Bad decisions by Laurentian University led to financial peril: auditor general

TORONTO — Ontario's auditor general says Laurentian University found itself in a terrible financial situation due to a series of questionable decisions by senior administration.

Bonnie Lysyk says the Sudbury, Ont., university relied too much on external legal and financial advice, which led it to seek creditor protection using a process designed for private-sector organizations.

Laurentian filed for creditor protection in early 2021, citing long-term debts and lower revenue as a result of COVID-19.

Lysyk says the university's leaders made a bad situation worse by declining help from the provincial government and circumventing obligations to work with faculty and staff.

She says those decisions and a succession of oversight failures led to a quick decline in the university's finances, resulting in 341 jobs lost, millions of dollars wasted and the careers of 932 students cut short.

Laurentian University board of governors chair Jeff Bangs says the school must learn from Lysyk's advice and make much-needed changes to ensure the situation never happens again.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2022.

The Canadian Press