In comparison to other Canadian universities, professors at the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg have salaries that are below average, making them among the poorest paid professors in Western Canada.
Statistics Canada figures show that professors salaries are, on average, significantly higher at the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the University of British Columbia and McMaster University, to name a few.
According to 2009-10 figures taken from Statistics Canada, the average salary of the full professors, associate professors and assistant professors at the University of Manitoba is $113,443 per annum.
Cameron Morrill, University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) president, said he believes that academic salaries at the U of M need to see increases “both out of fairness, since our academics do the same work as do academics at these other universities, and to make the U of M an attractive place for academics to come to and stay.”
While the average full-time professor at the U of M earns $138,381 per year, a full-time professor at the University of Calgary will earn $163,928 on average each year.
In their last round of negotiations to ratify a new collective agreement with the university, UMFA accepted a 4.4 per cent wage increase over the three-year contract.
“Certainly, the salary settlement is low, and as a result, professors’ salaries here will be even further behind those of institutions like the University of Saskatchewan,” he said.
Nevertheless, Morrill recognizes that the recent settlements at the University of Winnipeg and other Manitoba unions have included salary increases in the same range.
“Taken together, it was the best agreement that we thought we could get at the time,” said Morrill.
Director of Public Affairs at the U of M, John Danakas, said that competitiveness of salaries is an important issue that informs much of the discussion during any collective bargaining process between the university and the faculty association.
“A major outcome of that process is to help ensure faculty salaries at the University of Manitoba are reasonably competitive with those at other medical-doctoral universities across Canada,” he said.
According to 2008-09 figures from Statistics Canada, the average salaries of full professors, associate professors and assistant professors at the U of W was $81 576. Average salaries for assistant professors clocked in at a comparatively paltry $65 001.
The University of Winnipeg Faculty Association (UWFA) members voted to ratify a new collective agreement on March 11, after narrowly avoiding a strike last week. The agreement entails a 5.41 per cent increase over three years to salary and benefits, which is equivalent to a 3.3 per cent wage increase over the same period after benefits are subtracted.
According to strike.uwfa.ca, the agreement also includes an assurance that faculty at the University of Winnipeg will earn similar salary scales to other Manitoba universities by October 2012.
According to UWFA spokesperson Shannon Sampert, the wage issue is an issue of fairness.
“Now we’ve turned the corner on the idea of wage negotiations and we’ve moved into a corner of trying to figure out why the University of Winnipeg is so differently funded compared to the University of Manitoba and Brandon University, and that becomes the bigger question,” she said.
“I’m not saying it should be incredibly equal [ . . . ], but I think we need to open it up to equality and equity and make sure that it’s fair,” she continued.
Sampert noted that since universities are always at different stages in their negotiations, they tend to play off each other when arguing for their gain, which can make the situation more difficult.
Liza McCoy, an associate professor in the department of sociology at the University of Calgary, finds that professor demands are often influenced by who they are comparing themselves to.
“Based on what I’ve heard from colleagues here at the university, people don’t think their salaries are high enough. [ . . . ] The people who work in the university are aware that they earn a lot less than professionals working in the local corporate sector,” she said.
At Brandon University, the average salary, including all positions, is $91,026. Full professors receive an average of $117,650, while the average associate professor’s salary is $93,086. Although salary numbers at Brandon University are significantly lower than that at the U of M, they are nevertheless higher than those at the U of W.
In 2008, the Brandon University undertook a 17-day strike, after which they agreed on a three per cent increase in salary and substantial pension improvements. The Brandon University Faculty Association is currently undergoing negotiations with the university administration.
Joe Dolecki, president of the Brandon University Faculty Association (BUFA), and the union’s chief negotiator, said that the association has always gone into negotiations to try to stay competitive with other institutions, most notably those in Ontario, Albert and British Columbia.
Dolecki said that BUFA looks first to the university administration as the source of financial difficulties, rather than the province.
“There has been a great deal of concern about the way in which the university administration at BU spends the monies that they have. [ . . . ] There has been a constant struggle over the allocation of resources between buiding up administrative positions as opposed to academic positions,” he said.