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Financial Sustainability

Universities proposing new joint pension plan

[University Pension Plan town hall at Grant Hall]
Approximately 300 members of the Queen's community attended a town hall session on the University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP) in Grant Hall on Thursday, Nov. 22. (University Communications)

Queen’s University is working with the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph with the goal of launching a new jointly sponsored pension plan for the Ontario university sector. If given the go-ahead, it would follow the same successful structure as some of the largest and most financially-successful pensions in Canada, such as the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS).

The new plan would be known as the University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP), and if approved by the universities’ current pension plan members, will ensure Queen’s can continue to provide sustainable defined retirement benefits to their employees in the future.

Approximately 300 people attended a town hall session in Grant Hall on Thursday, Nov. 22, where they heard from pension experts Allan Shapira and Elizabeth Brown, who have been presenting information on the proposed UPP at town halls at all three universities.

In recent years, there has been a trend across all sectors away from offering defined benefit pension plans. At the same time, years of low interest rates, volatile investment markets, and rising life expectancy have led to funding shortfalls and climbing contribution rates for university pension plans.

“Traditional defined benefit pension plans face significant sustainability pressures,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration), who hosted the Queen’s town hall session. “The status quo for existing university pension plans cannot be sustained over the long-term. Some form of change is both necessary and inevitable.”

More information sessions
Queen’s University is holding additional information sessions for all employees and pensioners on the pension plan proposal. Members will be part of a consent process that is expected to begin in early 2019.
Friday, Nov. 30 - All - 10 am-Noon - Grant Hall
Friday, Nov. 30 - QUFA - 2-4 pm - Grant Hall
Friday, Dec. 14* - Pensioners 1-2:30 pm - Ellis Auditorium
*note: This session will be incorporated into the Queen’s University Pension Plan Annual General Meeting.
You will find details of the UPP plan design, information on upcoming events, and have an opportunity to submit questions on the UPP website. Additional information can be found on the Queen’s University Pension Services page.

University administrations believe that the proposed UPP is the best way to protect plan members’ existing accrued benefits while ensuring the survival and long-term sustainability of a defined benefit plan, in a world where there are fewer and fewer such plans.

Jointly sponsored pension plans (JSPPs) are recognized globally as a proven model that can generate higher-return and more stable investment opportunities by pooling funds across a larger membership base. They also provide greater transparency into plan operations, funding and decision-making through joint governance and open information sharing. JSPPs have come to be known as the “Canadian Model” and research has shown that it has led to efficiency and success though an alignment around the shared interest of serving plan beneficiaries.

The Ontario Government and stakeholders at the three universities broadly support the move to a new model and are committed to working together. On Nov. 15, Ontario Finance Minister, Victor Fedeli, released A Plan for the People: Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review (the Fall Economic Statement).  In it, the government stated that it is committed to improving the pension system for the university sector, and that a jointly sponsored plan can help achieve that goal through efficiencies of scale, improved investment opportunities, and savings in plan administration.

If members agree, the creation of the UPP will involve the merger of the existing pension plans at the University of Toronto, University of Guelph, and Queen’s University into a new plan. All pension benefits earned prior to the start of the UPP would be protected, and pension benefits of retired members would not change.

“The UPP offers the best approach to protect members’ existing accrued benefits, reduce volatility in contribution levels, and create a long-term, jointly-governed, financially-sustainable defined benefit plan for our employees,” says Vice-Principal Janiec.

Once created, the UPP will be open to other Ontario universities to join, eventually creating a sector-wide plan and an even larger pool, which will mean greater efficiencies, investment opportunities and better sharing of pension costs and risks.

To help ensure all plan members have the information they need to make an informed decision on the proposal when asked to participate in a consent process in early 2019, information has been shared with employees, made available online, and is being communicated at a series of informational town hall meetings on campus. Additional information will be sent to employees as part of the consent process.

“Engaging our employees about their pensions can be challenging,” says Vice-Principal Janiec. “People have varied familiarity with the terminologies being used. This information-sharing process is all about trying to demystify pensions and help people appreciate that everyone involved is working hard to adapt to the pressures facing our plans and to ensure future plan members’ benefits will be there for them when they choose to retire.”

November Town Halls will outline proposed pension plan changes

Queen’s University, University of Guelph and The University of Toronto, together with their faculty associations, the United Steelworkers (USW) and representatives of the non-unionized employees at the three universities (through the Ontario Association of Non-Unionized University Employees) are working diligently to develop a new pension plan to cover employees at all three universities, The University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP).

Queen’s University invites all pension plan members to attend one of the following Town Hall information session on the proposed changes:





November 22


10:30 am – 12:30 pm

Grant Hall 

November 30


10 am -12 pm

Grant Hall

November 30


2 pm - 4 pm 

Grant Hall

December 14*


1 pm – 2:30 pm

Ellis Auditorium (following the Queen’s Pension Plan AGM)

2017-18 Financial Statements approved by Board

The university's 2017-18 financial performance enabled investments in key priorities. 

The Queen’s Board of Trustees recently approved the university’s 2017-18 Financial Statements – a formal document which details how the university earned and spent its money in the last fiscal year.

As these Consolidated Financial Statements detail, during the 2017-18 fiscal year Queen's achieved a consolidated surplus of $74.9 million.

This surplus was primarily the result of higher than anticipated student enrolments in degree and non-degree programs, and also reflects the efforts of faculties and shared services to help the university manage its finances and plan for future strategic investments.  It also reflects anticipated surpluses to accommodate capital project financing.

“These financial results put us in good stead and will allow Queen's to make prudent investments into our strategic priorities,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “These include our faculty renewal plan which will see us hire 200 new faculty over five years; new diversity, inclusivity and reconciliation initiatives; and ongoing investments aimed at supporting research excellence across Queen's.”

As the statement outlines, Queen's is actively assessing and managing a number of ongoing financial risks. Along with other universities in the province, Queen's has a significant deferred maintenance backlog. Further, university revenues are largely decided by grant and tuition rates, which are controlled by the provincial and federal governments.

The university also continues to address its financially unsustainable pension plan as together with the University of Toronto, the University of Guelph and employee groups, we have designed a new jointly sponsored pension plan, the University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP). Once established, other Ontario universities will have the option of joining the UPP.

Ms. Janiec says these financial challenges are taken into account in the university’s operational plans and governance oversight. The senior leadership team continues to monitor and mitigate the risks to help manage Queen’s long-term financial competitiveness.

“Under the leadership of Principal Daniel Woolf, Queen's has worked hard over the past nine years to achieve a strong financial position and it is now serving us well,” says Ms. Janiec. “This coming year, we will open a new building on campus, Mitchell Hall. It will be a hub for wellness and innovation activities and, as with all things at Queen's, it will feature a seamless blend of our heritage and traditions with the latest modern thinking and design. It is a fitting symbol of the progress underway at our university and the bright future we are navigating towards together.

To read the Financial Statement 2017-18, visit the Financial Services website.

Tabling your furniture orders

A smoother process has been created for employees submitting furniture orders valued at less than $50,000.

[Queen's University Centre for Teaching and Learning chair furniture]
The Centre for Teaching and Learning's stylish office has been attracting plenty of attention from other university offices looking to spruce up their presentation. (University Communications)

Following a review of the furniture acquisition process, the University Secretariat and Legal Counsel, together with key stakeholders, has made a number of changes and improvements to the way staff can make their requests for a new filing cabinet, desk, chair, or a whole new office suite.

“The Queen’s community places thousands of furniture orders per year, so centralizing this contract means substantial time and cost savings for the university,” says Yvonne Holland, Director of Lease and Contract Management. “Under this new process, those seeking to place furniture orders now enjoy greater selection, lower costs, and faster turnaround. I want to thank all those who helped us investigate this challenge and create this new resource for the Queen’s community.”

Ms. Holland’s team inherited responsibility for this contract in the fall of 2017, and formed an interdepartmental team to study the issue. The team created a Request for Supplier Quote and, following the public tender, three vendors were selected in the spring.

As part of this new contract, the vendors are bringing new furniture options and a host of new furniture services to the Queen’s community. These include storage options, and drawing services to help plan out office layouts. In addition, annual report cards will be generated by Queen’s to log the performance of each vendor, and inform future purchases.

“At the library we are continuously updating our spaces based on our user needs and feedback. This new service package gives us greater choice in design, and offers price point comparisons from vendors," says Nancy Petri, Manager, Finance and Administrative Operations with the Library. "Services such as a quick ship also provide us with greater flexibility when time is of the essence. This new furniture acquisitions process helps us do an even better job of meeting the needs of the Queen’s community.”

The online furniture order forms can be found at www.queensu.ca/forms. Next, the team hopes to design a similar process for larger furniture orders, and roll out a furniture acquisition and installation toolkit.

If you have questions about this new process, or if you have a university lease or license agreement which you would like reviewed, please contact Yvonne Holland from the University Secretariat, Leasing and Contract Management at hollandy@queensu.ca or 613 533-6000 x77906.

Campus construction

Physical Plant Services to finish over 50 deferred maintenance, renovation, and revitalization projects this summer.

  • A construction team works on renovations to Mitchell Hall (Photo: PPS)
    A construction team works on renovations to Mitchell Hall (Photo: PPS)
  • A crane supports a construction worker on top of Fleming Hall (Photo: PPS)
    A crane supports a construction worker on top of Fleming Hall (Photo: PPS)
  • Workers outside of Jackson Hall work on refurbishments to the main entrance (Photo: PPS)
    Workers outside of Jackson Hall work on refurbishments to the main entrance (Photo: PPS)
  • Construction continues on Mitchell Hall (Photo: PPS)
    Construction continues on Mitchell Hall (Photo: PPS)
  • Stone restoration on Nicol Hall. (Photo: PPS)
    Stone restoration on Nicol Hall. (Photo: PPS)

While most students are away from campus for the summer, Physical Plant Services (PPS) takes the opportunity of clear weather and reduced foot traffic to tackle renovations, deferred maintenance, and revitalization projects. 

The teams at PPS have over 50 projects to finish before the start of classes. The work completed this summer contributes to the overall Queen’s infrastructure strategy, aiming to address $300 million worth of deferred maintenance in the next 10 to 12 years. These projects help modernize the campus with more sustainable and accessible infrastructure.

Projects can include classroom renovations, office renovations, kitchen upgrades, washroom upgrades, safety additions, roof maintenance, sprinkler replacements, masonry improvements, heating and cooling upgrades, fire alarm system upgrades, and elevator maintenance/upgrades. Some of the larger recent projects across campus include:

  • ARC: Administrative office renovations (second floor) and coach’s office renovations
  • Ban Righ Centre: Kitchen upgrade and elevator modernization
  • Chown Hall: Elevator modernization
  • Bio Sciences Complex: Minor laboratory renovations
  • Duncan McArthur Hall: Gender neutral single user washrooms and classroom renovations (second and third floors)
  • Goodes Hall: Renovations to the Career Advancement Centre
  • Harkness Hall: Supply and exhaust fan and heating system refurbishment
  • Jackson Hall: Main entrance stair refurbishment
  • John Watson Hall: Roof repairs
  • MacDonald Hall: Office and study area renovations and air conditioning system installation
  • McLaughlin Hall: New windows, improved entrances and ventilation, and renovated washrooms
  • Nicol Hall: Stone restoration
  • Stuart Street garage: Sprinkle system replacement
  • Robert Sutherland Hall: Room renovations (541, 542, 543, and 548)

PPS works with groups across campus to minimize the interruptions felt during renovation projects.

"Although many of the deferred maintenance projects do not result in visible changes to the campus, they are fundamental to ensure that the campus remains safe and able to accommodate the needs of occupants, buildings are operating as efficiently as possible, and we continue to improve accessibility throughout the campus,” says Carola Bloedorn, Director of Design and Construction with PPS. “For those inconvenienced as a result of these projects, we thank you for your understanding that sometimes there needs to be short term pain for long term gain.”

To find out more about these projects and learn which projects are ongoing in August, visit the PPS interactive map.

Creating the future workforce

NSERC’s CREATE Program supports Queen’s researchers in student training.

Two Queen’s University researchers are leading groups that have been awarded a combined $3.3 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) as part of their Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program to provide innovative training to students in the areas of photonics, and water sustainability.

The CREATE program will provide groups led by Queen’s associate professors James Fraser (Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy) and Stephen Brown (Chemistry) with support for the training of teams of highly qualified students through the development of innovative training programs, and facilitate the transition of new researchers from trainees to productive employees in the Canadian workforce.

“The CREATE program highlights the often inextricable link between research and student training,” says Jim Banting, Acting Vice-Principal (Research). “Impressively, Queen’s secured two of 18 CREATE grants distributed nationwide, and we look forward to seeing the unique and transferable learning and training opportunities presented to the undergraduates and graduate students who participate in the MAPS and LEADERS projects.”

Dr. Fraser will receive $1,649,185 over six years for his CREATE – Materials for Advanced Photonics and Sensing (CREATE-MAPS) project, which will provide 42 graduate students and 22 undergraduate students with comprehensive training designed to help them compete in a photonics industry that has been experiencing unprecedented international growth. Demand for photonic materials and their manufacturing – including novel light sources, optical sensors, and more – has grown from a $2.5 billion global industry in 2011, to a $10.9 billion industry in 2017.

Dr. Brown has been awarded $1,650,000 over six years for his Leaders in water and watershed sustainability (The LEADERS Project), which will bring 44 graduate students and 24 undergraduate students to the forefront of water research through interdisciplinary approaches to developing water-related science and policy. The project will ensure students develop the broad base of skills required of contemporary water professionals – including working with environmental samples and data, liaising with stakeholders and presenting expert information clearly, and working with sustainability programs and environmental assessments. Industry experts are predicting a five per cent annual growth in the $2 billion environmental consulting and services sector, with a demand for 500,000 new employees in the sector.

The NSERC CREATE grants were announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, at the Université de Sherbrooke in Sherbrooke, Québec on July 16.

For more information on the program and for a full list of recipients, please visit the NSERC website.

Updated: Campus Electricity Demand Reduction Notification - June 25-29, 2018

In order to reduce electricity costs and contribute to the sustainability of the province’s energy system, the university is once again participating in an electricity peak demand reduction program.

Due to high temperatures and humidity across the province, today (Friday, June 29) will be an electricity peak demand reduction day.

If a reduction is confirmed for July 2 while the university is closed in observance of Canada Day, buildings with conference or program bookings will be exempted from the reduction on this date. A separate notice will be issued on Tuesday morning to either confirm or cancel the reduction for July 3.

To learn more about the electricity peak demand reduction program, please visit the Queen’s Sustainability Office website. Those with questions may also contact Fixit at extension 77301 (internal), 613-533-6757 (external) or email.

Budget 2018-19 approved by Board

The new budget allocates new funding for research, accessibility, and faculty hires.

The Queen’s Board of Trustees recently approved the 2018-19 operating budget. This year’s plan will see the university deliver another balanced budget, while also investing in a range of strategic priorities.

“This budget once again affords us the ability to invest in major institutional priorities, such as faculty renewal, research excellence, and diversity and inclusivity,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “While we continue to face some pressures around our pension and facilities maintenance, the hard work of the last several years has provided stability and a promising future for Queen’s.”

After contributions to the pension reserve there is a budgeted deficit of $7.7 million, which is then offset by the drawdown of operating carryforward reserves resulting in a balanced budget.

While the majority of the budget allocations cover ongoing expenses including salaries, utilities, and building maintenance, the university has allocated some discretionary funds towards key institutional priorities.

Growing Our Community

In 2018-19, the university will continue recruiting new faculty as part of the Principal’s faculty renewal initiative. This plan calls for the hiring of 200 tenured or tenure-track faculty members over five years.
“The Principal’s faculty renewal plan represents an extraordinary opportunity to recruit faculty to Queen’s with diverse backgrounds, experiences and research areas,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “We have already been very successful in attracting talented and accomplished faculty members, allowing us to build on our research strengths, and foster diversity, inclusivity, and reconciliation.”

In response to a recent accessibility audit, this year’s budget also includes some funding dedicated to making campus more accessible. In addition to the annual funding dedicated to deferred maintenance, the university is allocating $250,000 to make accessibility improvements across campus.

This accessibility funding will also complement the three years of diversity and inclusivity funding that was announced as part of last year’s budget. The 2017-18 budget pledged $3 million over three years to foster inclusivity at Queen’s.

Research and Innovation

Recognizing the importance of Queen’s research, the 2018-19 budget makes a few specific and deliberate investments in Queen’s research strengths.

“Queen’s has a long history of pioneering discoveries and innovations that have shaped our knowledge and helped address some of the world’s deepest mysteries and most pressing questions,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Importantly, these new funds will help us build on our research strengths and continue to strengthen our research culture.”

Among the new investments is a Research Catalyst fund within the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio. This $600,000 annual fund will be used to support emerging and strategic research opportunities.

The budget also allocates $7 million to create a new Research Intensity fund. This annual fund is designed to support the indirect costs of conducting research, and addresses a recommendation stemming from the review of the budget model.

Financial Sustainability

There are many ongoing challenges which the university is addressing through targeted investments.

Queen’s continues to contribute to a pension reserve, while it remains in negotiations to create a new jointly sponsored pension plan for the Ontario university sector, along with partners at the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph.

Additionally, the institution has earmarked an additional $750,000 for facility repairs and upgrades. Queen’s will spend a total of $11.9 million on deferred maintenance in 2018-19.

Risks to the budget include the dependence on government grants and regulated tuition and market volatility affecting university investments. In addition, future investments will be required to support information technology and infrastructure renewal. These risks are being closely managed and mitigated, and incremental investments in infrastructure are being made to ensure sustainability.

Learn More

To see this year’s budget, visit queensu.ca/financialservices/publications

Tragic loss inspires new fellowship at Queen’s

William J. Henderson Foundation donates $1 million to fight interstitial lung disease in honour of Ruth Pattenden.

Ruth and David Pattenden were supposed to make a quick trip to the doctor’s office to get Ruth’s blood test results and then have lunch. Instead, Ruth was sent to Kingston General Hospital for more tests.

[David Pattenden]
David Pattenden announces a new fellowship in honour of his late wife Ruth, during an event hosted at the New Medical Building on Friday, June 1. (University Communications)

“We knew she had sensitive lungs but we didn’t think it was anything serious,” says David, who was married to Ruth for 54 years. “Once we went to the hospital, she was put in a room immediately. She never came home.”

Three weeks later on Aug. 25, 2016, she was taken off life support due to complications from interstitial lung disease.

To help prevent the same tragedy from happening to others, the Ruth Pattenden Fellowship in Interstitial Lung Disease is being launched at Queen’s, thanks to a $1 million gift from the William J. Henderson Foundation.

“I was completely unaware of the disorder and how serious it was until I went through the terrible experience of losing my wife,” says David, who is a director of the William J. Henderson Foundation. “The foundation wanted to fund research that would have a practical and immediate impact on clinical care of interstitial lung disease.”

The disease is characterized by progressive scarring of lung tissue which makes it difficult to breath. Once the scarring occurs, it is irreversible. Medication may slow the damage, but people never regain the full use of their lungs.

The fellowship provides doctors with special training to diagnose and treat people with the disease.   

Dr. Diane Lougheed, chair of the Division of Respirology in the Department of Medicine at Queen's University and Kingston Health Sciences Centre, says the fellowship will allow doctors to provide better care.

"This fellowship will allow us to provide comprehensive clinical training to respirologists wishing to develop special expertise in all aspects of interstitial lung disease – from diagnosis to management, across the continuum of care from the ambulatory clinic to the hospital setting, including the intensive care unit,” says Dr. Lougheed.

It was an easy decision for the William J. Henderson Foundation trustees to create this new fellowship. The organization has a long history of supporting medical research at Queen’s. The foundation was set up by Judge William Henderson, a 1938 Queen’s Arts grad who passed away in 2006. Judge Henderson was grateful to Queen’s and local hospitals for the high quality of medical care he received later in life when he encountered health problems. Ruth Pattenden and Judge Henderson were also very close friends.

“If the judge were alive today, he certainly would have wanted to fund research on the disease that killed Ruth,” says David, who has five degrees from Queen’s (Arts'67, MA'69, Law'71, MEd'74, LLD'03).

Anyone wishing to support the Ruth Pattenden Fellowship in Interstitial Lung Disease can make a donation through the Give to Queen’s website.

This article originally appeared on the Queen’s Alumni website.

Summer sustainability

Queen’s takes part in a provincial program to reduce stress on the electricity grid by scheduling shut downs of air conditioning during peak times.

Queen’s is once again participating in Ontario’s Electricity Peak Demand Management Program this summer as part of its commitment to financial and environmental sustainability. The university has participated in this program since 2012.

Some air conditioning systems on campus will have scheduled shut down periods on some afternoons between May and September to reduce the university’s use of electricity on the Kingston grid. Programs like this are common for large electricity users such as Queen’s.

Physical Plant Services (PPS) will issue weekly updates to provide advance notice of expected shutdowns. The updates will also be posted on the Gazette and emailed to building managers for distribution to staff. The program will shut down air conditioning in some campus buildings from 3 to 9 pm on especially hot days throughout May, June, July, August, and the first week of September. These times are meant to coincide with expected peaks in provincial demand for electricity. The university is expecting to save over $3.6 million for the 2017-18 fiscal year through participating in this peak demand program.

“Our participation in this program promotes a sustainable energy system in Ontario by reducing the need for the province to purchase additional power, or build new power generating facilities, which can have both financial and environmental costs,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “The university has also saved an estimated $10.8 million dollars by participating in the program since 2012.”

Air conditioning will not be turned off in buildings that have classes scheduled, and PPS will coordinate with Event Services to minimize the effects on conferences held on campus.

Staff may notice temperature increases during the shutdown time. PPS will attempt to mitigate this by cooling the buildings affected prior to shutdown periods. Anyone with health and safety concerns can contact PPS FIXIT at 613-533-6757 (or internally at extension 77301) or by email.

Find out more about the program on the Queen’s Sustainability website.


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