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The Surrey, B.C., campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University. (Handout)
The Surrey, B.C., campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University. (Handout)

No penalties levied despite ‘troubling’ report on B.C. institution’s salaries Add to ...

British Columbia Finance Minister Mike de Jong says a report that concludes a polytechnic university in the Vancouver area failed to meet government disclosure requirements by topping up salaries of senior executives also reveals unacceptable actions one of his cabinet colleagues when he was a board member at the school.

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But de Jong said Tuesday that the report won’t result in any sanctions or penalties against any Kwantlen Polytechnic University or Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk.

Instead, de Jong said the report recommends government employment bureaucrats at the Post-Secondary Employers’ Association and the Public Sector Employer’s Council and staff within the Advanced Education Ministry conduct mandatory one-day disclosure and reporting sessions every year for executives handling employment issues.

The report also recommends board members at post-secondary institutions are aware of their responsibilities and obligations when it comes transparency in disclosing compensation agreements.

De Jong said the report was “troubling in the sense that we have guidelines that relate to both the amounts that are allowed to be paid in those circumstances and guidelines that relate to how those amounts must be disclosed. Those requirements weren’t met and that’s not satisfactory.”

The review, which was conducted by assistant deputy minister Rob Mingay, found Kwantlen’s board violated government disclosure guidelines on two occasions: once during the 2011 process of hiring former vice president Anne Lavack and again during the hiring of current president Alan Davis.

Mingay’s report found a Kwantlen board offer of an extra $50,000 to Lavack as a pre-employment contract “was inconsistent with the spirit and intent of Public Sector Employment Council’s guidelines.” The report also found a $50,000 pre-employment contract in 2012 with Davis “was inconsistent with the spirit and intent of PSEC’s guidelines.”

The report found the Kwantlen board was not aware of Lavack’s extra $50,000, but the board, of which Virk was a member, was aware of the $50,000 for Davis.

“The public wants to know that there is total transparency in reporting executive compensation in the entire public sector,” said Mingay’s 24-page report. “Transparency in reporting is one of the foundations of public trust.”

The guidelines put Lavack at a salary that topped at $170,000 a year, and the top salary for Davis at $225,000 annually.

Virk, who deflected questions from reporters about resigning over the report, said he was serving as a volunteer on the board when the hiring issues arose.

“As a volunteer board member one certainly tries to do their best and it’s regrettable that as a volunteer that one didn’t do their best,” said Virk. “I’m humbled that I could have done better at the time.”

Opposition New Democrat advanced education critic David Eby said the report’s finding’s are damning and shed light on Premier Christy Clark’s decision to place Virk, a former RCMP officer, in her cabinet.

“It’s incredibly concerning to me that someone who is in charge of post-secondary education in British Columbia was found to have conducted himself in this manner while he was on the board of a university,” Eby said.

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