Red Deer College will make due with fewer employees in order to bring in a balanced budget.
President Joel Ward said Thursday that costs were reduced first through vacancies and retirements, but a handful of layoffs and reductions in hours were required among members of both the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, as well as senior administrators.
“Under law, we have to balance our budget, so we have to do workforce adjustments. But we made our decisions very carefully based on the least impact to students. So no programs were cut, no teaching faculty were laid off,” Ward said.
He said layoffs have been happening over the past four months among the staff of about 1,400, because it was important they be done before the college’s next president takes over in the fall.
“We follow our collective agreements. They get substantial severance as part of their package. We do absolutely everything by the book,” said Ward, who announced his retirement last fall.
Ward said RDC, along with other institutions, is dealing with frozen tuition, declining revenues and increasing expenses, and a provincial government that has delayed announcing its spring budget until October.
The college has not faced such a difficult budget since 2014, when the grant from the provincial government was cut by seven per cent, and now the province is looking at the option of breaking public-sector contracts.
“I think this province, with this new government, is going to have some interesting labour relations challenges,” said Ward.