Ontario court extends Laurentian University creditors protection until August 31

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

Gino Donato / The Globe and Mail

An Ontario court extended an order allowing a struggling northern Ontario university to continue operating while being protected from its creditors.

The stay of lawsuits against Laurentian University, which was due to expire Sunday evening, has been extended until August 31 as the school undergoes restructuring.

In a handful of decisions released over the weekend, the Ontario Superior Court also agreed to let Laurentian cut ties with three federated universities as part of the school’s efforts to gain financial stability.

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These universities – the University of Sudbury, Thorneloe University and Huntington University – cannot directly access provincial funding and instead receive money from Laurentian on a funding formula in exchange for delivering programs and Services.

Although Huntington made a deal with Laurentian before the stay’s original expiry date, the other two schools had opposed the proposal to sever ties, citing financial hardship and other reasons.

The separation of the three schools was one of the criteria the University of Sudbury, Ontario, had to meet to access a $ 10 million loan.

In a report filed April 26, the procedural watchdog said the additional funding should give Laurentian “sufficient liquidity” to fund its operations through August 31.

Additionally, the extended stay should “reassure” Laurentian students that the university will continue to operate normally throughout the spring and summer semester, Ernst & Young writes in the report.

The monitor said that given recent uncertainty, Laurentian had allowed students to enroll without paying a deposit, but will now charge them with payments due Friday.

More than 2,900 undergraduates were enrolled as of Monday and around 470 graduate students had enrolled in at least one course, he said.

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Laurentian has been under creditors’ protection since February 1. School president Robert Hache said the institution had become insolvent after a decade of financial stress over various issues such as the region’s population decline.

At the time, Hache said court proceedings under the Federal Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act would not affect the day-to-day operations of the university.

Last month, Laurentian cut more than 60 university programs, most at the undergraduate level, it says “a historically low enrollment rate.”

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

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