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Camosun cutting jobs to balance its budget

Apr 04 2012
Camosun College expects to meet part of its staff cutting target through attrition. 

Camosun College expects to meet part of its staff cutting target through attrition.

Photograph by: Darren Stone , timescolonist.com

Camosun College will have to cut more than 40 jobs this year in order to balance its budget, school officials said Tuesday.

The college expects to eliminate most of the positions through attrition and early retirements, but 15 to 20 employees could receive layoff notices.

Students will also pay two per cent more in tuition fees.

Camosun president Kathryn Laurin said the college was facing a $2.5-million shortfall largely because the B.C. government provided no additional money to deal with rising costs over the past three years.

“We’re in an era of flat funding, which means we don’t get any costs to cover inflation,” she said. “That means we’re carving out a couple of million dollars from our budget every year that we have flat funding.”

Laurin said the college tries to offset the deficit by raising money in other areas, but that revenue also dipped.

“We’re at a juncture now where we can no longer preserve and protect all of our program offerings and services,” she said.

The board of governors approved a $104-million balanced budget Monday night, but details of the cuts and the programs affected were withheld until officials had a chance to meet with staff.

The college, which has 900 employees, plans to eliminate 6.6 administrative positions, 22.5 support workers and 17 faculty members.

The job cuts will be partially offset by the addition of 12.6 positions in new areas, such as a medical radiography program that received $3.4 million in start-up money from the provincial government.

Darryl Ainsley, acting president of the Camosun College Faculty Association, said years of government underfunding mean the cuts get deeper each year.

This time, the school’s 18,000 part-time and full-time students will see a loss of services, he said.

“The pressures have been there for a long, long time,” he said. “Whatever cuts you would say don’t hurt as much … have already been made.”

Madeline Keller-MacLeod of the Camosun College Student Society said another tuition hike hurts vulnerable students.

“With every tuition fee increase, school is becoming less accessible,” she said. “[Fees] are already extremely high. There are people that are obviously not going to be able to make it into the education system.”

Keller-MacLeod noted that the situation could be even worse next year. The B.C. government served notice in its February budget that it plans to cut, rather than simply freeze, funding to post-secondary schools.

NDP advanced education critic Michelle Mungall took aim at the Liberal government for undercutting post-secondary institutions at a time when there is a shortage of skilled labour.

“This is the single biggest thing that’s going to determine whether industry invests here or not,” she said. “If they can’t develop projects at a reasonable cost because there’s a skilled labour shortage, they’re not going to come to B.C.”

lkines@timescolonist.com

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