Budget update and salary discussions

The following is a campus-wide letter from University of Lethbridge President Dr. Bill Cade

Budget Update and Salary Discussions
January 12, 2010

Welcome to the New Year and a new semester! I hope the Christmas break provided you with an opportunity to relax and recharge yourself and to connect with family and friends.

I know that these are nervous times within our institution and so this letter is intended to provide you with a clear picture of what I know with respect to our budgetary situation.

While there is still no new communication from the Government of Alberta regarding the level of base operating grant our University is likely to receive, there have been discussions with employee group executive committees that we would like to communicate to the University community.

In my letter to the University on December 9, 2009, I mentioned that there were ongoing conversations with employee groups to discuss options that would produce some flexibility within our financial picture. At that time I had mentioned the leadership shown by the members of senior administration (President, Vice-Presidents, Associate Vice-Presidents, Executive Directors, Deans, and Associate Deans) who had agreed to accept a 0 % salary increase (0 % cost of living adjustment (COLA) and 0 % merit & career progress increments) for the 2010-2011 year.

To date we have also been in discussions with the APO Executive, Exempt Support Staff and the AUPE Executive Committees to discuss the possibility of a salary freeze to assist with the budget shortfalls. Exempt Support Staff have, in principle with conditions, accepted a salary freeze for July 1, 2010-2011 compensation year (0% to COLA and 0% Merit) and discussions are ongoing with the APO and AUPE employee groups. I greatly appreciate the willingness of those employee groups to explore the possibility of a salary freeze as I know how difficult this will be in the current economic environment.

As we move forward I want to highlight the guiding principles the University has been following while working with the various employee groups:

1. Every attempt must be made to try and avoid involuntary lay-offs which obviously have a dramatic impact on the individuals laid off, and their families, but also to the University as a whole.

2. In exchange for an agreement to freeze salaries the parties agree on a set of conditions in which there is an assurance, or guarantee, of no involuntary layoffs.

3. The agreements have been proposed on the assumption of a 0% change to the provincial operating grant.

4. Finally, every effort would be made to minimize the impact on the current compensation structure for the upcoming budget year and beyond.

I would also like to thank the members of the University Budget Committee for their continued discussions and deliberations in formulating the operating budget. The Budget Committee has reviewed and listened to all the budget unit presentations and is now taking this information and putting together the budget for recommendation to the Board of Governors. It is hoped that we will soon hear from the Provincial Government on what our operating grant will be for 2010-11 so that we can make informed budget decisions.

Our 2009-2013 Strategic Plan is leading us forward and as it states, we value the efforts of our staff and encourage dialogue and discussions in order to achieve our strategic priorities.

Our University is a strong community and we will use this strength and commitment to move us through these more than challenging times. I will continue to keep you informed as new information becomes available.


William H. Cade, Ph.D.
President & Vice-Chancellor
Professor of Biological Sciences