it.”