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 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

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Graeme Wright is the owner of Hullabaloo, a new ice cream and coffee food truck serving patrons at the Red Barn on West Saanich. (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff).
VIDEO: Cool treats, warm bevvies a specialty for new Saanich food truck

Hullabaloo owner Graeme Wright passionate about blending green space with sustainability

The closure of Government Street to vehicle traffic between Humboldt and Yates streets began June 11. The corridor will be pedestrian-only between noon and 10 p.m. daily until at least this fall. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Downtown Victoria timed closure of Government Street begins

Pedestrian priority times part of city’s Build Back Victoria program

Nicky Cook and Kelly Yee set up their stand at Peninsula Country Market. (Black Press Media file photo)
Peninsula farmers markets ready to welcome back patrons

Both the Peninsula Country Market and North Saanich Farm Market plan to expand offerings in the summer

Workers clean off the red paint sprayed on the statue of Queen Victoria at the front of the B.C. legislature Friday. It is unclear when the vandalism took place. A protest rally against old-growth logging was happening on the legislature lawns Friday afternoon. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
UPDATE: Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue base splattered with what looks to be red paint, old-growth logging protest held in afternoon

t
How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

Most Read