The University of the Fraser Valley. (Darren McDonald/ UFV)

The University of the Fraser Valley. (Darren McDonald/ UFV)

UFV offering employee buyouts in bid to avoid layoffs and balance budget

Buyouts aim to ‘soften potential ramifications’ of pandemic’s financial cost

An earlier version of this story noted that spending on salaries and benefits increased 45 per cent between 2018 and 2020. That calculation was incorrect and based off of 2018’s salary figures only, excluding benefits. The correct figure was 17 per cent.

The University of the Fraser Valley is offering buyouts to experienced staff to attempt to cut costs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The university has developed what it is calling a “retirement incentive program” to try to cut staffing costs as UFV looks to trim its balance sheet.

In an email to employees at the end of November, Marnie Wright, UFV’s associate vice-president, human resources, writes that the university is looking at a “significant budget shortfall” for the next fiscal year.

“This is due to repercussions directly and indirectly attributable to the pandemic,” Wright wrote.

The retirement program – which she says was developed “in consultation” with the UFV Faculty and Staff Association – is meant to “soften possible ramifications for faculty and staff employment,” the email says.

The program is only available to employees between the ages of 55 and 75 with at least 10 years of employment at the university. Those leaving won’t be rehired.

The deadline to apply is Dec. 15, although workers will be able to change their mind before January.

Workers who take a buyout can choose to receive up to two weeks salary for each year of service – up to a full year’s salary. They can also ask to have the money paid into an RRSP.

Dave Pinton, the university’s director of communications, said in an email that UFV expects up to 30 to 40 people will apply for the program. He emphasized participation is voluntary.

“UFV has a strong foundation of financial stewardship and a history of prudent fiscal policy,” he wrote. “However, difficult steps will have to be taken to ensure a balanced position for the next budget year beginning in April 2021.”

“We don’t take any reduction of positions lightly. All possible options to reduce expenditures and raise revenues will be explored with determination and diligence before lay-offs are considered during the 2021 fiscal year.”

Before the pandemic hit, the university had been seeing its staffing costs increase significantly.

Spending on salaries and benefits rose 11 per cent between 2018/2019 and 2019/2020, according to UFV’s most-recent financial statements.

The university spent $103 million on salaries and benefits last year. The financial statements say wage increases, retroactive payments, management pay hikes, and anticipated costs of future union contracts had pushed those figures up.

Seventy per cent of all the university’s spending was on staffing.

UFV’s spending on salaries and benefits increased 17 per cent between 2018 and 2020. Those increases came as UFV and other British Columbia universities have seen dramatic increase in tuition-related revenue that have pushed their revenues – and annual surpluses – dramatically higher.

Much of that money came from the tuition of international students.

The finance vice-president at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops warned last year year about the stability of international enrolments, noting that the surpluses could disappear “overnight.”

That is what appears to have happened. At TRU, more than 80 staff members have been laid off, with that university projecting a $9 million deficit.

RELATED: UFV & other B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


Contact the reporter on Twitter at
@ty_olsen

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Chilliwack driver’s vehicle was impounded for seven days after an excessive speeding violation. (RCMP photo)
RCMP catch Chilliwack driver doing 60 km/h over posted speed limit

The motorist was hit with a big ticket and a seven day vehicle impoundment

Glenwood Seniors Community is the second long term care home in Agassiz to have a COVID-19 outbreak. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Glenwood Seniors Community in Agassiz

The long term care home is the second of Agassiz’s three facilities to have an outbreak

UFV assistant kinesiology professor Dr. Iris Lesser exercises along Chilliwack's Vedder Rotary Trail with her daughter Kaia. (UFV photo)
UFV study finds women with reduced physical activity had more mental health struggles during COVID pandemic

The study suggested women suffered more than men as gyms, parks and playgrounds shut down

The section of Princess Avenue from Young Road to Nowell Street, seen here on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, will be converted to one-way traffic to help increase parking in the area. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack council opts to convert downtown street to one-way traffic to create parking

Council voted to start with Princess Avenue, holding off on converting Victoria Avenue until later

Uber Eats has announced that it is now delivering food orders in Abbotsford and Chilliwack. (Submitted photo by Justin Walker)
Uber Eats announces expansion into Chilliwack

Food-delivery company is starting with 60 local restaurants

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read