The annual ‘sunshine list’ of six-figures-and-up earners on the provincial payroll included 111,440 people last year, marking a 13.9 per cent increase.
Many become outraged each year with the thought of ever-climbing public sector salaries, including annual paycheques of more than $1 Million in some cases.
For your frustration - the former chief financial officer of Ontario Power Generation, Donn Hanbidge, was fired after a 2013 auditor general’s report which highlighted problems within the utility. Still, Mr. Hanbidge received a tidy sum of $1.208 Million, including severance.
Created in 1996 as a government effort for transparency and culpability, the sunshine list is growing at a staggering rate. With money tight all-over, let’s consider why. Perhaps in some cases, the sunshine list warrants another look, before the pitchforks and torches come out.
Inflation is a major factor in why the sunshine list continues to swell, and why it might not be fair to the names it highlights. The symbolic $100,000 figure, from almost a generation ago, is worth $145,046 today, according to the Ontario consumer price index. Conversely, $100,000 today is the equivalent of $70,260 in 1996. If the threshold had kept pace with inflation, there would be 19,260 public servants on the list this year - the number who cleared $145,046.
Another issue is that we learn the salary and taxable benefits of each employee, but not the hours or conditions they worked in. If a rough count of hours worked was included, it would be easier for the public to tell who cashed in just for showing up time to time - and who slaved away to earn their pay.
If the sunshine list is an effort in honesty, let’s make it go both ways.