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Chakma Report Prompts Debate at Queen’s Park on Public Sector Salaries

London West New Democrat MPP Peggy Sattler.
London West New Democrat MPP Peggy Sattler. Peggy Sattler

The report on Western University President Dr. Amit Chakma’s double dip salary is a hot topic not only in London, but also at Queen’s Park.

London West NDP MPP Peggy Sattler called on the Ontario Liberal government on Tuesday to reign in salaries for public sector executives.

Monday’s report by retired justice Stephen T. Goudge found Chakma’s double salary for not taking a sabbatical is not in line with other universities.

READ MORE: Western University President’s “Double Dip” Salary Sparks Outrage, Petition

Back in April, Sattler introduced a private members bill to amend the Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act to ban clauses in contracts like the one given to Chakma. On Tuesday, Sattler used the Goudge report to call out the government.

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“This is yet another example of this government’s failure to reign in executive compensation. In the last few months, Ontarians have learned about a $4-million wage package for the CEO of Hydro One, million dollar salaries for CCAC home care contractors, and $5.7-million in bonuses for Pan Am Games executives,” Sattler said. “Will the minister act now to prohibit million dollar salaries in the post-secondary sector by implementing the private members bill I introduced in April?”

Sattler’s private members bill, like the majority of private members bill that are put forward, wasn’t successful.

London North Centre Liberal MPP Deb Matthews, who is also the head of the Treasury Board, responded to Sattler’s call by saying the act provides transparency to Ontarians.

“We on this side believe that the people of Ontario do have a right to know how compensation is structured for the broader public sector. That’s why we introduced the broader public sector executive act; it’s still a mystery to me why the party opposite did not support that bill.”

Chakma’s double dip payment came to light back in March when all salaries for public sector employees were released as part of the Sunshine List.

Matthews says the Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act is doing its job.

“This act enables the government to directly control the compensation of designated senior executives in the broader public sector, by establishing public sector frameworks. That work is underway now, we are taking a thoughtful and balanced approach to it. We are balancing the interests of Ontario taxpayers and the need to properly compensate senior executives in our public sector.”

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The review cost between $70,000 and $80,000, adding to the $100,000 Western spent on external public relations and legal advice during the controversy’s peak.

The chair of Western’s board of governors, Chirag Shah, has said that the board has accepted all of Goudge’s recommendations.