Posted on May 26, 2020


EDMONTON - Alberta’s NDP Opposition revealed the UCP are responsible for nearly 3,600 job losses, and counting, in one of the largest mass layoffs in Alberta’s post-secondary system. The number is ten times what was predicted in the government’s own budget projections. 

In today’s Public Accounts committee meeting, NDP Advanced Education Critic David Eggen questioned ministry officials on what these massive layoffs will mean for students and Alberta’s ability to deliver a world-class education, critical for our economic future and the prosperity of our province.

“Jason Kenney and the UCP are using the pandemic to advance their agenda of cuts and this short sighted decision will create a generational gap in higher education,” Eggen said. “The fact of the matter is that students are paying more in tuition but getting less. Cuts to programs and staffing means less choices and time with educators.”

Alberta’s NDP Opposition is calling on the UCP to stop further layoffs at Alberta’s post-secondary institutions and immediately reverse the 3,538 job cuts at Athabasca University, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, MacEwan University, Mount Royal University, Bow Valley College, Grande Prairie Regional College, Keyano College, Lakeland College, Lethbridge College, Medicine Hat College, Olds College, Red Deer College, NAIT and SAIT. 

Marc Waddingham, president of University of Alberta Graduate Students’ Association said recognizing the future economic sustainability of our province is directly tied to our post-secondary system, they believe in the necessity of adequate funding for advanced education. 

“Provincial budget reductions have resulted in significant layoffs across our sector, which has the potential to negatively impact Alberta’s ability to respond to COVID-19’s short-term and longer-term consequences,” Waddingham said. “While we understand there are opportunities for efficiencies in the post-secondary sector, the recent budget cuts to the University of Alberta, in particular, are entirely unprecedented and have been applied too quickly during a time of economic crisis, the consequences of which we have yet to fully comprehend. 

“The key to future economic growth in Alberta lies in our post-secondary institutions and our proper stewardship of them. It is inadvisable to diminish the abilities of these institutions to support staff and students in their capacity to drive innovation and prosperity.”

Donna-Mae Winquist, president of MacEwan Staff Association said they are down 33 per cent in staff numbers from this time last year and have lost between 100 and 150 casual employees and summer staff. They have also been advocating for a halt to the budget cuts to post-secondary institutions. 

“We continue to support this call to halt the cuts in solidarity with other unions and our fellow faculty, student and staff associations in the post-secondary sector across the province,” Winquist said. “We also appreciate how the NDP is working to increase the public's perception on the real impacts this is having to the post-secondary sector. The layoffs of employees to meet the budget targets imposed by the UCP has and will continue to impact their institutions, remaining colleagues, current and prospective students and all Albertans.”

Ken Heather, VP External for Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association said they are very concerned that post-secondary cuts will continue to come.

“ACIFA is very concerned that post-secondary has not finished seeing the reduction of programs and the loss of faculty and staff as institutions respond to the recent budget cuts and mandates from Advanced Education to reduce spending,” Heather said. “In addition to these losses, ACIFA is also concerned about the possibility of temporary layoffs – none of which are addressed within current collective agreements – and a lockout against faculty members.”

Alberta’s NDP Opposition also renews its April 16 call to implement our post-secondary education recommendations, including a tuition freeze, restoration of the STEP program and the elimination of a performance-based funding model.