NORTHWEST COMMUNITY College will be issuing layoff notices by the end of February, a move made necessary to cut a deficit estimated to be between $1.6 million and $2 million.
Speaking last week, college president Denise Henning said the layoff sequence will follow requirements set out in the collective agreements covering its unionized employees. And she said cuts will include the college’s managers.
Henning added that no decisions have been made as to what programs may be cut or if the cuts include closing any of the college’s campuses across the region.
Still, she warned that job reductions will be significant. “We’ve literally cut to the bone [but] we are not sustainable,” said Henning of cuts that have already been made. “Everybody has been giving until it hurts.”
She said layoffs are the only option left for the college if it is to continue operating.
“If we are to have a sustainable and vibrant institution, we have to move forward. You make the cuts you need,” said Henning.
As it is, the estimated deficit – which is the gap between revenues and expenditures – of between $1.6 million and $2 million represents about 10-11 per cent of the college’s current spending plan.
With wages and benefits taking up 86 per cent of the college’s budget, job losses were inevitable.
The deficit has been growing since the college’s 2009-2010 financial year when it was $719,000. It was $1.156 million at the end of the college’s 2010-2011 financial year and has been growing despite cuts already in place.
The province hasn’t increased the core grant it provides the college in years and has even cut some areas, said Henning.
“Maintenance was once $800,000 and it is now $200,000,” she noted.
A major contributing factor has been a fall off of projected revenues from services such as the college bookstore, cafeteria and in programs financed by students or supported by other public sector agencies or private companies.
Combined, those revenue sources were expected to make up as much as 30 per cent of the college’s budget.
“But that hasn’t happened,” explained Henning.
The college has also been asking its employees for cost-savings suggestions and some ideas are being actively pursued.