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“These accountable should be held accountable,” say Laurentian staff | Disaster at Laurentian College

In the document of about 130 pages (New window)reiterated Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk that she believes Laurentian University has no obligation to protect its creditors, but that it does so in a “strategic” way.

Weak and sometimes misguided surveillance by the Board of Governors led to a series of inappropriate financial decisions and ultimately the institution’s decision to invoke the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

She called too neither strategic nor transparent how the university went about determining which programs to cut.

The crisis was mainly caused by unwise investments between 2010 and 2020, she decides.

Ms. Lysyk recommends that Laurentian University improve its financial planning and that the Ontario Department of Colleges and Universities better monitor the financial health of post-secondary institutions.

Recommendations are important, but there must also be a second part, which is holding people accountablesaid Tom Fenske, chair of the Laurentian University white-collar union.

Tom Fenske stands in front of the Laurentian University buildings

Tom Fenske is the President of the Laurentian University Employees Union.

Photo: CBC/Erik White

The union plans to file civil lawsuits against former Laurentian University officials and board members who were in office when the university went bankrupt, Fenske said.

The crisis led to the cancellation of 69 programmes, including 28 French ones, and the dismissal of a hundred teachers and several dozen employees.

We are also investigating misconduct claims against all professionals who have been here and dropped out of college.adds Mr. Fenske.

Former Rector Dominic Giroux was skinned

Without naming him, the Auditor General alludes in its report to former Laurentian University rector Dominic Giroux, who took office in 2009, and under [la] reigns which the institution embarked on a modernization and expansion plan that resulted in the assumption of more than $87 million in long-term debt.

We found that the university’s management had neither developed nor worked according to a long-term plan that addressed the risks of rapidly mounting debt. It also did not assess how much the projects would increase revenue before significant capital expenditures were made. Rather, Laurentian seems to have taken the risky approach: “Building will attract customers”writes the Auditor General in her report.

Dominic Giroux becomes CEO of the Horizon Santé-Nord hospital

Dominic Giroux was President of Laurentian University from 2009 to 2017.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Courtesy: Horizon Santé-Nord

In an email sent to Radio-Canada, a spokesman for Horizon Santé-Nord hospital, currently run by Dominic Giroux, says the former rector of Laurentian University is out of the office this week due to activities related to his hospital duties.

“There are people who need to be held accountable,” the teachers’ union said

The President of the Association of Professors of Laurentian University (APPUL), Fabrice Colin, indicates that the union he leads may also consider the process of legal action.

In particular, as the Auditor General notes in its report, he criticizes the former administrators for refusing to invoke the financial commitment clause that would have required the university to work closely with the professors’ union to examine how they were in a precarious financial situation.

It is heartbreaking, scandalous indeed, and especially at a time when the administration was negotiating with the APPUL to renew the collective agreement, even though it knew its first idea was to appeal to the CCAA [Loi sur les arrangements avec les créanciers des compagnies]notes Mr. Colin.

There are indeed people who need to be held accountable. Those responsible for this debacle must be held accountable. »

A quote from Fabrice Colin, President of the Association of Professors at Laurentian University
A man in a black jacket with white stripes

Fabrice Colin is President of the Association of Professors of Laurentian University.

Photo: Radio Canada / Welcome Senga

However, he emphasizes this responsibility has already startedsince the Board of Governors and part of the top administration have been completely renewed since the beginning of the financial crisis in February 2021.

In her press conference on Thursday, the Auditor General thanked the new chair of the Laurentian University Board of Governors, Jeff Bangs, for his service excellent cooperation while his office staff attempted to obtain information relevant to the report.

The Auditor General had previously met with great resistance from the university.

In two years, Bonnie Lysyk also wants to ask the institution how the recommendations are implemented. She will publish another report later.

His office will conduct another follow-up in five to seven years.

With information from Francis Beaudry, Bienvenu Senga and CBC News

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