Kingston’s Queen’s University and other post-secondary institutions across Ontario are trying to move forward after the province announced that it may force some senior professors to work for free.
The Ford government wants to eliminate the practice of senior professors being paid full salaries while also collecting their pensions. Currently, it is legal for professors past the age of 65 to collect their pension and also be paid in full for their teaching.
According to the government, some senior professors can make as much as $150,000 a year, and if they have tenure, there is no age limit on their retirement.
The provincial government wants to implement legislation that would require senior professors to live off their pension if they continue to teach past the age of 71 and essentially teach without being paid their salaries.
“This is a direct attack on collective bargaining,” said Kayll Lake, president of Queen’s University Faculty Association and also a professor at the institution.
“We are not paid by the government and we negotiate not with the government but with our own private institutions.”
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At Queen’s, Lake said only about 20 professors are collecting a salary and a pension at the same time out of a faculty of 800 staff.
According to Lake, fewer than 600 professors across the province collect both because a lot of that money can be lost in taxes.
Overall, Lake feels government officials are stepping into a conversation where they don’t belong.
“These pensions have been built up by the faculty members themselves, and it’s their money, not the government’s money,” Lake said.
The Ontario government says its intention in the change is to attract new talent to the teaching ranks in faculties across Ontario.
An email statement from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities sent to Global News says, in part: “Hiring new full-time faculty has a number of benefits, including opportunities for the introduction of new teaching methods, increased use of digital technologies, more faculty diversity and the ability to re-energize and enhance research.”
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But Lake feels as if this is just another move by the Ford government aimed at hurting educators across the province.
“It’s interesting to note the government is attacking all education, from kindergarten to post-doctoral studies,” said Lake.
Nevertheless, the Queen’s University Faculty Association is currently in the process of creating a new pension plan with the University of Toronto and Guelph, where taking a full salary and pension at the same time will also not be allowed.
That new pension plan is expected to be implemented within a year.