The proud pomposity of the Toronto Star.

There are few things funnier than a Toronto Star editorial that lambastes the Ontario government for all the wrong reasons. And nothing deflates the pomposity better than getting their facts wrong. We are looking at the Star editorial demanding an end to the proposed increases in community college presidents’ salaries. What would really help here would be if the Star could just contain its mock outrage.

First of all, the Star should check and it is quite possible that our community college presidents have had their salaries frozen since 2010. That would be seven years, not five. And what is pertinent is how their jobs have been changing throughout that period.

What also strikes us as we look at this situation is that not all community colleges are equal. The Toronto-centred interests of the Toronto Star are well understood but the Toronto-centred focus of the Ontario government is an absolute disgrace.

The critical lack of a university base in central Ontario, for example, has put a serious onus on Georgian College to work with multiple universities to bring degree courses to its wide-flung geography. Nobody would have believed you if you had said that was part of the job 20-years ago.

What we know today—and what Minister Deb Matthews knows—is that Ontario’s community colleges are terribly underfunded and not all can count on international students to fill the gap. Major adjustments have to be made in funding based on the need to look after our Ontario students. If the disparities continue, the province will have to pay some of the presidents three times the salary just to take the job.

In recruiting these people, they need to understand that a big part of the job today is revenue generation. You cannot do what needs to be done if you are not out beating the bushes for money. You have to negotiate every day with your communities, universities, industries and expanded international opportunities. And then you have to get back to the office to keep the home fires burning. People who can do that do not come cheap.

This is not a nine-to-five job and any college president who does not agree should be immediately fired. Nobody should be getting a free ride here—especially Minister Deb Matthews.

But all this being said, our college presidents are generally doing a great job. They deserve an increase of some sort after so many years of penny-pinching governments. Maybe they will get decent raises over the next few years but nobody is so dumb as to expect the figures the Toronto Star is talking about. We should wait until the boards act. We should leave our muskets over the mantel until we have something real to shoot at.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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