Transferring operating funds to capital budget while projecting deficits and threatening cutbacks.
London (26 March 2009) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is protesting a decision by Fanshawe College to move operating funds into its capital budget when it is projecting a $6.5 million operating shortfall and warning of cutbacks.
OPSEU Local 110, which represents 650 full-time and part-time faculty members, including teachers, counsellors and librarians, says the practice is occurring even though the province is giving the college money for capital projects — including new buildings and facilities.
Paddy Musson, president of the local, says the transfer was uncovered through access to information. Documents show a capital budget of $6 million.
The college has acknowledged moving money between the operating and capital budgets but says the amount was only $600,000 — even though the capital fund contained $6 million as of the end of last June.
Musson calls the projected $6.5 million shortfall at the college a "manufactured crisis" given the size of the capital fund. However, she also argues that any transfer from the operating budget is irresponsible in light of the difficult economic times facing colleges and the province as a whole.
During the early 1990s, when the college faced an earlier financial crisis, full-time staff numbers were chopped almost in half.
The college has not said whether layoffs will be made this time. Bernice Hull, vice-president of administration, has said the college will make "every effort" to minimize the impact on staff.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE