SAIT layoffs just ahead of school year decried

The main SAIT campus in Calgary on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020.

The temporary layoff of six support staff at SAIT just as the fall semester looms is an ill-timed decision, says the province’s largest public sector union.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) also said the dismissal of its six members, mostly in the Office of Hospitality Tourism, is the result of a continued assault on post-secondary education by the UCP government and wasteful inequality.

“Between (Alberta Premier Jason) Kenney handing over billions of dollars in tax cuts to rich corporations and SAIT’s CEO, Dr. David Ross, raking in over $495,000 in 2019 alone, the people at the top are leaving crumbs for everyday Albertans,” says AUPE Vice-President Bobby-Joe Borodey.

She said the latest layoffs are on top of

230 pink slips announced at SAIT last February

that officials with the post-secondary institution resulted from the provincial government’s budget cutbacks.

That included 80 vacancies that wouldn’t be replaced.

In its fiscal update on Thursday the government predicted a $24.2 billion deficit for 2020-2021 and said it has no choice but to cut back spending to control that and a looming $99.6 billion accumulated debt.

In its budget last October, the UCP government said it would cut funding to those institutions by 12.5 per cent over four years.

That was quickly followed by an announcement by the University of Calgary of 250 job eliminations and 25 job losses or unfilled positions at Mount Royal University.

The latest layoffs at SAIT are the result of budget and COVID-19 impacts, said spokeswoman Susan Mainella.

“Layoffs are occurring in areas where work has reduced, in some cases where classes have been deferred. The intention is for employees to return when work resumes,” she said.

Borodey called the layoffs that have affected post-secondary institutions across the province short-sighted neglect of the province’s intellectual future and promised stepped-up resistance to it.

“We’re not going to let these temporary cuts become permanent scars. Our campuses are the heart of our communities. They produce critical thinkers and expand our political and cultural scope,” she said.

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