Clarification on job losses

Bill Flanagan - 02 October 2020

As was clear from Wednesday’s town hall, there is understandably a high level of concern about job losses at the University of Alberta. It is important that we provide as much clarity as possible about what we know and can anticipate will happen over the coming two years.

As a result of government funding reductions in 2019/20 and 2020/21, in March the University of Alberta announced that at least 1000 full time equivalent continuing positions would have to be lost through layoffs, attrition, and retirements. At fiscal year end on March 31, 2020, approximately 400 of these 1000 positions had been cut. Since then, layoffs have continued, and through this year and next, we will need to continue to reduce our workforce by approximately 650 full-time equivalent continuing positions. Consistent with our projection in March, we still expect the total job loss will be in the range of 1050-1100 jobs.

Approximate position reductions
Fiscal Year Approximate position reductions (full-time continuing)
2019/20 400
2020/21 325
2021/22 325
Total 1050

This is a major loss of people, skills and talent. Teams across the U of A are dealing with the loss of valued colleagues and changing workloads. This is an enormously challenging time for all of us, particularly for those directly affected by job loss. But we cannot simply reduce positions and shift even greater workloads onto fewer people. So we have launched U of A for Tomorrow to restructure both academic and administrative operations so that we can sustain our ability to deliver our core mission of excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement.

The goal of both academic restructuring and SET (Service Excellence Transformation) is to help us to restructure our administrative functions so that we can continue to provide high quality services with fewer staff. Without restructuring, we would indeed be imposing an unsustainable burden on the remaining staff, to do the same amount of work previously done with 1000 more people. But it is important that we clarify that academic restructuring and SET will not result in any additional layoffs beyond the estimated 1050-1100 job loss already announced due to the funding cuts. 

This will not be an easy process and the loss we feel is real. There is also some uncertainty as to future roles and responsibilities as we continue to develop the new models for restructuring our administrative services. However, I want to provide what certainty I can today and want to assure all members of staff that we will work with all of the university community as we redesign the operating model of the university to ensure the long-term well-being of the U of A.


Bill Flanagan
President and Vice-Chancellor