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Voluntary Retirement Program announced

Time-limited opportunity for eligible academic and non-academic staff

Campus and Community

By Memorial University

Memorial’s Board of Regents approved at its May 10 meeting a time-limited Voluntary Retirement Program for eligible academic and non-academic staff members.

Approved academic and non-academic staff members will receive a lump sum payment of one month of salary per year of service up to a maximum of 12 months of payment.

In total, Memorial has approved $8 million for the program. Once the funding has been applied, the program will come to a close.

Budgetary challenges

Memorial University continues to seek ways of facing our serious budgetary challenges. A recurring theme of the budget consultations led by the Integrated Planning Committee earlier this year was some sort of voluntary retirement program (VRP).

Since the Supreme Court of Canada eliminated mandatory retirement in 2009, universities across Canada have been facing increased pressures to honour higher salary commitments while renewing staffing complements and reducing the number of contractual employees, among other factors constraining operations budgets.

“In March of this year, a report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario revealed that ‘[a]pproximately 2,000 full-time professorial jobs would have been created over the past decade if the salary costs of the entire over-65 faculty cohort was applied toward hiring new PhD graduates into permanent positions,’” said Dr. Noreen Golfman, provost and vice-president (academic).

“The scale of potential job openings is much larger in Ontario, of course, but the same principle applies to Memorial. Renewal is seriously constrained when we are faced with flat or declining enrolments in some units, a severe reduction of our government grant, a freeze on domestic tuition and little or no opportunity to generate revenue to meet the legal obligation to balance our budget.”

Responding to what was heard in the consultation process, Vice-Presidents Council researched voluntary retirement programs recently implemented at other Canadian universities and determined the feasibility of similar approaches here.

“Drawing on the experience of other Canadian institutions, we have come up with a plan that should help us better manage our longer-term financial challenges while allowing for a measure of renewal,” said Dr. Golfman. 

Eligibility

The Voluntary Retirement Program is being offered in phases to operationally funded, permanent academic and non-academic staff who are enrolled in Memorial’s pension plan (or an alternate retirement plan recognized by Memorial) and who fall within the following groups:

  • Academic staff members who hold tenured or tenure-track positions
  • Non-academic staff in unionized, non-bargaining, management and professional, or senior administrative management positions (executive positions are excluded)

Consideration will be given to non-academic staff whose positions can be eliminated or can be filled in an alternate way that will generate substantive savings and contribute to the overall position reduction for the university.

Employees who may be eligible for this program will be contacted. If you are not contacted and believe you meet the criteria, please email vrp@mun.ca.

The large majority of eligible applicants at Memorial is located in the academic portfolio and are academic staff members. Managing the Voluntary Retirement Program therefore poses a number of challenges, as Memorial aims to balance the closing of positions with the possibility of renewal where deemed necessary and appropriate.

For those areas where renewal is necessary, the difference in salaries between retiring full professors and assistant professors who would be hired to replace them would result in substantive savings.

Above all, Memorial is committed to ensuring the integrity of academic programming.

Phases

The program will be offered in four phases.

Phase one is open to individuals who are a minimum age of 71. Phase two is open to individuals who are a minimum age of 65, but less than 71 and have 30-plus years of service. These two phases will run concurrently with applications being accepted from June 1 up to and including July 20, 2018.

Phases three and four will follow if program resources allow. Phase three includes individuals who are a minimum age of 60 but less than 65 and have 35-plus years of service. Phase four covers the same age demographic as phase three and includes individuals with 30-plus years of service.

Within each phase, priority will be given to applications based on years of service.

The long-term financial benefit of the program will be dependent on the number of academic and non-academic staff who avail themselves of the opportunity. However, the university expects to realize considerable net savings.

The Department of Human Resources will administer this program and has posted detailed FAQs to its website.


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