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Staff at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology have been told to expect between 190 and 240 positions to be cut following last week's provincial budget, according to an internal blog from school president Ray Block. 

Block wrote the reductions would amount to between seven and nine per cent of staff and would affect full-time, part-time and casual workers.

"The final number will depend on what we hear form the board and choices made by staff in the coming weeks," reads Block's blog post. 

"Please continue to support each other through this change." 

The blog indicates the school is also launching a voluntary departure program for staff. The school needs to find $50 million in savings through reduced expenses and growing revenue, including increased enrolment and tuition.

"We will continue to make the decisions necessary to advance us towards achieving our vision. NAIT’s values of respect, collaboration, celebration, support and accountability will continue to guide us in our decision-making." 

The school expects further reductions in post-secondary funding for the next two years as well as a continued emphasis on cutting expenses, according to the blog.  

"We are analyzing this in light of our budget projections and performance metrics yet to be finalized from government." 

Block writes the school was on track to balance its budget but the Alberta government's first budget delivered on Oct. 24, 2019 "caused a major reset." 

The blog outlines how the school's board of governors is considering a new strategic approach to fit within the constraints of the new budget. The board will vote on the changes on April 2.

The announcement comes a week after NAIT's sister school, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, announced it was cutting 230 positions as a result of the province's October 2019 budget. 

SAIT officials also told students to expect tuition increases and new fees to "enhance technology services and student support." 

In an email to CTV News, Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said that staff reductions aren't easy and that school administrators didn't arrive at the decision lightly. 

"I know it will be a challenging time for the individuals and families affected and I am confident that they will be treated with dignity and care and that their institution will provide them with the highest possible level of support during their transition," he wrote. 

"This does not mean we place less value in skilled trades, on the contrary, we believe in establishing a parity of esteem, where a trades certificate has the same value, merit and worth as a university degree." 

The Opposition called the cuts a result of  "a doubling down on the attack on post-secondary institutions," noting the government has pledged to support trades in last week's throne speech. 

"Our post-secondary institutions aren't just helping students. It helps to diversify our economy," said Opposition advanced education critic David Eggen. 

"It's not like trimming the fat. These are body blows."

Since October, Edmonton has had the fourth, second, first, and second highest monthly unemployment rates of any major Canadian city.

Budget 2019 cut Alberta post-secondary education's budget from $5.4 billion to $5.1 billion for 2019-20, and a further six per cent down to $4.8 billion in 2022-23. It also eliminated tuition and education credits effective Jan. 1, 2020 and increased the interest rate on student loans by one per cent. 

Budget 2020, delivered last week, didn't outline any further cuts. But, it also projected a $290-million increase in tuition fees between 2019-20 and 2022-23. The advanced education budget will be $5.1 billion in 2020-21 — a six per cent reduction from the 2019-20 forecast.