250 jobs being eliminated at University of Calgary following 2019 Alberta budget

Click to play video: 'University of Calgary to slash 250 jobs after provincial budget cuts'
University of Calgary to slash 250 jobs after provincial budget cuts
WATCH: The University of Calgary says 250 jobs are being slashed because of recent provincial funding cuts. Silvana Benolich reports. – Nov 18, 2019

The University of Calgary is cutting 250 positions as it works to deal with budget shortfalls the school said are the result of the UCP government’s first provincial budget.

According to two university employees who spoke anonymously, the cuts mean 150 full-time employees will be terminated and the remaining 100 positions will be eliminated through attrition.

According to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which represents the university’s employees, the cuts will have a “direct impact on the education students receive.”

“The UCP was elected on a promise of creating jobs, but now we are losing hundreds of positions at just one university. Imagine how many hundreds more will be lost at universities and colleges across the province,” said AUPE vice-president Bobby-Joe Borodey.

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Click to play video: 'Demonstrators at Alberta legislature protest cuts to post-secondary education'
Demonstrators at Alberta legislature protest cuts to post-secondary education

The AUPE said the job cuts were “proof of more broken promises from the UCP.”

“The government also said most of the jobs it wanted to axe in the public sector would be through attrition. That’s another broken promise,” she said.

“The Kenney government also said it wanted to have universities prepare students so they could succeed and help fuel Alberta’s future, but by eliminating these important positions, they are making it harder for students to succeed.”

According to the AUPE, its members have “vital” roles in post-secondary schools, including advisors, lab assistants, registrars, as well as helping with research programs and building maintenance.

“The loss of these workers will have a direct impact on the education students receive. Combined with the soaring tuition fees and an increase in student-loan rates included in the budget, this is yet another broken promise,” Borodey said.

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“What no one in the government has been able to explain is why these students and these workers should be paying the price for $4.7-billion in tax giveaways to already profitable often foreign corporations.”

Jessica Revington, president of the U of C Students’ Union, said the union doesn’t yet know the extent of how the cuts will impact students or the campus on a wider level.

“We think that it’s important to hear from the university when it comes to things like tuition, when it comes to how they plan to support students and the rest of the campus in the face of these cuts,” Revington said.

It’s expected more details on how undergraduate and graduate tuition will be impacted will be explained at two town hall meetings set for later this week, Revington said.

“People are worried. People want to know how this will impact them on a day-to-day basis, particularly students.”

In an emailed statement, U of C president and vice-chancellor Ed McCauley said the school is facing “significant budgetary challenges” due to the budget.

“We were required to make difficult decisions for this in-year budget,” McCauley said, adding the university made decisions based on the 2017-2022 strategic plan.

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McCauley said 150 terminations will be happening in two phases, the first will happen this month and the second are expected in mid-January. The other 100 positions are being eliminated through retirements, not filling current vacancies and resignations.

“UCalgary remains fully committed to providing a rich teaching, learning and research environment and in ensuring our students have a rewarding student experience.”

The U of C was one of the educational institutions expected to see the biggest hit after the government slashed advanced education funding.

The news of the job eliminations came the same day students rallied outside the Alberta legislature against UCP cuts they say are getting in the way of their education.

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