NDP ‘wrong’ on university pay cap claims: Virk

Top salaries at Capilano, UFV, VIU exceed government limit, Opposition says

Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk is under fire again over pay cap violations at B.C. universities.

Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk says the NDP is wrong in its claims that more B.C. universities have paid senior executives more than permitted under salary caps set by the provincial government.

The NDP obtained salary cap details for three universities – Capilano University, the University of the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island University – and said reported compensation paid to 14 executives at the schools exceeded their caps by a total of more than $1.1 million over three years.

Financial disclosures show the three universities paid their presidents between $230,000 and $245,000 in the last year – more in each case than their $225,000 caps, according to the NDP.

“What is the point in having caps in the first place if they’re basically meaningless and you’re not going to enforce them?” asked NDP advanced education critic David Eby.

The Public Sector Employers Council, which enforces the policy, has since refused to disclose pay caps for other B.C. post-secondary institutions, prompting the Opposition to accuse Virk of covering up further violations in the wake of a recent probe of overpayments at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

But in a statement emailed by his office, Virk said the caps on presidents’ total compensation do not apply to other senior post-secondary executives, who are instead subject to a salary range approved by PSEC.

Those ranges don’t include additional benefits and pension, which he said the NDP mistakenly counted in its calculations, adding about 20 per cent.

Virk also said total compensation for presidents can fluctuate year to year due to higher benefit and pension costs beyond the employer’s control, and due to one-time payments such as unused vacation payouts.

“The critic’s misinterpretation is intended to make it appear that these individuals are being paid outside the compensation they should be paid,” he said.

Virk said institution board chairs have given signed confirmations that that executive compensation was paid out in line with approved plans.

Virk previously faced calls to resign for his role before being elected MLA as a director on the board of Kwantlen, where an investigation found extra $50,000 signing bonuses under the guise of consulting fees were made to the president and vice-president to circumvent their pay caps.

Virk has admitted he erred in agreeing to the payments in 2010-12, saying he wasn’t properly informed of the rules.

Virk told Eby in a May 27 letter that the precise caps on public sector pay aren’t made public so they don’t become a negotiating floor on salary when governing boards are in talks to hire new executives.

Eby said continued secrecy around pay caps gives the appearance of a minister unwilling to properly enforce rules that he himself has broken.

He said the situation is a mess because some schools have observed the caps, Kwantlen sought to hide extra payments and others “blatantly” spent more.

Just Posted

Drunk driver charged after early morning crash in Saanich

Power expected to be out for hours in Mayfair Drive area

Plastic bags to be banned in Saanich by June 2020

Council approved the timeline that clears a path for Saanich to follow Victoria’s ban of single-use plastic bags

Final push to fund new ultrasounds at Victoria hospitals

Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s Beneath the Surface campaign nears goal of $500,000

Lower Mainland activists to hold anti-SOGI rally at B.C. legislature

Online resource designed to incorporate diversity is a ‘totalitarian assault on the minds of our children,’ activists say

Rainbow crosswalk, safer places for LGBTQ people in Sidney

A rainbow crosswalk is coming to Sidney near Beacon Park. The crosswalk… Continue reading

B.C. tent city ‘devastated’ after flash flood

Maple Ridge mayor says that residents shouldn’t have to return to their flooded tents

Syrian family can, finally, feel safe after settling in B.C.

Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity White Rock meets sponsored family for the first time

1st private moon flight passenger to invite creative guests

The Big Falcon Rocket is scheduled to make the trip in 2023, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced at an event Monday at its headquarters near Los Angeles.

‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Mrs. Maisel’ triumph at Emmys

In a ceremony that started out congratulating TV academy voters for the most historically diverse field of nominees yet, the early awards all went solely to whites.

Korean leaders meet in Pyongyang for potentially tough talks

South Korean President Moon Jae-in began his third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday.

Russia blames Israel for plane shot down by Syrian missile

A Russian reconnaissance aircraft was brought down over the Mediterranean Sea as it was returning to its home base inside Syria, killing all 15 people on board.

Vancouver park board passes motion to learn Indigenous place names

The name of Vancouver’s Stanley Park is now up for debate as the city’s park board confronts its colonial past and pursues reconciliation.

Champ golfer from Spain killed in Iowa; suspect charged

Police said Celia Barquin Arozamena was found dead Monday morning at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, about 30 miles north of Des Moines.

Abdelrazik torture lawsuit delay would be unconscionable: lawyer

The federal government is making a last-minute plea to delay the Federal Court hearing

Most Read