Post secondary compensation comes under fire

VANCOUVER – There are more questions being raised today as to how much university executives are being paid in B.C. and whether or not rules on compensation caps and salary freezes are being met.

The New Democrats came out with a report on Monday looking at the caps and comparing it to compensation reports made by three teaching universities to government.

“The total over payment, over three years, among the three schools, is almost 1.1 million dollars,” said David Eby, NDP’s advanced education critic. “The largest over payment for someone who does not appear to have retired or been fired during the period is $123,000.”

After discovering the gaps the NDP demanded answers from the Public Sector Employers’ Council, the watchdog for enforcing compensation rules.

They also wanted caps for every university and college in B.C. but got no answer.

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The NDP says the public is also being denied the information after one graduate from Capilano University inquired after cuts to key arts programs were made.

“It seemed like there was quite a variation from what people were being paid per institution and basically they weren’t going to tell me over the phone what the caps actually were,” said Jennifer O’Keefe, Capilano University graduate.

The findings come after it was revealed Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk failed to properly disclose $50,000 in bonuses to an executive at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. At the time, Virk was a board member.

In a statement to Global News, Virk said:

“The critic is wrong as he is confusing salary ranges for executives with total compensation caps for presidents of public post-secondary institutions.

“The critic’s misinterpretation is intended to make it appear that these individuals are being paid outside the compensation they should be paid.

“Total compensation for presidents is capped, and includes base salary, benefits and pension. Amounts can fluctuate year to year due to increases in benefit and pension costs beyond the employer’s control, and one-time payments such as unused vacation payouts.

“Vice-presidents, and all other excluded employees, have a salary range approved by Public Sector Employers’ Council that does not include additional benefits and pension, which can account for approximately 20%. As with presidents, these amounts can vary year to year due to increases in items beyond the employer’s control.

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“A number of measures are in place to ensure executive compensation guidelines are met and that compensation is fully disclosed.

“Public post-secondary board chairs have provided signed attestations verifying that compensation has been paid within an approved plan and disclosed according to the guidelines.”

The NDP is calling on the Auditor General to take a closer look at the numbers.