September , 1999
As APEGGA becomes involved in additional programs and becomes more proactive on behalf of Members, it is inevitable that the President will be called upon to devote more personal time to the affairs of the Association. Naturally, the burden of this will vary between Presidents based on place of residence and personal style of doing business. The governance model clearly delineates between the responsibilities of the President and staff. However, the President remains the prime representative and spokesperson for APEGGA and, as activity increases, will be called upon more and more frequently to represent the professions. It could be said, as well, that additional functions and meetings could be attended if sufficient time were available.
A review of the year 1998 shows that the President devoted 71.5 week days and 23.5 weekend days, plus 21 week nights and 16 weekend nights to his duties. This represents 42 per cent of a normal work year, 21 per cent of weekends and 36 per cent of all evenings. In addition, the President participates, to a greater or lesser degree, in the preparation of speeches and presentations for President's visits to branches, speaking engagements, university lectures, Council and other meetings, national meetings and the monthly President's Notebook in The PEGG. Liaison with the Executive Director is almost on a daily basis and very few days go by without the exchange of several e-mails between the two.
It is not a matter of determining fair compensation for this contribution to the affairs of the Association, but rather to fairly recognize the value of this contribution to the professions and our Association. Does this important position merit some recognition by way of honorarium and, if so, what might be considered a reasonable benefit?
Placing Value Difficult
It is extremely difficult to place a value on the intangible costs associated with the position, such as incidental travel expense and personal expenses incurred due to being away from home. There has been no attempt to place a value on the personal and family time required or disruption to the family schedule. On the other hand, there are certain benefits, such as frequent travel (benefit or cost?), the opportunity to see the country and meet a large number of very interesting people and, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to contribute to the important business of the professions both provincially and nationally. None of our Presidents has expressed any regrets at having accepted the position and virtually all have enjoyed their time as President. But it must also be remembered that APEGGA is changing and the demands on the President are doing likewise.
It remains, therefore, to consider what has been the practice of other comparable associations. Accordingly, a survey was conducted among sister associations across Canada and of professional associations in Alberta. It must also be recognized that the degree of difficulty and responsibility varies between associations. Consideration must be given to regulatory responsibility versus advocacy, since many associations are involved primarily in services to members and salary negotiations.
Only one provincial association, Quebec, provides any form of compensation to the President. Several of the others have considered or are considering doing so and have expressed interest in the results of this study as a basis for consideration of their own case. All associations provide compensation for out-of-pocket and travel expenses.
Interestingly, all associations within Alberta covered by our survey provide some form of recognition for their president. While the amounts may be readily available from these associations, I do not have authority to release the actual numbers. I can say only that they vary from nominal honorariums or miscellaneous expense allowances, to honorariums plus per diem allowances, to substantial honorariums plus living expenses and vehicle allowances. These depend, of course, on the role that the positions demand in each case. Amounts vary from $7,000 to in excess of $100,000 plus benefits for what is a full time paid position.
The amount is not the real question here. What needs to be addressed is whether or not the position of President of APEGGA holds such stature as to warrant some form of recognition by way of financial compensation and whether potentially good presidents are being denied the opportunity to serve. Should provision be made to provide for reimbursement of lost salary or income due to time devoted to APEGGA business, and should the employers be reimbursed in some way or should they be expected to absorb any costs as a contribution to the profession as many have done in the past?
More importantly, it must be considered whether or not the lack of compensation is a deterrent to Members offering themselves for candidacy or whether employers are reluctant to support employees for the amount of time required. For Members who are self-employed the immediate cost is direct and more easily quantifiable. However, the long-term cost in terms of lost business and goodwill is more difficult to define. The records will show that nominations have been refused in the past due to such considerations. What is not determined is the impact that some form of compensation might have in alleviating this problem.
A review of Past Presidents shows a wide array of situations, varying from those who were retired or semi-retired at the time to those who were self-employed or were employed and received the support of their employer to serve as President. To some employers there may be a perceived benefit derived from the prestige of having an employee elected as President of the Association whereas others may simply be willing to absorb the contribution required. Self- employed members clearly accept the position at a cost to themselves which would serve as a serious deterrent to many potential candidates.
On the other hand, the situation with other professional groups within Alberta indicates that virtually all associations provide some form of compensation for the president and APEGGA seems to be clearly out of step. It should be noted that no effort was made to compare the time devoted to official duties by the presidents of the other associations. However, for those associations that provide an annual form of compensation, the demands would appear to be somewhat equivalent to the case at APEGGA. Variances in the amount of compensation provided would seem to be dependent on whether or not the president is self-employed and therefore incurs a direct loss of income.
Strong opinions on this subject were expressed at the Annual General Meeting held in Calgary in April and others have expressed their views directly to members of Council and in The PEGG. Undoubtedly many others will come forward over the coming months to offer their views and advice to Council so that this matter can be concluded appropriately.
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