Hello, Aanii, Bonjour,
It has been a few weeks of rapid and significant developments at Laurentian University. I write to you today as I am now able to provide an update on what has taken place recently, and also to clarify the next stages in the CCAA process. As promised, we will provide updates throughout the CCAA proceeding, as information becomes available and as we are able to do so.
Details of the CCAA Process
Laurentian recently filed with the court a Motion Record including an Affidavit that I signed supporting a request for an extension to the initial stay of proceedings through to August 31, for approval of the agreements reached with our labour partners and with Huntington University and for an additional $10 million in financing, all of which will allow the University to move to the next phase of its restructuring. My Affidavit also provides details around the decision to terminate the agreements with the Federated Universities, information related to academic program closures and the administrative restructuring of departments and faculties, and other relevant information. The court-appointed Monitor also filed its Third Report to the Court, which can be accessed here.
We want to ensure that all members of our Laurentian community and stakeholders receive accurate and current information, and for that reason we recommend that you refer to the Affidavit and the Monitor’s Third Report that were filed with the Court for the most updated information. I want to remind everyone that all information filed by any party in this CCAA proceeding can be accessed by anyone through the Monitor’s website at: https://www.ey.com/ca/Laurentian. I would like to highlight a few points that relate to questions I have received.
As previously detailed in April, due to the unsustainable nature of the financial agreements between Laurentian and the federated universities, Laurentian made the decision to terminate the contracts establishing the federated structure, as it is entitled to do under the CCAA statute. To be clear, the termination is only with respect to the contracts for the delivery of courses and programs through the federated universities and the payment to the federated universities for the delivery of those programs and courses. It is important to note that Laurentian has not taken any steps that would extinguish the right of any of the Federated Universities to continue to exist, or to have a continued presence and create a historic legacy on campus. We value Laurentian’s historic relationship with each of them, and look forward to finding ways to celebrate that legacy in a new way. The financial cost to Laurentian for the delivery of courses and programs through the Federated Universities was $7.7 million last year, and that is simply not sustainable in our current environment. Laurentian has the ability and the capacity to teach all students within the restructured environment, and will do so in future.
On Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 10:00 pm we received the Court’s decision upholding the termination notices issued by Laurentian in respect of the agreements with each of the federated universities. A link to Laurentian’s news release as to the effect of the court’s decisions can be found here.
Restructuring of Academic Programs
The process for determining program closures is detailed on page 44 of the affidavit. These details provide the guiding principles that were used in determining which programs were no longer sustainable and identified for closure. Factors such as student-to-credit ratio, historical enrollment, program appeal, and overall cost of delivery were considered.
Throughout the process, additional consideration was given to Laurentian’s French-langague programs. Specifically, the required student-to-credit ratio was lower for French-language programs in relation to the English-language programs, and there was consideration for programs leading to degrees under the French Language Services Act, which is important to delivering on our commitment to Francophone education.
Although the Midwifery and Sage-femme programs have been a point of pride for Laurentian University, the financial costs associated with running these programs could not adequately be met by funding received from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Health. Midwifery is an expensive program to run (relative to other programs), is capped at 30 students (total across both French and English programs), and as a result, it is no longer possible for Laurentian to subsidize the operations of this program.
To accommodate Midwifery students, Laurentian is communicating options to help them make informed decisions about their academic future.
- Students who are completing their fourth year will complete their courses within the next few months and will graduate with a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Midwifery from Laurentian.
- Students who are completing their 3rd year and entering 4th year will be able to complete the remainder of their courses at either McMaster or Ryerson. The students will not need to physically relocate, as the course will be taught through virtual distance learning, together with a potential in-person intensive clinical skills course. Students will graduate with degrees from McMaster or Ryerson if they have fully transferred or will graduate with a Laurentian degree if they complete their courses on a Letter of Permission.
- For students in their 1st or 2nd year, Laurentian will help facilitate transfers to McMaster or Ryerson and students will graduate with degrees from McMaster or Ryerson. There will be virtual learning opportunities and placements can be completed in the Sudbury/Northern Ontario region, such that physical relocation may not be necessary. For francophone students, tutorials in French will be provided.
Next Phase of CCAA
On May 1st, Laurentian entered the second phase of the CCAA process, which involves continuing consultations with various stakeholders, establishing a claims process in order to assess the claims of all creditors, continuing our review and implementation of operational and financial restructuring initiatives and developing a formal Plan of Arrangement that will outline the terms of the University’s emergence from CCAA protection, progressing towards financial sustainability.
I am pleased to say that the next phase of the CCAA process will allow for an increase in engagement with a wider variety of stakeholders as well as increased opportunities for communication at every stage. I look forward to engaging with our stakeholders specifically through a review of all operational and governance matters within the University in order to identify and implement best practices for the future.
The third phase of the CCAA restructuring will begin as the Fall 2021 term kicks off and will include the implementation of the new academic structure. We will continue to deliver a quality education and dynamic student experience, and are optimistic about the potential to return to campus for face-to-face instruction for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I will continue to update our community as I am able, as the CCAA process continues to unfold.
Thank you, Miigwech, Merci,
Robert Haché, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor