Wayne MacKay, the former president and vice-chancellor of Mount Allison University, is weighing in on the strike by professors at the University of New Brunswick that began on Monday and the vote in favour of a strike by faculty at Mount Allison.

Wayne MacKay

Former Mount Allison University President Wayne MacKay believes parity is needed across the country for professor salaries. (CBC)

He says professors in Atlantic Canada are paid reasonably well, but he says it's a matter of being competitive.

"There needs to be some degree of parity in wages across the country or you won't be able to keep the best talent and have the best teachers at your university," MacKay said.

He says the real challenge is to get faculty unions and university administrators to agree on which universities their school should be compared to.

MacKay says location, size and reputation all factor into that decision.

"Typically the list that the administrators would have and the list that the faculty union would have would not be the same." 

MacKay also disputes a contention by Kevin Lacey of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, who said Wednesday that professors were playing with the money of New Brunswick taxpayers.

UNB Strike

Professors at UNB are asking for a 23 per cent wage increase over four years, but the university is offering 9.5 per cent. (Shaun Waters/CBC)

He says university funding doesn't come entirely from government, nor does he believe the fact that there are several universities in New Brunswick is making the problem worse.

"University funding is not nearly as strictly governmental as it used to be," MacKay said.

"So that having more institutions may not be a problem if some of them are getting most of their money from the private sector and if tuition can rise to a point where they support that."

MacKay says Atlantic Canada has become known for first class universities, citing Mount Allison, St. Francis Xavier and Acadia as schools that routinely score well in the Mclean's magazine university rankings.

"In order to keep that kind of standard and promote it we need high quality personnel at all levels," MacKay said. "At the administrative level, at the faculty level, at the support level and that again requires some degree of investment within the limits of your budget."

MacKay is currently a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax.