Public consultation on the University of Ottawa Executive Compensation Program

Context

In 2010, the Ontario government brought into effect the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010 to strengthen accountability and create a more transparent process across the public service. 

Consequently, at the University of Ottawa, the salaries of senior executives (president and vice-presidents) have been frozen since 2010. 

The Ontario government enacted the Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act, 2014, and subsequently established the Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Framework, on September 6, 2016.

This regulation requires designated employers, including universities, to establish a compensation program for their senior executives that includes the conditions to unfreeze salaries and set salary caps and defines criteria for choosing comparable organizations. The University used the Group of Canadian Research Universities (U15) as a basis for selecting its comparator organizations.  The U15 represents 15 of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities, including the University of Ottawa. The University selected 10 universities as comparator organizations from the U15 due to similarity in size, research intensity, international scope, breadth of faculties and executive responsibilities.  

The University has adopted a compensation program that will allow it to:

  • Attract, motivate and retain high-calibre leaders that would ensure the University is an employer of choice and one of the top five research universities in Canada
  • Reach its strategic goals related to the student experience, internationalization, bilingualism and research excellence
  • Further its academic mission of making the University of Ottawa one of the great universities of our time, with a reputation to match its achievements
  • Establish and maintain competitive overall compensation levels while taking into account the University’s ability to pay

The Executive Committee of the Board of Governors oversaw the preparation of a draft compensation program for senior executives (president and vice-presidents). In developing its program, the University of Ottawa has met all the conditions set out in the government's regulatory framework. The government accepted the draft and, under the provincial regulation, the University must now hold a public consultation for at least 30 days on this draft program from February 3 to March 2, 2018. Subsequently, the University must resubmit the program, along with the comments received, to the Ontario government for approval. It is important to specify that the Executive Committee has not taken any decision concerning a possible salary increase for senior executives (president and vice-presidents) and any decisions to this effect would have effect only on July 1, 2018.

We invite you to consult the University of Ottawa Executive Compensation Program document and email us your comments at compensationframework@uOttawa.ca.

Comments will be published once the public consultation has been completed. 

We thank you very much for the time and attention you devote to participating in this consultation process.

Associate Vice-President, Human Resources

Elvio Buono

Frequently asked questions

When was the last time the University’s president and vice-presidents received a pay increase?

In 2010, the Ontario government brought into effect the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010 to strengthen accountability and create a more transparent process across the public service. On March 31, 2012, changes were made to the Act imposing restrictions on executive compensation.

At the University of Ottawa, the salaries of senior executives (president and vice-presidents) have been frozen since 2010. The following salary changes were also implemented:

  • Complete salary freeze for non-academic senior administrators.
  • Increase to base salary only for academic senior administrators, deans and academic associate vice-presidents with professorial status, such as provided for in the collective agreement for professors (Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa, APUO). Freeze on administrative supplements for professors with administrative responsibilities (this freeze has also been implemented by a number of other Ontario universities).

 

What are the new rules related to executive compensation?

In March 2015, the Ontario government enacted the Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act in order to manage executive compensation in the broader public service. Under this legislation, the government is authorized to establish compensation frameworks for designated employers and designated executives. Universities are covered under this legislation.

The 2014 Act led to the Executive Compensation Framework, which was enacted on September 6, 2016.

This new framework imposes salary caps and defines criteria for choosing comparators.

The framework sets out certain requirements, including:

  • Salary and merit-based compensation, if applicable,* is capped at the 50th percentile of appropriate comparators
  • Certain elements, like signing bonuses, retention bonuses and pay in lieu of perquisites, are prohibited
  • Designated executives cannot be given indirect compensation that is not also given to their non-executive managers
  • Public consultations must be held by the employer when setting compensation programs for executives

* The University of Ottawa currently does not have any merit-based compensation programs.

 

What does this mean for the University of Ottawa?

Under the Ontario legislation, the University of Ottawa must develop a compensation program for its executives and hold a public consultation for at least 30 days on the draft program. The University would like to receive feedback on the program not only in order to comply with its legal obligations but also to ensure transparency and sound and prudent management of public funds.

To accomplish this, the Board of Governors’ Executive Committee created a working group that would develop the draft compensation program, present it to the Executive Committee and then hold a public consultation.

 

How did the University decide which universities it would use for comparison?

The working group drew on a database of comparators made available by the Council of Ontario Universities to all its members at the end of March 2017.

Comparable organizations were chosen based on their similarity to the University of Ottawa with respect to:

  • Scope of responsibilities of the organization’s executives
  • Type of operations in which the organization is engaged
  • Industries in which the organization competes for executive talent
  • Size of the organization
  • Location of the organization

The University selected comparators in the Canadian university sector and excluded Crown corporations and hospitals. The University also decided to exclude international comparators because they are mainly American universities, which could have skewed results.

NOTE: It is difficult to find bilingual universities and, by extension, exact comparators.

The final group of comparators comprises a selection of U15 members (Canada’s 15 leading research universities). The University is a U15 member and a top Canadian research university.

uOttawa is a leading research university in all disciplines (medicine, the social sciences, health sciences, science and engineering, administration, art, law, education) and aims to develop a compensation philosophy that will allow it to:

  • Attract, motivate and retain high-calibre leaders that would ensure the University becomes an employer of choice and one of the top five research universities in Canada
  • Reach its strategic goals related to the student experience, internationalization, bilingualism and research excellence
  • Further its academic mission of making the University of Ottawa one of the great institutions of our time, with a reputation to match its achievements
  • Establish and maintain competitive overall compensation levels while taking into account the University’s ability to pay

 

What are the next steps?

After the public consultation is completed, the working group will consider the comments received during the consultation process and develop a final version of the compensation program, which will then be submitted to the goverment for approval.

Once approved by the Ontario government, the new program will become effective immediately. 

Although this legislation was implemented when we were facing difficult budgetary challenges, the University is committed to ensuring that there is a balance between merging compensation costs while allowing the University to attract and retain the senior leadership talent it needs to support its academic mission.

 
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