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Budget cut layoffs begin at Queen’s

Last Updated on July 3, 2024 by Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Layoffs in the Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) at Queen’s began last week, as the university looks to decrease the operating budget deficit.

Representatives from Queen’s Coalition Against Austerity (QCAA) said that 16 members of the faculty were laid off on June 25, including all educational developers in arts and sciences online and a number of frontline workers.

QCAA says there’s a lot still unknown about the layoffs, highlighting the poor communication they say has been a problem since Queen’s administration announced that cuts were on the horizon.

“That FAS was ill-prepared to communicate publicly about yesterday’s job losses, which have been planned for months, comes as no surprise,” QCAA wrote on their website.

“FAS administrators have run a master class in poor management by failing to take responsibility or provide open and honest information ahead of time about all the things workers should know: the reason for pending layoffs, the concrete number of losses involved, the criteria for selection, and the resources and supports available to those identified for dismissal.”

QCAA says staff still don’t know how their workloads will change in light of the layoffs, and there isn’t believed to be a plan from Queen’s to communicate that with them.

Furthering the lack of communication to faculty, department heads and managers have been instructed not to readily share information with staff members.

QCAA’s post makes reference to an email sent out by Dean of Arts and Sciences Barbara Crow, addressing staff by name who consequently said they thought they were receiving a dismissal email upon opening.

The email was really just informing staff that layoffs were beginning, and that further information was coming, but staff say it seemed to be put together in a hurry and really provided no information despite seemingly having months to prepare.

“The Faculty continues to face a large structural operating budget deficit wherein our expenditures exceed our revenues, and our financial situation remains serious,” the email from Crow reads.

“As a result, today we have taken the difficult step to reduce our workforce further through layoffs.”

On Thursday QCAA says staff received a follow up email from Dean Crow that was less vague, providing some information on different supports and seminars being offered and the restructuring of academic units into hubs.

Overall faculty feel they’ve been largely left in the dark, and don’t feel confident they’ll receive the bulk of the information they are seeking.

“All we’ve been told is that further information will be forthcoming,” one department head said.

“I doubt very much any information will be forthcoming around savings because they’ve just refused to provide that information from the start. Honestly, it’s all been kind of back of the napkin math, as far as the heads in the faculty have seen anyway.”

QCAA estimated that the savings from the round of layoffs last week would be roughly $1.5 million, which they say is not a significant enough amount to justify the negative impact it could have on the school.

On top of the 16 layoffs, 17 members of faculty participated in the university’s Voluntary Exit Incentive, choosing to leave for a lump sum payment.

Faculty add that they do not know how many staff members with term contracts have simply not been renewed.

Staff who spoke to YGK News did so on the condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions from administration at the university.

Queen’s did not initially respond to request for comment.


Queen’s provided the following statement on Tuesday after publication:

“Queen’s continues to face a significant projected operating budget deficit. Throughout the university’s efforts to reduce the deficit we have committed to doing whatever we could to minimize impacts on our people. Whether that was offering the Voluntary Exit Incentive (VEI) in the Faculty of Arts and Science, not filling vacant positions, or moving employees that would likely be impacted by a layoff into vacant necessary roles rather than hiring externally, this has been our focus.

These measures have significantly reduced the number of positions that would be subject to potential layoffs. Still, the Faculty of Arts and Science continues to face a large structural operating budget deficit and our financial situation remains serious. As a result, today we have taken the difficult step to reduce our workforce by 16 positions in the Faculty of Arts and Science. The university will continue to work with impacted employees to identify opportunities for re-employment within the university where that is possible which may further reduce this number. This is in addition to 17 previous voluntary exits as a result of the Voluntary Exit Incentive (VEI) program.”

Queen’s did not confirm the total expected savings from last week’s round of layoffs or the VEI.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttp://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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