07/21/2014 04:17 EDT | Updated 09/20/2014 05:59 EDT

B.C. university salary caps exceeded by millions, says NDP

Salary caps at B.C. post-secondary institutions are being exceeded by millions of dollars per year, according to figures released Monday by David Eby, the B.C. NDP's advanced education critic.

Eby obtained the stated salary ranges for three B.C. institutions from the Public Sector Employer's Council (PSEC) — Capilano University, University of the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island University — and compared them to the required executive compensation reports of each institution's highest paid five executives from 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The figures showed that between them, the executives were paid almost $1.1 million over the stated caps, suggesting, Eby says, that there could well be a lot more money being paid out over the top of stated salary ranges at other B.C. post-secondary institutions.

"So we wrote to [PSEC] and said, 'What the heck is going on? Why is this so far beyond, and why are people getting raises?'", Eby says. "Eight of nine executives that we had full salary information for got raises."

The agency did not respond, Eby says.

He also says that a request he made to Advanced Education minister Amrik Virk for details of the caps in every B.C. post-secondary institution was initially responded to with a promise to supply the information, but was followed up months later with a refusal.

"We got no response from the agency," Eby says. "And then we got a letter from the minister saying that the caps themselves were secret and he had said he could give us the caps, but he wasn't going to give them to us anymore."

In the letter from Virk, provided to CBC by Eby, the minister says that while government "establishes a framework for total compensation limits for the CEOs and presidents of the majority of public-sector employers", they do not make them public in order to 'avoid their becominga floor in negotiations between boards and prospective CEOs".

Last month, the B.C. NDP called for Amrik Virk's resignation after a government investigation revealed the minister's involvement in deliberately skirting disclosure rules to give what amounted to a $50,000 signing bonus to an incoming senior executive at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

And education isn't the only area where executives have been found to receive extra compensation. Just last week, the Royal BC Museum in Victoria had its budget cut by $50,000 by government — almost the exact amount of an un-approved signing bonus given to their new CEO when he was hired in 2012.

See the spreadsheet detailing the salaries exceeding the institution's caps

Read the full letter from Advanced Education minister Amrik Virk to David Eby