Henri Giroux, president of the North Bay and District Labour Council, says the provincial government should support Laurentian University through its financial troubles.

“We believe the government should step up on this one and put the money in now,” Giroux said.

The Sudbury university is currently restructuring operations under court protection, which could lead to the cancellation of some programming and fewer staff.

“Why cut programs when you can fund it?” questioned Giroux. “Laurentian University has been there for a long time. We have good bilingual education there, there is good research, we have people who stay in northern Ontario after they finish their academics.”

“The government knew Laurentian was in trouble,” Giroux continued. “They knew these things were coming. That’s why we’re saying to them: ‘no, this shouldn’t be happening…They should be able to do something without going to court.”

Giroux fears that if Laurentian University loses programming because of financial challenges, it may affect other northern Ontario institutions.

“If Laurentian loses a lot of programs… is that going to happen to Nipissing here? Is that going to happen to Thunder Bay?” he said.

In 2019, the provincial government introduced legislation that effectively cut grant funding to colleges and universities.

Laurentian currently has creditor’s protection under the Companies’ Creditor Arrangement Act since February, which was endorsed by Superior Court Justice Geoffrey Morawetz. Under the act, the university has until the end of April to restructure operations to save money.

With files from Rosalind Russell