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Giant pay raises for college presidents may be blocked

Some of the colleges choose comparators 10 times their own size
Canadore College in North Bay

Huge wage hikes for Ontario's college presidents may not happen after public outrage prompted the government to take a second look.

See: Canadore Prez and VPs in line for hefty windfall pay raise

As BayToday reported earlier this month, Canadore President George Burton could have seen his salary rise to $325,000, an increase of around 50 per cent. Canadore VP's would see their salaries rise to $221,000 or just under 28 per cent.

The province's college boards of governors were basically caught with their hands in the public cookie jar.

Ontario's colleges were told to seek public input but little effort was made to inform the public of the proposed changes, and the time frame for input was during the holiday period from mid-December until mid-January.

Canadore's Board Chair Nancy Partridge did not return BayToday's call at that time seeking an explanation.

But today the government said it is ordering colleges to pull back on the proposed salary hikes.

Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews said the proposed raises are based on unfair comparisons. She said some comparisons were made to running larger, more complex organizations.

At a news conference at Queen's Park today, Matthews told reporters,"Quite frankly, having some of the colleges choose comparators 10 times their own size is not in the spirit of the legislation as it was intended and it's not in the spirit of what we are trying to achieve as we move toward a balanced budget."

“Ontario’s colleges receive the lowest per-student funding of any province,” said RM Kennedy, chair of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)’s College Academic Division. “College presidents should be carefully allocating the limited funds they have, but with these proposals the opposite seems to be true. Instead of putting money on the front lines, where it can do the most good for students, they seem to be trying to funnel as much as possible into their own pockets.”

In a news release, OPSEU said, "In many cases, the comparator groups are completely unrealistic.

"It is clear that some colleges borrowed from templates produced for larger colleges. For example, 16 colleges all listed exactly the grouping of Conestoga, Humber, Seneca, and Sheridan as their comparators. This aspirational group included colleges as small as Northern, Boréal, Canadore, and Lambton. To put this in perspective, Conestoga’s student population is nearly 10 times that of Northern’s."

Matthews ordered the boards of all of Ontario's colleges to revise the proposals for executive compensation.

It's not just colleges, hospital CEOs and University presidents were also in line for big increases.  

According to the Sunshine List, in 2015 Nipissing President Mike DeGagne was paid $287,215. The three VP's make between $215,833 and $247,075.

Hospital president Paul Heinrich was paid a base salary of $318,975 in 2015. The three VP's took home$183,440. Performance bonuses were on top.

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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