CNA Faculty Letter to Premier Dunderdale_2013 (FINAL) (Click on link to download PDF of letter)

(Text of letter below).


For immediate Release:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Concerned Faculty Outline Compelling Arguments Against Cuts to the College of the North Atlantic in Letter to Premier Dunderdale 

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) has forwarded a letter to Premier Kathy Dunderdale on behalf of concerned faculty at the College of the North Atlantic (CNA).

The letter, authored by concerned CNA Faculty members from across the province, outlines the group’s concerns regarding the cuts to CNA as well as the proposed privatization of the Adult Basic Education Program (ABE).

“The Premier has said on numerous occasions in the House of Assembly and in the media that she is open to reviewing budget cuts and layoffs if ‘compelling arguments’ are formally brought to her attention,” stated NAPE President Carol Furlong. “We firmly believe that this letter from concerned Faculty, employees on the front line of our public post-secondary education system, contains a number of compelling arguments against the cuts to CNA as well as the privatization of ABE. The Premier must stand by her public statements and give this the same attention and consideration that was extended to the arguments made by lawyers and judges in reversing some of the budget cuts in the Justice Department.”

The letter from the concerned CNA Faculty members contains several concerns and counter arguments to government’s rationale for implementing regressive and ill-advised cuts to CNA and the far reaching implications to our education system, our communities and the province as a whole. The letter covers a broad range of issues, including, but not limited to: concerns with the figures being espoused by government in terms of cost-per student and success rates, differences between the private and public college system, accessibility for rural and remote learners, and potential increased costs to government and students.

NAPE is renewing its call for the government to conduct reviews of the cuts in departments and agencies, including CNA, that were affected by budget cuts and layoffs. NAPE is also calling on the government to suspend all remaining layoffs until these reviews are complete.

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Open Letter


The Many Devastating Program Cuts at CNA Campuses Across the Province

Grand Falls-Windsor: Adult Basic Education (ABE), Comprehensive Arts and Science (CAS); Gander: ABE; Corner Brook: ABE, Environmental Technology, Adventure Tourism, Electronics Engineering Technology; Happy Valley-Goose Bay:  ABE, Automotive Service Technician, First Year Engineering Technology (FYET), Office Administration; Ridge Road:  Telecommunications, Software Electronic Engineering Technology, Academic Support Centre; St. Anthony: ABE, FYET; Bonavista: ABE, Office Administration; Bay St. George: ABE, Visual Arts, Hospitality Tourism, Community Studies – changed to alternate year intake; Port Aux Basques:  ABE, CAS; Burin: ABE, CAS, FYET, Business Administration; Placentia: ABE, CAS, Machinist; Seal Cove: ABE, Oil Heat Systems Technician; Labrador West: ABE, FYET; Baie Verte: ABE, Machinist; Carbonear:  ABE, Bricklaying; Clarenville: ABE, FYET; Prince Phillip Drive: ABE, Auto Body (one section), Nutrition and Food Service Management.

Compelling Arguments for the Reversal of Government Cuts to College of the North Atlantic (CNA) 

April 25, 2013

Dear Honourable Premier Dunderdale:

We, concerned faculty of the College of the North Atlantic, have grave concerns about the recent cuts to the College of the North Atlantic and the detrimental impact that they will have on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We respectfully urge you to consider the following arguments. We feel confident that you and your government will have a new perspective on the true costs of the cuts to the College of the North Atlantic after reviewing the concerns and arguments outlined below.

Cuts to Adult Basic Education (ABE) 

As front line workers in our province’s public, post-secondary system, we firmly believe these cuts will result in drastic changes to the province’s college system with serious financial and social costs to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Problems with the Government’s Numbers and Arguments

The provincial government’s decision to privatize ABE hinges entirely on ‘sound bite’ cost-per-student figures and success rates. To-date, no research regarding these issues has been made public.  Differences between the clientele served by CNA versus private colleges have not been highlighted, nor have differences in the availability and quality of services at CNA versus private colleges.

Our concerns and arguments related to this matter are as follows:


1.        Cost-Per-Student Figures:

The source for these figures has not been revealed and their accuracy and relevancy are highly questionable. We have serious concerns related to the calculation and use of government’s cost-per-student-figures:

  1.  Any per-student cost differences between CNA and private colleges at the present time are irrelevant because of key cost-related differences between the clientele and the services available at these colleges (see sections Differences in Clientele and Differences in Services).
  2. The expansion of the private system to provide service to the majority of ABE students in this province will undoubtedly cause the per-student costs at private colleges to increase.
  3. If per-student costs rise following the privatization of ABE, it is likely that the following will occur:

i.    The cost of ABE tuition fees at private colleges will increase;

ii.    The government will be forced to put a cap on per-student funding for ABE and risk having private colleges operate at a deficit, drop delivery of ABE, or go bankrupt.


2.     Success Rate Figures: 

The methods by which success rates were calculated have also not been made public by your government. We are certain that the government’s numbers do not have any real validity and are not, therefore, representative of the relative effectiveness of ABE at CNA versus private colleges.

We have serious doubts that the individual circumstances of students were considered in the calculation of success rates.

  1. Many CNA ABE learners transfer their credits earned back to high school and graduate with a high school diploma rather than an ABE diploma.  We suspect that government’s figures do not count these students as successes;
  2. Some CNA ABE students have already graduated from high school.  Students in this category complete select courses in order to meet entrance requirements of post-secondary training programs.  These students do not receive an ABE diploma.  We suspect that government’s figures do not count these students as successes;
  3. ABE is a continuous entry program.  Credits earned are not lost when a student leaves the program.  Students who leave for personal or work reasons should not be considered as failures since they may return at any time and resume study at the point where they left off;
  4. Every ABE student has a different starting point, and completion of the ABE program is not always a realistic goal for every student.  The skills students learn while attending ABE are highly valuable to them as working adults.   Students who reach their learning ceiling, and yet fail to earn a diploma, are successes. They should not be considered as failures in government’s figures.


3.     Differences in Clientele:

We are concerned that differences in clientele are not being considered when comparisons are made between CNA and private colleges.

  1. Tuition rates impact the type of clientele that attend each ABE provider.  Private colleges charge as much as $3080 per semester, while at CNA tuition is only $726 per semester. The high tuition rates at private colleges are prohibitively high to students who pay out of pocket.  Private colleges depend heavily on Employment Insurance (EI) clients for their business.  All EI-sponsored ABE learners have work experience.
  2. The Advanced Education and Skills (AES) department requires ABE learners who receive provincial income support to attend CNA.  Retention issues and learning obstacles for this sector of learners are often related  to one or more of the following:

i.    Little or no work experience;

ii.    Learning disabilities;

iii.    Few or no high school credits;

iv.    Mental illness or addictions.

  1. At-risk students often require the types of additional services that are only available at CNA.


4.    Differences in Services:

We are concerned that differences in the availability and quality of services are not being considered when comparisons are made between CNA and private colleges.

  1. CNA continually strives to improve services and supports in order to help students overcome potential learning obstacles including physical disabilities, learning disabilities, mental illnesses, and the culture and language barriers faced by new Canadians;
  2. CNA currently serves many rural regions of Newfoundland and Labrador where private colleges do not operate;
  3. CNA campuses also house many personnel and infrastructure supports for students which are of great benefit, particularly to ABE learners, including: disability services such as assistive technology and resource facilitators, guidance counsellors, laboratories, student development officers, and libraries, to name a few. These support mechanisms do not, by and large, exist in the private system.

Learners who live in rural regions and/or require specialized services are in danger of falling through the cracks as a result of a rushed move to privatization. ABE learners who have finally found success and confidence at CNA are devastated by the whirl-wind of change and uncertainty that they are faced with today.

Significant Risks/Costs Underscore the Need for a Plan

CNA has the infrastructure, the equipment, and the expertise needed to train workers that are desperately needed in our white-hot economy. Many valuable assets to our province will be lost if budget cuts are not reversed. Your government has invested in our public college system over the past ten years. This progressive work, which has paid huge dividends for this province, will be severely damaged if you proceed with these cuts.

Although enrollment in some programs has been low in recent years, demand for graduates from these programs is now beginning to grow.  We believe it is a mistake to remove these programs at a time when our province’s economy is entering a state of rapid growth. There needs to be an emphasis on increasing enrollment in these programs in order to provide the skilled workers needed to meet the growing demand. The solution, we argue, is not to simply cut these programs as a short term solution to budgetary concerns. This course of action will certainly have numerous negative, long term socio-economic impacts on the people of this province.

To act, as seems to be the case in this situation, without clear data, without a clear plan, and without public consultation at each step, will put the province in danger of serious financial, social, and human capital costs.

The government has announced that they are planning a comprehensive review of the College of the North Atlantic and its services in the next few months. We assert that any cuts made before this review is conducted are premature and ill-advised.

We respectfully urge you, Honourable Premier, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, to reverse the drastic cuts to the province’s public college system. Our province is at a crucial crossroads. With a looming skilled worker shortage and the need for an educated workforce at an all time high, it is vital that your government make investment in our public college system a priority!


Concerned Faculty of the College of the North Atlantic