Sunshine list swells under Liberals
The number of Ontario public servants making $100,000 a year or more has grown by 727% since the Liberals gained government in 2003.
It is now routine to see teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses, paramedics, school “caretaking team leaders” and the like in the six-figure-salary club.
“We know that a $100,000 salary is a lot of money and that the people of Ontario have a right to know how their dollars are being spent; at the same time, we know our public servants provide high quality public services and we value their hard work,” Treasury Board President Liz Sandals said in a statement Friday on the release of the annual Sunshine List. “The $100,000 threshold has not changed since the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act was enacted in 1996 and has not been adjusted to keep up with inflation.”
“If the salary threshold were adjusted for inflation, it would be $149,424 in today’s dollars — reducing the number of employees included in the compendium by 84%,” she said.
The 2016 tally for Ontario public sector salaries and benefits is almost $16 billion.
In 2003, when the Liberal government assumed power, there were 14,926 people who made the annual Sunshine List. By 2016 that number had grown to 123,410 people.
These comparisons included Ontario Power Generation (OPG) employees but not Hydro One workers.
For several years during that 13-year period, public sector workers and their bosses were under an official pay freeze as the government battled growing debt.
At the same time, inflation averaged 1.71% annually, so that you would have needed $124,635 in 2016 dollars to buy what a $100,000 salary did in 2003.
“The Sunshine List has continued to grow, despite it no longer including hundreds of employees at the now private Hydro One. The top earner on the list was Ontario Power Generation CEO Jeff Lyash who made $1.16 million,” Canadian Taxpayers Federation Ontario Director Christine Van Geyn said in a statement. “When many Ontarians struggle to keep their lights on, it really rubs people the wrong way to see the head of OPG earning over seven figures, let alone the other 7,729 OPG employees on the list.”
As hospitals laboured under flat-lined budgets, some of the top execs brought home a healthy paycheque.
Catherine Zahn, the president/CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), for instance, took home $672,731, while University Health Network (UHN) President/CEO Peter Pisters was paid $753,992.
The take home of Toronto District School Board teachers was creeping up on and, in some cases, passing those of principals.
TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird said there were a number of reasons why the salary of some teachers topped $100,000, including working at summer or night school, or holding a position such as program coordinator.
Meanwhile, the Fraser Institute’s most recent comparison of private and public sector compensation found those working for the government enjoyed a 13.4% wage premium on average.
Also, 82.1% of Ontario government workers have a registered pension plan. And for 97% of those workers, it’s a defined benefit pension plan.
Over in the private sector, just 25.2% of workers have a registered pension plan and, of those plans, only 45.1% are defined benefit.
Public sector workers also tended to take more sick time and retire earlier than their counterparts in the private sector, Fraser Institute noted.
WHAT THOSE IN CHARGE EARNED IN 2016
Premier Kathleen Wynne: $208,974 (pop. 13.98M)
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti: $187,882 (pop. 329,000)
Toronto Mayor John Tory: $184,666 (pop. 2.8M)
Richmond Hill Mayor David Barrow: $180,958 (pop. 195,000)
Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua: $179,029 (pop. 298,000)
Oakville Mayor Rob Burton: $171,943 (pop. 194,000)
Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey: $110,968 (pop. 594,000)
(Source: 2017 Ontario Public Salary Disclosure)