Concordia institutes Voluntary Departure plan to cope with budget cuts

$29 million in total cuts by the end of this fiscal year forces Concordia to snip where it can.

Concordia University announced on Sept. 24 that it will be instituting a Voluntary Departure Plan for staff in continuing efforts to adjust to government instructions mandating $13 million in budget compressions for the current fiscal year.

The program, unveiled after  internal consultation on ways to meet a shrinking budget, will see mostly administrative staff given the option of leaving before contract expiry in exchange for severance packages, said to total about a year’s worth of pay for staff who have been working at the school over 10 years. Faculty members such as professors or other positions like librarians won’t be included in the plan.

The expected cost of the severance packages will help deal with the deficit to be overcome by saving the university up to $5 million this year, and may save up to $12 million on a permanent basis from the 2015-2016 fiscal year onwards. Concordia says it expects anywhere from 150 to 180 individuals to take the offer in a lengthy ‘rebalancing’ that would last several months to sort out.

Ultimately the amount of staff that will leave are unknown and it may very well be less than predicted, though Concordia President Alan Shepard said previous schools who’ve instituted the initiative have equally met greater-than-expected demand. Either way, he stressed the completely voluntary nature of the plan and how it was made with care in mind for the loyalty of university staff.

Other measures will be taken in addition to the Voluntary Departure Program in response to the government’s compression of the budget. For one, there would be delays in upgrading equipment like computers, but Shepard said there would be no cuts in student bursaries, scholarships, or research.

Shepard also admitted several important positions might go empty under such circumstances, but that the university would do its best to adapt.

“It’s hard to change the tire of the car when the car is running,” he said of the difficulties in changing a large entity like a university.

“We’re trying in a most respectful way to respond to the restraints given,” said Shepard on the difficult financial climate Concordia and other education institutions are facing.


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