Camosun having ‘pre-layoff’ talks with ESL staff after funding slashed

Saanich post-secondary institution expects to know next week how staffing levels will be impacted

Camosun College will know next week how its staffing will be impacted after the school’s federal ESL funding was cut.

In December 2013, the government announced it would eliminate funding for subsidized English language training for immigrants, including $2.5 million allocated for Camosun, where 13 faculty members are at risk of losing their jobs.

“We’re in the middle of something called a pre-layoff canvas,” said Joan Yates, vice-president of community engagement. She says the school will know how many staff members will face layoffs by next week, as talks are ongoing for staff who may have other employment opportunities or those interested in early retirement.

“Faculty get a period of time to have those discussions … then we get that information,” Yates said. “We anticipate about 13 folks (will be impacted), but that would be a worst-case scenario.”

At any given time, 200 to 300 recent newcomers to Victoria receive English as a second language training at Camosun’s Interurban and Lansdowne campuses, often for free. The college learned in December that $2.5 million allocated for domestic ESL training wouldn’t be renewed come April 1, 2014. The school has informed students of the changes and is now looking at how affected students can transition.

“That’s the big project that’s happening now,” Yates said. “We’re looking at how best to accommodate students.” The school is looking at extending programs or providing pathway opportunities with other institutions.