Sudbury MP's bill would prevent other universities from filing for creditor protection
SUDBURY -- Laurentian University could be the last university to file for creditor protection, if the Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre is able to get his private member's bill approved in the House of Commons.
Lefebvre, who is tabling his bill Monday, revealed his plans during an emergency debate granted to Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus.
"On Feb. 1, when Laurentian decided to protect itself from creditors through the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act process, all of the residents of Sudbury and I were shocked and in disbelief," Lefebvre said.
He's hopeful his bill will amend the CCAA to ensure that it's not used to restructure public institutions across the country. It's unclear if he will be successful. With the minority government, he will need the support of other parties for it to pass.
He'll also need someone to carry the torch forward if an election is called before the bill is able to move through the system. Lefebvre recently announced he's not running for re-election.
Lefebvre said one of the school's biggest creditors is the federal government, and said the previous funding they provided the school is not there because of the CCAA process.
"I have close friends who are affected and who lost their jobs. I have friends and family members who are Laurentian University students and who do not know what will happen on May 1 or Sept. 1," he told his colleagues in the House. "We are going through a difficult period. We are having a hard time understanding, and we have plenty of questions. Anxiety is high, and that worries me."
The Sudbury politician and businessman said he spoke with the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages to see what they could do. They are also talking to their provincial counterparts.
"Universities and colleges are a creation of provincial law," Lefebvre said. "The provinces have more than a leadership role to play. It is their responsibility and it is their jurisdiction. That being said, certainly our government has been steadfast since the beginning … that we will be there to work with the provinces to determined and help out as we move forward."
Lefebvre said he has been asked by constituents to step in and stop the CCAA process, something the federal government can't do.
"We knew the situation Laurentian was in, and it is not the only one," he said. "We cannot continue cutting post-secondary funding at the provincial level and expect the federal government to always come in with a cheque. It is the responsibility of the provinces. They have a duty."