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Province introduce post-secondary executive pay regulations

By Jason Herring, April 10 2018 —

The provincial New Democratic Party announced new regulations for post-secondary executives’ salaries on April 10. According to the Alberta government, the changes aim to bring compensation in the province in line with the national average and are projected to save $5 million annually.

Alberta post-secondary executive salaries are currently among the highest in the country and have come under criticism in the past.

Under the new rules, the presidents of the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta can both earn a minimum salary of $349,800 and a maximum salary of $447,000. Additionally, they will be able to receive up to about 20 per cent of their base salary in benefits. U of C president Elizabeth Cannon currently makes $480,000 in base salary as well as an additional $417,000 in benefits, while U of A president David Turpin has a $500,000 base salary and receives $324,000 in benefits.

“For far too long, the salaries of college and university presidents have been out of step with the public service, the national average and the expectations of Albertans,” Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt said.

The changes will come into effect on April 15 for new and renewing contracts, while existing contracts will have a two-year transition period before they must follow the new regulations.

In a statement, the U of C Board of Governors called the guidelines “a significant change,” stressing the significance of a university president and adding that the board will review how these changes affect the search for Cannon’s replacement.

“The president’s compensation must reflect the duties of leading one of Canada’s major research intensive universities, and the significant value and impact the president brings to our community, our province and our country,” BOG chair Jill Wyatt said. “We will review the new compensation framework to determine how it impacts the terms and conditions for hiring the new president.”

Students at the U of A recently called out Turpin’s salary after the school passed a budget that included cuts to discretionary spending and increases to international student tuition. Turpin and Schmidt entered into a war of words over the issue.

“It’s concerning to me to see the president lining his own pockets while he’s cutting money being spent on classrooms and students,” Schmidt said at the time.

The NDP’s restrictions also eliminate executive bonuses and restrict benefits like golf club memberships and signing bonuses.

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