Following the Summit, some media reported that the cuts to Quebec’s universities had been reduced by 75 per cent. This is not the case. In reality, we face the same level of cuts — $38 million for McGill in this year and next. The government offer provides some flexibility in the time frame and removed the threat of monetary penalties for not taking the cuts now, but we must implement them.
As well, the Government has described reinvestment beginning in 2015, economic conditions in Quebec permitting. The Government is setting up a work group to review how this funding would be allocated to universities, and we do not know what portion McGill will receive. Given this, and the significant economic uncertainties, we cannot responsibly count on this investment.
In addition to uncertain government funding, McGill’s operating budget must cover increased compulsory expenditures in certain areas, including contributions to the McGill Pension Plan, new obligations under the Pay Equity legislation and urgent building maintenance and repair. These compulsory costs have grown substantially.
Because of these cuts, McGill’s accumulated deficit (non-GAAP) will increase by 30 per cent this year (2012-13), from $93M to $120M, and is on a trajectory to double by 2019. To act responsibly, we must begin to reduce costs substantially now. We must look to the long term and do everything we can to protect our core mission and keep McGill a vibrant, internationally competitive institution of higher learning.
These new financial realities will lead to hard decisions that will affect all employee groups: executives, managers and unionized groups. We have considered the thoughtful suggestions from the McGill community, and we will be discussing with each of McGill’s employee groups a menu of options to reduce expenses, such as salary and hiring freezes, an early retirement program for administrative and support staff, and cuts to services and programs.
Compensation (salary and benefits) makes up 75 per cent of our core operating costs, and if we are unable to reduce expenses to the needed level through these measures, we will have to explore job losses.
This is a tough time for everyone at McGill, and everyone will be asked to make sacrifices and pull together for the collective good of our University. McGill has faced threats before, such as the repercussions from the meltdown of financial markets. We came out of those crises stronger. We will do the same this time.
More precise information will be made available to you over the next two weeks. We will continue to post regular updates on the Red Blog and on the Budget Cuts website, and encourage you to share your comments and ideas on the Blog or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anthony C. Masi, Provost
Michael Di Grappa, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance)
March 12, 2013