Lifelong Learning

Restore fairness, service quality and value-for-tax-dollars in community colleges and the Broader Public Service

The recently-ended colleges strike has highlighted a systemic problem in the Broader Public Service, which according to Statistics Canada in 2011 included more than 640,000 Ontario employees in health and social service institutions, universities, vocational and trade institutions and local school boards in addition to community colleges. While wholly or largely taxpayer-funded, these myriad institutions each have their own governance with far less central oversight than the formal public service. Being human, many of the controlling executive teams would come to view themselves as entitled to compensation packages somewhat comparable to the increasingly obscene benefits enjoyed by their C-level counterparts in private-sector corporations and would be motivated to increase their share of their institutions’ limited budget pies. That appears to have played out in at least some community colleges where faculty salaries have remained relatively static and an ever higher proportion of the teaching load has been shifted to poorly-paid contract teachers with no job security. This has enabled the overall pot of executive salaries, benefits and bonuses to rise disproportionately to the point where it is comparable to the budget pot for faculty. Arguably this short-changes the students whose quality of education is the whole reason why we as taxpayers fund the colleges in the first place.

 

My idea is that the next Liberal government conduct a comprehensive audit of the compensation-related budgets of all Broader Public Service institutions to quantify the relative budgetary pots for the executive/managerial versus service delivery components (e.g., faculty, in the case of colleges). The audit should use consistent definitions and publish the results. Based on that data, the government should, for each sector, cap the percentage that institutions may allocate to the executive/managerial component and amend the Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act, 2014 as necessary to give itself the power to freeze that budgetary component in institutions which exceed the cap until such a time as the ratio has been brought back to an acceptable proportion.

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Idea No. 266