University of Alberta students, faculty and staff ask the province to rethink budget cuts in light of COVID-19 outbreak

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Staff and students at the University of Alberta warn the provincial government’s deep education cuts threaten not only to hurt post-secondary education, but to strain the university’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

In a letter tabled at the University of Alberta’s Board of Governors’ meeting Thursday, staff and student associations say the cuts — totalling $110 million and passed recently by the provincial government — hit key areas of the institution tasked with responding to COVID-19. Reductions in staff include those in IT, responsible for moving the university to online learning to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and staff charged with cleaning, which has been cut to minimum required standards.

The letter, intended for the Alberta public and the campus community, was signed by the Non-Academic Staff Association, the Postdoctoral Fellows Association, the Students’ Union, the Association of Academic Staff, and the Grad Students Association. It cites the dire reality faced on campus in light of provincial cuts, which represent an 18 per cent reduction in the budget of the university.