2 U of R employees paid $378K in overtime

The University of Regina says it won't be able to get back $378,000 in improper overtime paid to two employees.

Payments made over 11 years not 'legitimate' way to compensate, university says

The University of Regina says it won't be able to get back $378,000 in improper overtime paid to two employees.

On Wednesday, U of R president Vianne Timmons provided the dollar figure and other details on a story uncovered earlier this month by CBC Saskatchewan's iTeam.

CBC reported the overtime paid inappropriately to two information technology workers in the education faculty over 11 years was more than $100,000.

It turns out it was a lot more: One employee received $187,000 and the other got $191,000.

The university says the then-dean of education authorized the payments in 2001 and after the first year, the deal was continued for another decade, even after that dean's term was up in 2006. 

"It was her way of trying to retain excellent IT staff," said Timmons about the dean who initially approved the payments. 

"The practise when it was discovered in the Faculty of Education was immediately stopped," continued Timmons. "It was wrong and not acceptable."

Timmons said the university has been told that to try to recover the $378,000 would be too difficult, so it hasn't done that.

"The legal advice we received held that the prospect of successful recovery of these funds was remote, as it had been authorized in writing by the then-dean of education," said Timmons. 

No disciplinary measures have been taken against any of the people who came up with the plan. 

The original idea was to reimburse the employees for overtime they hadn't made specific claims for. It seemed the former dean also wanted to provide a "salary supplement" to encourage them to keep working at the U of R.

However, the university says it recognizes now that the extra pay was not a legitimate way to compensate good performance.

The university says it learned of the arrangement a year ago and immediately cancelled it.

Education Minister "very troubled" by incident 

The university also revealed that it did not report the matter to the provincial auditor or the government until CBC's iTeam started looking into the matter. 

The university released a written response from board of governors' chair Lee Elliott on Wednesday.

After CBC ran stories about the case, Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris demanded a full accounting of the case from the university. 

"I'm very troubled," Norris told CBC News. "I still have a number of question that remain. Those questions all continue to be framed around accountability."

Norris said he hope some of his questions will be answered by the Ministry of Justice. He has referred the file to them to explore the government's options. 


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