Government pushes U of R for answers in unearned overtime case

Saskatchewan's Minister of Advanced Education has given the University of Regina 10 days to answer his questions about massive unearned overtime payments made at the institution.
Sign at the entrance to the University of Regina. (CBC)

Saskatchewan's Minister of Advanced Education has given the University of Regina 10 days to answer his questions about massive unearned overtime payments made at the institution.

A CBC iTeam investigation discovered that for 11 years two employees in the faculty of education were claiming and receiving overtime payments for work they didn't actually do. Those payments total well in excess of $100,000. 

This began back in 2001 and continued until September 2012.  The issue came to the attention of senior administration at the U of R about a one year ago and the payments were stopped. 

The minister congratulates the university for that move, but Rob Norris said he still has many concerns regarding accountability and transparency.

"It's about the level of oversight that by all appearances didn't take place for over a decade," Norris said. "We need some answers. I need some answers about why."

The payments were approved by the dean of the faculty of education, James McNinch.

This revelation makes Norris wonder about the overtime policy at the university and about how well that policy is followed. 

Norris would also like to have a clear picture of just how much money was actually paid out and whether any of it was ever recovered. He has written those questions and more in a letter to the board chair and the president of the university. 

Norris said he'll expect answers within a week to 10 days. 

"I respect the university's autonomy," Norris said. "That being said, there also has to be accountability and we're dealing with significant public funds and we need to get to the bottom of this."

Norris said the public deserves a lot more information on this issue and he'll share what he learns with Saskatchewan people.

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