Universities balk at disclosing presidents' salaries

New Brunswick's four publicly funded universities are stalling the release of the salaries and expenses of their presidents.

Universities seek more time to release their presidents' salaries and expenses

New Brunswick’s four publicly funded universities are refusing to immediately disclose their presidents’ salaries and expenses even though they now fall under the province’s information law.

Universities and municipalities were added to the groups subject to the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act on Sept. 1.

The University of New Brunswick will not release the salary or expenses of Eddy Campbell for 90 days. (University of New Brunswick)

CBC News requested information on Sept. 4. relating to the salaries and expenses of the presidents for the University of New Brunswick, University of Moncton, Mount Allison University and St. Thomas University in the last 12 months.

The New Brunswick government has made it clear since the new law was introduced that universities and municipalities would soon be required to disclose information to citizens, in the same manner that departments release documents.

On Aug. 2, the provincial government issued a statement saying universities, community colleges, municipalities, local service districts and rural communities would be officially under the act on Sept. 1.

But the four taxpayer-funded universities have invoked a section of the right-to-information law to punt disclosure of these salaries and expenses for 90 days.

The University of Moncton is also postponing the release of the salary and expenses for Raymond Theberge, the institution's president. (CBC)

Each university, in separate letters sent to CBC News, cited Section 33(2)(b) as the reason to deny disclosure of their presidents’ salaries and expense accounts. The section allows publicly funded bodies to defer the release of information if it was intended to be released within three months.

But universities have never publicly disclosed the salaries and expenses of their presidents.

CBC News has appealed the universities’ response to the province’s access to information and privacy commissioner.

Salaries public in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia universities are required to disclose the salary of anyone earning over $100,000.

Nova Scotia citizens can access the salaries of employees at the province's universities who earn more than $100,000. (CBC)

In January, CBC News reported on a series of salaries paid to Nova Scotia university administrators.

Tom Traves, the president of Dalhousie University, had the highest salary in the province and earned $393,264 in 2011-12.

Sean Riley, the president of St. Francis Xavier, was paid $276,615 and Colin Dodds, the president of Saint Mary’s University, was paid $226,282.

The Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers issued a report in September, saying administration spending had increased by an average of 27 per cent in the last seven years.

N.B. failed information audit

The failure of the province’s universities to disclose information comes days after other New Brunswick institutions were knocked by Newspapers Canada's 2012 Freedom of Information Audit for their poor performance.

Overall, New Brunswick's provincial government got an "F" for disclosure and a "C" for the speed of its response.

One reason for the province's "F" on completeness of disclosure was because the Department of Education hadn't responded to a request after four months.

The information audit also sent requests to the province's three largest municipalities prior to them being covered by the information law.

Fredericton got an "A" for speed but an "F" for completeness of disclosure.

Saint John got an "A" for speed and a "C" for extent of disclosure and Moncton got an "F" on both counts.