Laurentian president breaks silence, speaks about insolvency process

More than seven months after Laurentian University in Sudbury filed for creditor protection, Robert Haché, the school's president is speaking with the media about what happened.

In April, the university cut more than 60 programs and more than 150 jobs. Laurentian became the first publicly funded entity in Canada to seek bankruptcy protection.

Haché said it was either seek creditor protection or close the school's doors.

"It is the result of a long series of events over an extended period of time that literally left us with the difficult -- but necessary -- decision to enter creditor protection," he said.

The school's name has since become synonymous with financial difficulties. The Canadian government even met to ensure other schools aren't forced to pull a "Laurentian."

It's a reality that gives Haché mixed feelings.

"Because I know in the first instance how challenging this whole situation has been for the community -- and we've talked about the anger, the hurt, the angst, all the uncertainty that's caused by the decision to go through this restructuring process -- I fully appreciate that," he said.

"But on the other hand, I also know that if this option had not been available to Laurentian at the end of January this year, the university would have closed."

A lack of transparency has been a big issue for many in the community. Haché said he couldn't comment on what help -- if any was -- offered by the province, or when the public might get those answers.

"I know that people have a lot of questions, and they're questions that are difficult to answer in the context that we're in," he said.

For now, he said they are concentrating on rebuilding bridges and trust in the community. While there are no exact enrollment numbers yet, Haché said only 10 per cent of students were impacted by the deep cuts to programs.

"There is absolutely a lot of work to do, but there is an opportunity for this to be the university that everyone in the community expects it to be," he added.

When asked exactly who's to blame for the fiasco, Haché said he couldn't answer, but did note that a lot of the school's problems were historical.

Since resuming in-person classes, the school says 92 per cent have already confirmed they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.