October 23, 2020

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U of A plans to cut 650 jobs by 2022 to overcome $127-million funding gap

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The University of Alberta will need to eliminate 650 more jobs by 2022 to dig...

The University of Alberta will need to eliminate 650 more jobs by 2022 to dig out of a $127-million hole, president Bill Flanagan says.



a man wearing glasses: University of Alberta president Bill Flanagan after holding a town hall on academic restructuring on Sept. 30, 2020.


© Provided by Edmonton Journal
University of Alberta president Bill Flanagan after holding a town hall on academic restructuring on Sept. 30, 2020.

This is on top of about 400 jobs already cut in the 2019-20 school year through layoffs, attrition and retirements. The university projects 325 job losses in both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.

Following a community town hall Wednesday, Flanagan said these cuts will impact the way the university functions and significant changes will be required. In a Friday statement, Flanagan said the restructuring won’t bring any more layoffs than the roughly 1,050 already announced.

“This is a major loss of people, skills and talent. Teams across the U of A are dealing with the loss of valued colleagues and changing workloads. This is an enormously challenging time for all of us, particularly for those directly affected by job loss,” Flanagan said. “But we cannot simply reduce positions and shift even greater workloads onto fewer people.”

As a result, the university is planning to undertake an academic restructuring with three cost-saving options on the table.

But two unions representing both academic and non-academic workers at the university are flagging concerns about the impact these changes could have and the rapid speed at which decisions are being made. The university hopes to have a recommendation in front of the board of governors by December.

The Association of Academic Staff at the University of Alberta (AASUA) represents 4,100 academic staff, from instructors to librarians, and the Non-Academic Staff Association includes 6,000 support staff.

AASUA president Ricardo Acuña said there needs to be more time to dig into how any restructuring will affect the university as a whole and the staff who remain to fill the lost positions.

“The sense that you can somehow start laying people off and it won’t have an impact on day-to-day life on campus is not a realistic sense at all,” he said in an interview with Postmedia. “I think everybody who’s there is there for a reason and when they go, it impacts somebody else’s ability to do that job. It means more work for those people left behind and it means a less-efficient campus in terms of the way we operate.”

Acuña said the 400 job losses, primarily affecting non-academic staff, has already taken its toll on university operations and increased the workload of professors.

The second of five planned town halls will take place Tuesday.

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