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Laurentian emerges from insolvency ahead of Nov. 30 deadline

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Laurentian University has formally exited the insolvency process, the school announced Monday, ending almost two years of turmoil at the institution.

LU sent shockwaves across the community Feb. 21, 2021, when it announced it was insolvent and was entering protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

It was the first time a public institution declared a form of bankruptcy under the CCAA in Canada. More than 60 programs and 150 jobs were lost in the process.

“While there is much healing and hard work yet to be done, today we emerge stronger with safeguards in place to ensure a sustainable, more transparent and inclusive future,” Jeff Bangs, chair of the board of governors, said in a news release Monday.

“Reforming our governance, improving operations and heeding the recommendations of the auditor general will keep us on track but, most importantly, we must be committed to respecting all of the university’s stakeholders as key decisions about the future are made.”

A review by Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk concluded the bankruptcy was largely caused by poorly planned capital spending between 2009-2018, compounded by the loss of international students because of a dispute with Saudi Arabia and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Robert Haché was president when the CCAA declaration took place, but he has since resigned. While he insisted that the choice was close the school or declare insolvency, Lysyk’s audit concluded that Haché made the conscious decision to declare insolvency.

For example, he paid off a line of credit, Lysyk said, making it appear LU had no money to continue operating. And Haché asked the province last-minute for a $100 million bailout. When the province didn’t immediately agree, he declared under the CCAA.

Tammy Eger, LU’s interim president, said Monday they are committed to rebuilding pride and confidence in the university.

“We’ll do this through our actions in the months and years ahead as we form our strategic plan and continue organizational transformation,” Eger is quoted as saying in the release,

“Students and parents can feel confident in their decision to choose Laurentian to advance their education ... The future is bright for Laurentian, we have work ahead to transform our institution, but the path forward is clear. We are inspired to realize the vast potential within our community.”

Laurentian University has more than 8,000 students and is one of two bilingual universities in Ontario. 

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