Education featured Labour

No need for layoffs at Cape Breton University, says Faculty Association president

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Scott Stewart, president of the Cape Breton University Faculty Association, says that an external analysis shows that the university’s financial situation is relatively stable and there is no need for faculty layoffs.

Last month the university’s president David Wheeler invoked the layoff clause of the collective agreement, arguing that financial shortfalls necessitate the elimination of as many as 20 faculty positions in the near future.

That’s when the faculty association hired two professors of accounting of the University of Manitoba to take a second look.

“Their report shows that we have probably been as healthy as any university in the province over the last 10 years,” Scott Stewart, president of the faculty association, tells the Nova Scotia Advocate.

University administration counters that budget cuts and layoff are required to absorb decreasing enrolments and insufficient funding from the provincial government. In April of last year the university announced a budget pressure of close to $5 million.

Students meanwhile are facing a whopping 21 percent increase in tuition fees over the next four years.

“The administration seems to put the cart before the horse,” says Stewart. “Universities exist for faculty to teach students and do research. To lay off the folks who generate money for you, it’s hard to see how that makes sense.”

Rather than across the board, layoffs will likely affect Arts and Sciences in particular, Stewart fears.  Business and Hospitality programs are in relatively good shape, he says.

The impact of the potential job cuts will be felt beyond just the university, Stewart says.

“It represents a substantial economic loss to the community,” he says. “There are lots of good reasons to find ways not to lose jobs in an area that is already economically depressed.”