Op-Ed

Graph: David Campion-Smith, Illustration: Reine Tejares

U of O raises to upper admin is unacceptable 

A recent lawsuit launched by the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) against the University of Ottawa, regarding some of the pay raises to members of the upper administration has raised concerns about how much those who run our universities are making.

In light of this situation, it’s become clear that a salary cap, to ensure that administrative salaries stay below the president’s, could keep tuition lower for students as well as reduce legally questionable pay raises.

The APUO is taking legal action against the U of O and Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Reza Moridi, because they believe the salary raises of Dr. Mona Nemer, the vice-president of research, and Dr. Jacques Bradwejn, dean of the School of Medicine, violates Ontario’s 2010 Broader Public Sector Accountability Act.

The Act establishes certain limits on the salary and benefits increases available to public sector employees. After March 31, 2012 increases can only happen if employees meet certain government or personal goals, reduce costs or if they’re authorized under a current compensation plan.

While students and part-time professors are counting every penny to make ends meet, tenured profs and administrators are consistently raking in six-figure salaries.

A more substantial freeze on pay rises is in the best interest of both taxpayers and students, who provide the vast majority of funding to the university. Here’s the breakdown of U of O’s preliminary budget for 2015-2016,  that shows the bulk of the university’s funding comes from tuition fees and provincial grants. according to university documents.

WEB_OPI_Salary-Caps_Budget-pie-chart

Students have the right to push for a salary cap because we are a primary source of funding for our university—and our teachers shouldn’t be making unconscionable amounts of money while our tuition fees are being raised every year.

This is a questionable use of such funds, seeing as the U of O has announced its third consecutive financial deficit, and announced its tenth consecutive tuition hike in May.

The idea of a salary cap for public officials has been brought up in the past, most recently by the Ontario NDP who proposed limiting the pay of employees of publicly funded companies to twice the salary of the premier of Ontario. This proposed requirement would have limited salaries to $418,000, but was never actually implemented.

There is an important distinction that must be made when talking about salaries at the university. While some tenured professors and administrators are making large amounts of money, there are other personnel who aren’t making anywhere near as much. Assistant professors, for example, can make a maximum of $107,019 while associate professor salaries stop at $148,432.

Even limiting salaries to below what the president makes is quite generous, since Allan Rock, the president of the U of O, made an average salary of $365,907 from 2008-2014 according to the Ontario Sunshine list. Having this threshold will still allow Ontario universities to remain competitive when trying to attract the best and brightest.

The pay raises that have been given to these two employees aren’t small cost of living increases, these are large raises. Here is the average pay raise for employees of the U of O between 2004-2014, the same time period that saw nine years of tuition increases.

WEB_OPI_Salary-Caps_Average-Raise_David-Campion-Smith

A salary raise in a time of constant tuition increases is insulting to students and taxpayers alike as more and more money goes to paying salaries. Establishing a firm limit of $394,999 on salaries, and instituting a freeze on increases is long overdue, and might even be enough to give us our first year in a decade without a tuition increase.