Loss of federal funding, deficit results in changes at Coady International Institute

Coady International Institute Participants and Havre Boucher residents are pictured at the Havre Boucher Community Centre, after participating in an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) exercise.

ANTIGONISH: One-third of staff will be cut from St. Francis Xavier University’s Coady International Institute due in fact to the university not securing federal funding.

The university’s president, Kent MacDonald told The Reporter in a phone interview last Thursday that the Coady has an operating budget of about $7 million, and every five years, a large portion of revenue for the budget needs to be negotiated with the federal government.

Global Affairs Canada provides Coady International Institute $3 million of its $7 million annual budget under a five year contract.

“It came as a real surprise this year when we were notified in the fall that funding would not be provided to [the] Coady,” MacDonald said. “With the federal government not underwriting the Coady to the tune of $3 million, that’s a loss of revenue taking us from $7 million to less than $4 million in terms of the revenue we have available. We cannot operate Coady with such a significant deficit, like that.”

The Coady International Institute has been educating leaders in development from around the world since it was founded in 1959, shortly after the death of Moses Coady. Through its unique, community-based approach, Coady equips citizen leaders to address contemporary global challenges and opportunities.

In a letter addressed to the campus community on January 23, MacDonald advises Coady faculty and staff were informed of planned program and structural changes that will help ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the organization.

He said he has a responsibility to put Coady into a balanced budget position for its own sake in terms of long-term sustainability. To achieve that they had to sit down with Coady representatives to let them know the university needs to find ways to save a significant amount of expenses.

During the meeting with the university’s administration, Coady staff were informed that eight to 10 of the approximately 30 positions would unfortunately be cut.

“These necessary changes will set Coady on a more sustainable path and address the fiscal reality of an operational budget that is nearly half of previous years,” MacDonald said. “These budget changes are due, in part, to the changing nature of available external funding, and a substantial operating deficit that is projected to continue into 2019/20.”

The outcome of the meeting saw the university table an offer to its staff for voluntary separation opportunities for those close to retirement and may have been thinking about other opportunities within the university or elsewhere.

In the event the university cannot accrue the savings of $3 million that they have to find, they’ll have to work with their unions and professional staff group which will result in laying-off employess to make sure the Coady lives within its means.

On top of the lay-offs, he confirmed Coady’s flagship diploma program, Diploma in Developmental Leadership will not be offered for 2019 but the university is looking for opportunities to bring it back in 2020.

“But I think it’s important to go over the fact there is a lot of other activity that will continue,” MacDonald added. “The local work that we’ve been doing in terms of employment and community programming will continue. Coady will continue to do the important work it has done for the past 60-years.”

The impending lay-offs and federal funding cut comes during a time of controversy with the management style at Coady Institute. Last fall former and current employees brought forward their concerns over an alleged toxic work environment and a management style that strayed from the institute’s principles.

On October 2, James Edward Marlow, the former finance director of the Coady was arrested and charged with theft over $5,000 and fraud over $5,000. Marlow was fired from the university on July 19 after being accused of misappropriating approximately $250,000.

MacDonald indicated Global Affairs Canada has shifted the way it identifies their priorities of funding. Their preference is to provide funding for projects and they are not interested in funding programming, which is what Coady does.

“Without the $3 million coming from the federal government at this moment it’s necessary for us to go through the steps we’re going through, unfortunately.”