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University of Waterloo -- Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Monday, April 28, 1997

Premiums down -- for pensions and more

It's now official: as proposed in UW's budget for the coming year, pension plan premiums paid by staff and faculty members (and by the university itself) are going to be reduced. Some other savings on benefits will also put money in faculty and staff pockets, says a memo from UW provost Jim Kalbfleisch, dated last Wednesday:
I am pleased to report that recent claims experience in both our Long Term Disability and Group Life Insurance plans has been quite good. As a result, the LTD premium paid by employees is being reduced from 1.17% of salary to 0.75% effective May 1, 1997. Group life insurance premiums were reduced last September, and for the next few years the employer premium will not be a taxable benefit to employees.

Pension Fund investment returns of 17% and 20% in the past two years have produced a funding excess of more than $37 million at the end of 1996. This is in addition to the funds required for the Special Early Retirement Program (SERP) during 1996. The funding excess will likely grow in 1997 because the actuarial valuation uses a three-year average rate of return. If the funding excess were to exceed $47 million, legislation would require UW to stop contributing. The Pension and Benefits Committee has concluded that part of the funding excess should be used to reduce contribution levels, and part to improve future pensions.

Yesterday, the Board of Governors Executive Committee approved a P&B Committee recommendation to reduce pension contribution levels by half, starting May 1, 1997. The reduction is for three years, subject to annual review by the P&B Committee. It will save pension plan members between 2.4% and 3% of salary annually, with no effect on the pension benefit accrued. The University will contribute 133% of aggregate employee contributions as previously agreed, but because aggregate employee contributions are lower, there will also be savings of $3.3 million in the operating budget. This will help prevent further budget cuts and loss of faculty and staff positions.

The P&B Committee is discussing possible pension improvements, and plans to make recommendations to the Board of Governors in October, with changes being retroactive to May 1, 1997. I encourage you to discuss your suggestions with members of the Committee, or send them to Trenny Canning, Secretariat, NH (e-mail: tcanning@secretariat.uwaterloo.ca).

The provost provided a list of committee members, as follows (one typographical error has been corrected):

Employers visit with advice

The Waterloo Advisory Council holds its spring meeting at UW this evening and all day tomorrow, bringing the university advice from representatives of companies and agencies that employ co-op students and graduates. WAC chiefly advises the co-op department, but deans and other senior officials, as well as faculty members, also present reports and hear employer advice on the university's academic and administrative activities.

At this week's meeting there will be two main speakers. One is Bipasha Choudhury, the student who represented UW on the "Team Canada" trip to Asia early this year. The other is Ken McLaughlin of St. Jerome's College, the university historian, who will talk about UW's beginnings and particularly the early days of co-op education in Canada.

Talking energy and environment

"The Energy Industry in the 21st Century -- Why Energy Will Become a High 'Hot' Technology" is the topic of a keynote address by UW economist Larry Smith at a forum to be held tomorrow. The 10th annual "Canadian Technology Triangle Energy and Environment Forum -- Opportunities 2000", sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Kitchener and Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph, will take place at Wilfrid Laurier University's science building.

Says Patti Cook, UW's waste management coordinator: "This annual forum provides an educational workshop on energy and environmental management. It is designed to bring people together from commercial business and industry, to examine new technologies, and exchange ideas on how to save dollars and resources. Many suppliers will be exhibiting their energy and environment efficient products and services and will be available for consultation."

Smith is "a well-known futurist", according to publicity for the event, and is a frequently-quoted expert on the economy of the Waterloo area. (And I see that he's speaking at St. Jerome's College next Monday on "The Future of Work".) Besides his talk, tomorrow's forum offers sessions on industrial energy consevation, private-public infrastructure partnerships, "water efficiency in the commercial sector", the ISO14,000 standards, and similar matters. The $20 registration fee includes lunch and refreshments. More information: Tracey Geisen at the Kitchener & Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, 576-5000.

Australian visitor here today

Stuart White of Lismore, Australia, is giving an informal brown bag seminar on Water and Energy Efficiency Issues in Australia today at noon in Environmental Studies I room 221. Says Jim Robinson of the environment and resource studies department:
He is visiting Waterloo as part of a Churchill Fellowship to discuss research on utility-based water efficiency programs in North America and Europe. He is the principal Australian doing water efficiency consulting and research, he also has worked on ecological sanitation, sustainable futures, solid waste, transport and energy efficiency and strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia and on South Sea islands.

A number of his initiatives have resulted in technological responses to unusual political and economic circumstances. For example, a Kalgoorlie-Boulder water efficiency program was initiated because of a Western Australian political decision to make water prices uniform across the state despite huge differences in the cost of providing it. This meant that the Kalgoorlie-Boulder gold fields area in the eastern part of the state was paying the same water rate as Perth, even though the water was being transported across the state almost from Perth at a cost several times higher than for Perth. The water efficiency program included gifts of efficient appliances to people living in the area, but produced a less than optimal economic solution.

The quiet week between terms

I'm back, after a couple of days away, and want to thank my colleague Barbara Elve for putting out Daily Bulletins in my absence late last week. On my desk, as I return, is an announcement that the joint health and safety committee will be checking out working conditions here in Needles Hall tomorrow. "Annual inspections of the workplace by the UW Joint Health & Safety Committee are a requirement of the Occupational Health & Safety Act of the province."

Can't say today's showers thrill me, but perhaps spring will come -- and at least we haven't had the kind of water that's hit some places. Try the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks, for instance, in the centre of the newsmaking Red River flooding. (I note with interest that a mainframe computer, rescued from floodwaters at Grand Forks, has been "reassembled" at North Dakota State University at Fargo, with the result that 12,000 people who work in higher education across the state will have their paycheques processed on time.)

Today is the National Day of Mourning for workers killed and injured on the job. It's also the first day of campaigning towards the June 2 federal election, called yesterday by prime minister Jean Chrétien.


April 27, 1971: The Waterloo Chamber of Commerce submits a brief to the government complaining that the $125,000 cost of the University Avenue overpass is "improper use of the wealth of Ontario".

April 28, 1966: A joint committee is set up to study possible affiliation between the Ontario College of Optometry and the University of Waterloo. April 28, 1977: A draw for the new "Wintario" lottery is held in the Humanities Theatre.

Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@watserv1.uwaterloo.ca -- (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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