Ford government snubs professors By: Jenn Jaeger

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The Ford Government passed legislation on May 29 that can stop university and college professors from receiving full salaries and pensions simultaneously, known as double dipping.

“There is evidence that double-dipping by professors increased dramatically over the past decade. Higher Education Strategy Associates recently estimated spending on faculty over 65 is $1.3 billion higher now than it was 15 years ago.

Over the last several years, the number of faculty members 40 or under has fallen from 22 per cent to 15 per cent,” Randy Pettapiece, M.P.P. for Perth-Wellington, said.

Omnibus Finance Minister Vic Fedeli’s budget bill changed 61 pieces of legislation, including one that enables universities to reduce salaries of retired employees, who are also receiving a pension to as little as zero.

“The potential opportunity for more young professionals to obtain tenure at our post-secondary institutions is a positive goal of the budget bill,” Pettapiece said. “Budget 2019 presents a responsible plan back to balance, while protecting what matters most—our frontline teachers and professors… We are proposing modern and forward thinking ideas, which will lead to good jobs for graduates.”

But Pettapiece was unable to provide evidence of this assertion.

Dr. Sharon Jaeger of Wilfrid Laurier and Conestoga College.

“Since each individual institution makes hiring decisions, I cannot speculate if the proposed changes in the budget will lead to more young professionals being hired. However, I personally hope it would,” he said.

“I do not feel that the aspect of this legislation dealing with ‘double dipping’ will have any large impact overall on areas such as opening up more [full-time]/tenured positions”, Dr. Sharon Jaeger, Contract Faculty Member at Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College, said.

The government stopped forcing retirement in 2006, but still forces pension at 71. The new legislation forces professors who still want to contribute to academia after 71 to work for free.

Dr. Ellsworth LeDrew, retired and active UW professor of geography and environmental management, pointed out that forced pension is unnecessary.

Dr. Ellsworth LeDrew of UW.

“It’s much better to have contributing seasoned faculty members than to force them to retire,” he said.

LeDrew feels this legislation is a disservice to experienced professors. He believes for himself and for most other professors, it is not about the money.

“Once you’re wired as a professor, it’s hard to turn that off,” he said.

Jaeger said the real concern is the trend towards employing contract, contingent faculty who have the same education, number of publications as FT/tenured faculty. “It is so much cheaper since we are paid so much less and our pensions are so much less,” Jaeger said. “This is the model that enables higher education to operate currently [with] more contract faculty, teaching more and more courses and much less investment in hiring full-time/tenure track.”

LeDrew believes that the answer to douple dipping is to change pension laws.

“[The answer] is not to have the provincial government create legislation that will force faculty to work for free, but to change the pension laws allowing faculty to delay or forego the pension.” he said. “This would solve the problem without alienating seasoned faculty by only allowing them to work for free.”