Sunshine list shows college’s growing reliance on contract workers

by | Apr 21, 2017 | News

Alesiha Legair
News Reporter

Humber College has the highest paid employee among all provincial colleges, according to the Ontario 2016 Sunshine List.

Humber’s President and CEO Christopher Whitaker is the highest paid college boss in Ontario with an annual salary of $493,786, the list released on March 31 showed.

A close second is Sheridan College’s president Jeff Zabudsky, who earned $460,261 after a 25.9 per cent pay increase, while Seneca College’s David Agnew earned $412,738 with no increase that year, the list showed.

The Sunshine List also highlights eight other Humber College employees that received annual incomes of over $200,000, and 491 others earning more than $100,000 in 2016. The list released annually cites all provincial employees earning more than $100,000, a figure which has not changed in the 20 years the list has been available although inflation would put the current number at about $147,000.

Whitaker became president and CEO of Humber in July 2012. Prior to the appointment, he was a college professor and administrator for nearly 25 years at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ont., and president there for five years.

Whitaker holds a PhD from the University of Toronto, a master’s degree from York University and a bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University.

But along with having the highest paid president in the province, Humber may also have the highest number of part-time faculty as well.

Janet Porter, chief steward of OPSEU Local 562, said Humber College currently has 888 part-time faculty and 650 full-timers.

Of the part-timers, 700 are part of the union receiving some benefits, while the other 188 receive none, she said.

“Some of the small colleges don’t even have contract faculty, but they would be up north,” Porter said.

“So in the GTA, Humber’s probably the highest percentage of contract faculty. It runs anywhere between 50 and 70 per cent contract faculty,” she said.

Humber’s use of more part-time or contract faculty than full-timers is based on a business model used by all colleges in the GTA to save costs, Porter said.

“That is the business model that the colleges have adopted, to have very high percentage of contract faculty so that they don’t have to give a lot of benefits and take on full-timers,” she said.

“The part-timers have no benefits. They are part of the pension plan but they do not have any extended health benefits or anything along those lines so dental, vision, drug, they don’t have any of that.

“The partial loads are unionized so they have more health benefits, but still not equal to what the full-timers have,” she said.

Some feel the business model is a way to ensure that full-time salaries are earned, while the president’s high salary is also deserved.

Pina Leo, a part-time faculty member in the Health and Sciences department, feels Whitaker’s salary is “absolutely” fitting, mainly due to the fact that Humber is the biggest college in Ontario with a total of four campuses to govern.

“We have Orangeville campus, Lakeshore campus. We have Carrier campus, plus we have this (North) campus,” Leo said. “Nobody else has as many campuses as we do in Ontario.”

Leo feels the college supports its part-time staff well although the union is working to improve the salaries and benefits of part-timers.

“I think they support part-time people the best way possible and I know that because I’ve been here for 21 years,” she said.

“If (improvement for part-timers) happens great, if it doesn’t we still continue fighting. There’s nothing we can do but just support (the union) the best way we can,” Leo said.

Kevin Carnez, a student in the Bachelor of Nursing program, said he feels more information is needed before jumping to conclusions about what is fair when it comes to wages.

President Whitaker’s salary “sounds like a lot but it could very well be what he’s worth if he does that amount of work,” Carnez said.