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'Hope and optimism' a year after Laurentian University exited from CCAA protection

Former faculty share thoughts on Sudbury post-secondary institution as it begins to stand on its own feet again

Terminated by Laurentian University in 2021 as part of the university’s insolvency restructuring, professor emeritus of physics Eduardo Galiano-Riveros is calling on LU for a formal apology for what happened.

A year ago, on Nov. 28, 2022, Laurentian University exited insolvency under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (or CCAA) after 22 months.

While the university’s leadership has changed since LU entered creditor protection in early 2021, Galiano-Riveros wants an apology on Laurentian’s behalf from the current team, given the “destruction” of fellow professors’ careers and the disruption to students’ studies.

He asks that this happen “sooner rather than later — in other words, when it makes the most sense — come out with a formal apology for what you did to our colleagues.” reached out to Laurentian University this week on the topic of a possible apology, but had not received a response to our query as of this article’s publication.

Galiano-Riveros is the spokesperson for the Terminated Faculty Committee, a subset of the more than 100 professors fired by LU during the insolvency.

The group has made other past demands, including asking for a public inquiry into LU’s insolvency, getting their jobs reinstated and being paid full severance.

Galiano-Riveros said he’s going to rule out the “pipe dream” of getting full severance, unless the government funds it, as well as the full reinstatement of the positions that were lost.

He said he has “mixed emotions” on the one-year anniversary of the insolvency exit. 

The anniversary means creditors — including fired Laurentian employees such as himself still owed severance — are one year closer to receiving payouts. The deadline for creditors to be paid what they’re owed by Laurentian is Nov. 28, 2025.

“On the other hand, I am sad to report that we have yet to see a dime of that severance, which already as a result of the CCAA proceedings was cut by about 80 per cent or so,” he said.

He said “we shall see whether Laurentian actually this time follows through on what the court mandates it to do,” he said. “I personally have no reason to trust these people.” 

Galiano-Riveros said he has been more fortunate than most in his position. He was offered a contract as a physics professor at McMaster University, but decided to retire after working there for a year.

“I am in touch with some of our colleagues, or former colleagues, and some have not been able to find gainful employment in academia,” Galiano-Riveros said. “Particularly hard hit were those in the arts, the humanities.”

Laurentian has two more years to pay creditors

Laurentian’s journey under the CCAA, which Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk said LU never needed to enter in the first place, included mass layoffs and program cancellations, the severing of ties with federated universities operating on campus (resulting in even more layoffs and program cancellations) and a plan of arrangement that will see creditors receive only roughly 14 to 24 per cent of what they’re owed.

The federal government has recently stated its intention to prevent this kind of situation from happening ever again. 

It plans to ban post-secondary schools from becoming subject to proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

The deadline for Laurentian creditors to be paid is the third anniversary of the plan of arrangement implementation date, so on Nov. 28, 2025.

Laurentian has already paid out $5.9 million to certain types of creditors (secured creditors and those owed vacation pay). But a year after Laurentian’s insolvency exit, most creditors haven’t received their money.

A pool of cash of up to $53.5-million for Laurentian’s creditors is to come from the sale of university real estate to the province of Ontario, which will be rented, in some cases, back to LU. 

The minimum floor for the pool of cash has been set at $45.5 million. If Laurentian doesn’t fund the creditors’ distribution pool to at least that amount by Nov. 28, 2025, the university will have defaulted.

The land sales to the province were originally supposed to be completed within four years of Laurentian’s CCAA exit, but that was pushed up to three before creditors voted on the plan of arrangement last year.

While some information was provided by Laurentian last spring as to what properties the province is purchasing — confirming the campus greenspace won’t be included — that deal hasn’t been completed.

Laurentian University interim president Sheila Embleton speaks before a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce luncheon audience Sept. 26, 2023. Heidi Ulrichsen /

Laurentian president has no updates on land sales

Earlier this month, asked interim Laurentian University president Sheila Embleton about the impending one-year anniversary and the situation with LU’s creditors.

She said she has no updates as to when payouts to creditors might happen, other than reiterating the Nov. 28, 2025 deadline.

In terms of the sales of LU lands to the province, Embleton said it’s “like watching paint dry.”

“I mean, seriously, there's nothing to report at this point,” she said. “The parties continue to discuss what it is with the lawyers basically, at this point, on both sides, and the people from the ministry have been on campus, doing their due diligence.”

She said she understands creditors are impatient to receive their payouts. “I mean, who wouldn’t be, right?” Embleton said. “But apparently this is how long it takes.”

Embleton, who began her term as interim president Jan. 1 of this year, wasn’t at Laurentian during its insolvency or when it exited the CCAA last year. 

She said she’s heard from people who were there last year about the “exhausted euphoria” of finally being out of creditor protection.

“Yes, it's obviously a milestone,” she said. “But thinking about what all we've done in that time to start moving forward and upward, there's a lot that's happened in that year.”

‘Hope and optimism for the future’

A letter issued Nov. 27 by Embleton and Laurentian board of governors chair Vern Cameron in light of the one-year anniversary of the insolvency exit highlighted some of what has happened at LU in that year. will publish this letter in its entirety on our site.

In the past year, Laurentian has made some progress on a couple of its legal obligations under the plan of arrangement, including the development and approval of an operational transformation plan and a 2024-2029 strategic plan, which has now been drafted.

“We’ve also celebrated great moments together, including faculty achievements, student successes, and a very popular Open House earlier this month,” the letter said. “We have also been happy to witness significant cultural events that make up the fabric of Laurentian University, including the raising of the Franco-Ontarian flag, events recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as well as the launch of the Biodiversity Reclamation Trail featuring Anishinaabemowin plant names.”

The letter highlighted “a 19 per cent increase in the number of incoming students this fall term 2023, thanks in part to our efforts in recruiting more international students which now brings us in alignment with the Ontario university sector average.”

Embleton also mentioned in her interview with the hiring of more staff, faculty and senior leadership to replace some of those lost during the CCAA. 

That includes her own replacement, as it was revealed recently that a new permanent Laurentian president could be hired to take the helm very soon.

“We appreciate that this year has not been without its challenges,” said the letter from Embleton and Cameron. “Even exhausting at times. But we have faced those challenges together, head-on, guided by a shared sense of hope and optimism for the future.”

‘There’s more optimism’: Faculty association president 

Laurentian University Faculty Association president Fabrice Colin said everyone wishes that the creditors could have been paid out by now. 

But “when we ask, and that’s happened on multiple occasions during board meetings, they are not envisioning or contemplating that would be done in advance of the deadline, which is Nov. 28, 2025.”

He said he has mixed feelings about the one-year anniversary of LU’s exit from insolvency.

“It's great to be out of the CCAA to start rebuilding,” he said, adding that he’s especially pleased to see the hiring of more faculty members over the past year, as many LU profs quit on top of those who were terminated.

“And indeed, there’s more optimism. Now we are hoping we will see more transparency, more collegial governance, more collaboration. There's changes going on with the strategic plan and with the transformation plan.

“But on the other end, we cannot forget all the sacrifices made by the faculty members, students and employees, especially terminated faculty members and employees.” 

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.