June 2023 Report to Faculty from the VCCFA
Prepared by Taryn Thomson, VCCFA President
I am hoping that many of you will soon be taking holidays. As a reminder to Department Heads, if you are in a department that does not have more than one department leader, you are able to take holidays and replace yourself. If you have questions about this, please reach out. Our holidays are an important benefit; please take your holidays!
Attached to this email, please find the Kathryn McNaughton letter which is the agreement we reached with the college around department leader holidays in 2019.
We have received data about the number of administrators making more than $100,000 at VCC currently, and thanks to the work of Frank Cosco (VP), we know the following things:
- In 2012 there were about 40 administrators making more than faculty. In 2023 there are about 70. This is an increase of 75%
- In comparison, the number of faculty has basically stayed the same
- The salary costs for these administrators is about $10 million dollars. Compared to 2012 costs that’s an increase of about 225%
- Faculty salary increases are about even with inflation. The total costs for administrators have gone up at almost 7 times more steeply than faculty costs.
Somehow, the college continues to find money for administrators.
In light of this, the VCCFA is calling on a halt to any faculty layoffs for this fiscal year.
There continues to be instability in people services, and we continue to hear from members who have been given incorrect information about things like regularization, holiday carry over, and other matters. Please bring your questions to us at the FA, or cc us in your queries to people services to ensure you get the correct information.
New Indigenous Deans
Welcome to Jessie Williams and David Kirk! Jessie will be starting at VCC in early July and David in early August. I was on the hiring committee for both and it was a positive experience that included broad representation from across the college community as well as from the three host nations. We look forward to working with Jessie and David. While we are critical of the ever growing number of administrators, we applaud this positive step towards decolonizing VCC.
Move Up strike at Capilano University
The support staff at Capilano University continue to be out on strike and are into the third week on the picket line. Faculty at Capilano are honouring the picket line and out walking with their co-workers in solidarity. My thanks to the VCC faculty who have taken time to go and bring greetings, food, and support to those walking the line. We wish them a speedy resolution to the strike.
Select Standing Committee on Finance
I presented to the Select Standing Committee on Finance on June 12. I have attached my talking points if you are curious about what I said.
Frank, John and I will be taking turns getting a break this summer, but one of us should be around at all times. Please reach out if we can assist with anything.
Have a wonderful, restorative summer.
Kathryn McNaughton letter
Over the last few months, two converging situations have been discussed at 3:11 meetings with the College and the VCCFA: vacation liability and the challenges department leaders face in taking vacation. The two parties are in agreement that department leaders should be taking holidays and further, that not only is it healthy for department leaders to take breaks from work, but that carrying over holidays regularly and in large amounts creates a significant liability for the College.
I have confirmed with Finance that “the annual vacation entitlement is budgeted for all faculty staff based on the CA” (J. Choi, email June 23, 2019). In conversations with the VCCFA, we also emphasized that having another member of the department step into a leadership role provides preparation for succession, and an understanding of the administration of the department that moves beyond the current leader. Usually, this will mean a more senior instructor will take on the department leader duties and be replaced in the classroom (or library or counselling office). There may be specific departmental circumstances in which other arrangements are required.
- In departments where there is more than one department leader (such as a department leader and an assistant department leader), these individuals should cover for each other and stagger their holidays. There should be no need to replace department leaders in these departments.
- In departments where there is only a department leader, but the department closes for two months in the year, the department leader is strongly encouraged to take vacation during this closure time. If the individual needs to come in during a week or two of that closure for administrative purposes, then the department leader would make arrangements to take the remaining vacation at an alternative time. In that case, they would require a replacement.
- In departments where there is one department leader and the department runs 12 months of the year, then that individual would arrange their vacation taking into account departmental needs, and the overall vacation schedule of department personnel. They would be replaced up to their release status.
I hope that this provides clarity and guidance for a process that, at the beginning of the conversation, seemed pretty straightforward!
Presentation to the Select Standing Committee on Finance, June 12, 2023
VCCFA President, Taryn Thomson
Thanks for the opportunity to speak to you today. The budget is not only about spending, but about priorities and the ideas and philosophies behind these priorities. With that in mind, the comments and questions I am making today are really about values — the values that anchor our work here at Vancouver Community College and in the VCCFA.
I want to offer some kudos, to make one request, and to ask one question.
First of all, I’d like to thank the government for making ABE and EAL tuition free in 2017. I was a department head in an ABE department in 2014 when the liberals brought in tuition, and it was such a difficult time for ABE students. I completely agree with the current government that basic levels of education and language acquisition are a basic right, like basic medical, and should be free of charge. This was one of the first actions the current government took, and it was a positive one. At VCC, our developmental, or access programming is at the heart of what we do. While many institutions have all but stopped delivering developmental programming, we remain committed to doing this work that is vital to the communities we serve.
I’d also like to applaud the government on the new Anti-Racism Data Act. This is a really important piece of legislation that is going to change the way data is collected and how it is interpreted. Inequalities will be brought further into the light to be reckoned with, and this is necessary work.
2. Funding Review
Access programming is about raising up the skills, education and future prospects of diverse students, both new Canadians and domestic students. VCC has held onto its Access roots, but this continues to be a financial challenge. Most institutions rely on revenue from International Education to build surpluses. VCC is different. We believe that Access (or developmental) programming is important, and we continue to hold space for it. In addition, we don’t have the quantity of UT programming that other institutions have, and this means we are structurally different as well. While we welcome International Students at VCC, for us it is about finding the right balance.
We hope the government will return to the funding review in the near future.
3. International Education
Most institutions rely heavily on International students and the high tuition they bring to keep their campuses running sustainably. However, the news is filled with the darker side of this funding model. We know that not all International students are wealthy, and that many come to Canada using the last of the family funds in order to create a brighter future. Once here, many face food insecurity and housing insecurity. Now we are even hearing of International students turning to sex work to make ends meet. International students need the support of their institutions and our government so they can thrive here. If Post-Secondary is relying on this group of students to fund our system, it is unscrupulous for us to take advantage of them while in our care. Is the government undertaking a study of this issue, and if so, when can we expect to hear the results?
Thanks — I will happily answer any questions you might have.