Students Nova Scotia


Press Releases & Updates

Nova Scotia Students Call for Wage Fairness Certification at Universities

For Immediate Release

Halifax—The members of Students Nova Scotia are unanimously demanding that universities pursue Wagemark certification and establish a reasonable and fair wage variance between their highest and lowest paid employees. The move comes on the heels of the mandatory disclosure of salaries above $100,000, which revealed that in 2012 the average president’s salary at Nova Scotia’s public post-secondary institutions was $277,000.

“The high-end pay rates at our universities are outrageous, especially when compared with performance on behalf of students and the public,” said StudentsNS Executive Director Jonathan Williams. “At Dalhousie, where there were across the board cuts to programs and many services last year, the President received an 11% raise to $437,000, while at NSCAD the former President who helmed the institution as it entered a terrible financial crisis earned $420,000.”

Wagemark certification is a scaled benchmark certifying organizations based on the ratio between the compensation for its highest paid employee and the bottom decile (10%) of its earners. The maximum ratio that is accepted for certification is 8:1. The only institutions that would almost certainly meet the standard currently are the Atlantic School of Theology and Université Sainte-Anne.

“This is an important initiative and I think Nova Scotians will agree that publicly-funded institutions like colleges and universities have a special obligation to ensure that their compensation practices are transparent and equitable”, said Wagemark Executive Director, Peter MacLeod. “Communities benefit and morale improves when organizations narrow the distance between their top and bottom earners.”

“Students are stunned to see what administrators are making, when they are struggling to pay their tuition and other costs with student loans and low-paid work”, said StudentsNS Chair Jared Perry. “In reality, many of our students actually work in our universities’ lowest-paid jobs, so this certification would hold the extraordinarily highly paid university employees to a relative standard.”

Student groups hope that Wagemark certification will allow students, the public, other stakeholders, or if necessary government to set targets for their institutions to improve this variance over time. Also, different standards below the 8:1 ratio could be applied to different sized institutions.

StudentsNS members across the province will be lobbying the universities directly to join the certification program, notably though representatives on Boards of Governors. They are calling for support from government, the public and other stakeholders.


For more information or questions, please contact:

Jonathan Williams

StudentsNS Executive Director

(O) 902.422.4068

(C) 902.483.5480



Peter MacLeod


(C) 416.833.3194


Kate Elliot