Laurentian University goes before the courts again Aug. 17 as it seeks approval for a proposed framework for calculating payouts for former employees affected by its recent restructuring.
The university has been negotiating with unions to determine a formula that will dictate how much money these former Laurentian workers will receive.
Court documents submitted by lawyers representing the university say the proposed methodology “represents a fair, efficient, and reasonable process for notification and determination of compensation claims against the applicant.”
After declaring insolvency this past winter and filing for creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), Laurentian made massive cuts to its programs and employees this spring as part of its court-supervised restructuring.
The 194 full-time workers laid off by Laurentian in April include 116 full-time faculty positions (members of the Laurentian University Faculty Association, or LUFA), 41 unionized staff (members of the Laurentian University Staff Union, or LUSU) and 37 non-union jobs (24 of which were in management and executive positions).
Former Laurentian employees seeking their severance pay and other money they’re due will undergo a separate process than the rest of Laurentian’s creditors, who were to have submitted claims against the university by July 30.
According to the court documents, Laurentian, along with Ernst & Young, the court-appointed monitor of the insolvency proceedings, plan to send “statements of compensation claim” to each “known, potential compensation claimant.”
This information will be sent to their last known address or email address.
The university proposes a “bar date” deadline of Oct. 14 for those who believe they have a compensation claim against Laurentian, but were not contacted about the matter, to submit an inquiry form.
The same deadline has also been proposed for former employees who have received a statement of compensation claim, but wish to dispute the information sent to them.
Ernst & Young estimates that there are about 1,200 compensation claimants that will be captured by this process.
It will address various potential types of compensation claims, including termination and severance, administrative leave for senior leaders, vacation pay and professional and research allowances.
Many Laurentian retirees are also captured under the claims process because of what happened with the Retirees’ Health and Benefit Plan (or RHBP).
Because Laurentian did not establish a separate trust account for RHBP contributions, money paid into the fund by LU was “recorded as a liability” when the university declared insolvency. The RHBP was terminated April 30 as part of Laurentian’s restructuring.
Last month, Jean-Charles Cachon, the former secretary-treasurer of the Laurentian University Faculty Association told Sudbury.com he expects those affected by the job cuts this spring to receive “peanuts” when it comes to severance pay.
“That was the message that was unequivocal since the beginning,” said Jean-Charles Cachon, who taught business at Laurentian until he was forced to retire as part of the university’s cuts. “That has been told to us since the month of February. The term used was cents on the dollar. But there is no indication whether it will be half a cent or two cents. I mean basically there will be nothing for people who are shaping this institution.
“I’m not expecting anything really substantive, and, unfortunately, for people who are in the middle of their career, and who should have been receiving proper compensation, unfortunately this is not going to happen.
“That’s the most terrible part of all of this. There is no way people can recoup anything.”