University of Alberta fires over 60 custodians due to institutional budget cuts

EDMONTON – Over 60 goalies serving the University of Alberta will be out of work this fall.

The university is laying off workers and outsourcing positions to a contractor to generate cost savings as it struggles to balance its books after successive provincial budgets that include cuts to the institution.

Andrew Sharman, vice president (facilities and operations), said in a statement that the outsourcing of positions would not affect cleaning standards.

“We greatly appreciate the service of our on-call staff, both internal and contract – and especially their hard work in keeping the university community safe throughout the pandemic,” Sharman said.

“The University of Alberta recently entered the final phase of a child care outsourcing strategy, which has been underway since 2019 due to institutional budget cuts,” he added.

The university has received $ 170 million in funding cuts from the UCP government since 2019. It undertook a restructuring process last year to consolidate faculties and reduce spending.

“What worries me most about these layoffs is that the university is choosing to fire the most vulnerable community members we have,” said Jillian Pratt, president of the Non-Academic Staff Association. (NASA) at the U of A.

“Those who are women, people of color, new immigrants who earn the least money on campus, while adding several middle management positions at the top. “

Pratt told CTV News Edmonton she never received any documents showing the savings the layoffs would generate and that the university was not following its own outsourcing protocols.

“It really erodes trust with our organization and with our members,” she added.

“When you choose to remove your most vulnerable members, the ones who have kept us safe and healthy after a pandemic, and you say thank you with a pink slip – it’s unreasonable.”

Sharman said the job outsourcing was done following the proper processes.

“We understand the concerns and appreciate the due diligence of NASA representatives on behalf of their members to ensure that the proper outsourcing processes are followed,” said Sharman. “We can confirm that they were in this situation.”

The University of Alberta Students Union (UASU) said in a Facebook post that it was “troubled” by the layoffs.

“Their jobs are contracted out to a cleaning company, and although we are told that affected staff will get job offers with that company, they will have reduced wages and benefits and will not be protected by the (NASA), “UASU said.

“It hurts to see the University actively posting new job opportunities for managers, directors and senior consultants,” the union added.

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