BY ALEXANDRA MACAULAY ABDELWAHAB
Top-earners at Ryerson can forget about a raise this year. The university’s highest paid employees have had their salaries frozen with no cost of living adjustment.
The wage freeze follows a recommendation earlier this year from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to put a cap on salary increases for employees earning $150,000 or more per year.
“My salary was one of those that was frozen in every component,” said President Sheldon Levy, who earned $344,583 in the last academic year.
According to Levy, the decision will only affect him and members of Ryerson’s executive group, which made more than $1.19 million dollars collectively last year.
Cuts to Ryerson’s operating budget were expected to be five per cent this year, but Tas Venetsanopoulos, vice-president research and innovation, said this number is closer to three per cent. According to Venetsanopoulos, the cost of living adjustment normally matches the rate of inflation, currently about two per cent. He said the money saved has instead been put towards student bursaries, which were suffering due to low interest rates.
“This was the understanding that I had,” said Venetsanopoulos. In 2008, he was paid $301,843.
Because all other salaries at Ryerson are negotiated through collective bargaining only the wages of the school’s highest paid employees can be capped.
Adam Kahan, vice-president university advancement, stressed that the salary freeze is not due to a budget shortfall at Ryerson.
“It really has nothing to do with the budget,” said Kahan, the school’s top-earner who made around $358,644 last year. “It has to do with optics.”
Ryerson is one of the last schools in the province to announce a salary freeze. Following the recommendation by the ministry in early March, several schools announced salary freezes for their top executives, including the University of Toronto, Queen’s and McMaster.