Ontario court grants creditor protection to Laurentian University until August 31

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On February 1, 2021, the main entrance to the Laurentian University campus.

Gino Donato / The Globe and Mail

An Ontario court has extended an order allowing a struggling Northern Ontario university to continue working while protecting it from its creditors.

The termination of the legal proceedings against Laurentian University, which ended on Sunday evening, has been prolonged until 31 August as the school is being restructured.

In a handful of rulers issued over the weekend, the Ontario Superior Court agreed to allow Laurentian to cut ties with the three federal universities as part of the school’s efforts to regain financial stability.

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Those universities – Sudbury University, Thornello University and Huntington University – cannot directly use provincial funds, and instead receive funding from Laurentian according to a funding formula in exchange for delivering programs and services.

Huntington entered into an agreement with Laurentian before the early termination date of the stay, while the other two schools had opposed the proposal to change ties, citing financial hardship and other grounds.

The separation of the three schools was one of the criteria of Sudbury, Ont. The university was required to complete in order to use the $ 10 million loan.

Monitoring for proceedings in a report filed on 26 April said the additional financing should give “sufficient liquidity” to Laurentian to fund its operations by 31 August.

Also, stating that the extension of stay to Laurentian students should provide “comfort” that the university will continue to function normally in the spring and summer semesters, Ernst & Young wrote in the report.

The monitor said that given the recent uncertainty, Laurentian had allowed students to enroll without a deposit, but now with payments due on Friday, they would have to do the billing.

It said more than 2,900 undergraduate students were registered as of last Monday, and about 470 undergraduate students signed up for at least one course.

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The Laurentian has been under the patronage of the creditor since 1 February. School president Robert Hutche has said that the institution has gone bankrupt after a decade of financial stress due to various issues such as the area’s dwindling population.

At the time, Hutchey said that the court proceedings under the system of creditors of federal companies would not affect the day-to-day operations at the university.

Last month, Laurentian cut more than 60 academic programs, most of them at graduation, stating that “historically low growth.”

Meanwhile, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations said more than 80 faculty members have lost their jobs as a result of the move.

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