In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Ontario government has released the 2019 public sector salary disclosure — the so-called Sunshine List — that identifies public servants earning $100,000 or more.
While some might question the wisdom of releasing the information — 11 days early last Friday afternoon — when so many people are struggling financially as a result of illness, layoffs and job loss because of COVID-19, Treasury Board president Peter Bethlenfalvy acknowledged while this information release is not the province's priority, transparency and accountability to taxpayers remain commitments of his government.
“Our government’s priority is the health and safety of all Ontarians and we are singularly focused on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bethlenfalvy, who is himself in isolation with symptoms of the virus. “However, our government has also made commitments to the people of Ontario on transparency, accountability and respecting their tax dollars.”
“We have taken positive steps and seen real results, but we must continue working hard to ensure each dollar spent gets the best results for Ontarians,” he said in a statement.
This year, nearly 167,000 workers, including hospital executives, bureaucrats, teachers and police officers, made the list that increases annually mainly due to inflation. Last year’s list included 151,197 public servants, marking a 10.4 per cent increase this year.
In Newmarket, employees at Southlake Regional Health Centre and the Regional Municipality of York are among the top paid in the public sector, according to the 2019 Sunshine List.
At Southlake Regional Health Centre, there are 439 employees are on the list, topped by:
- executive vice-president, COO and regional vice-president Helena Hutton took home $469,060 and $2,259 in taxable benefits, and president and CEO Arden Krystal earned $444,960 and $10,228 in taxable benefits.
- pathologists Handy Shaheda made $319,347, Charles Ye $315,631, Hannah Wu $314,012 and Syed Kazimi $308,858.
- vice-president of capital, facilities and business development Rick Gowrie Rick earned $280,644, CFO and vice-president Robert Bull Robert earned $246,217, and chief strategy and communications officer Tyler Chalk earned $214,500.
The list includes 10,128 public sector employees at the Regional Municipality of York, topped by:
- CAO Bruce Macgregor, who took home $320,305 and $13,820 in taxable benefits, while chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson earned $225,789 and $17,909 in taxable benefits.
- Medical officer of health Dr. Karim Kurji earned $280,530 and $13,521 in taxable benefits.
- commissioner community and health services Katherine Chislett made $238,558 and $12,394 in taxable benefits, commissioner corporate services Dino Basso made $236,894 and $12,318 in taxable benefits, commissioner environmental services Erin Mahoney made $236,894 and $12,318 in taxable benefits, regional solicitor Joy Hulton earned $233,626 and $12,318, commissioner transportation services Paul Jankowski earned $232,537 and $15,098 in taxable benefits, commissioner finance and treasurer Laura Mirabella was paid $211,633 and $12,274 in taxable benefits.
- York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe earned $326,748 and $13,394 in taxable benefits, Deputy Chief and incoming chief Jim MacSween made $209,003 and $12,005 in taxable benefits, Paramedic Services Chief Chris Spearen earned $170,283.
The list included 185 employees above the six-figure threshold at the Town of Newmarket, including:
- community services commissioner Ian McDougall and commissioner of development and infrastructure services Peter Noehammer each at $204,518.61
- chief administrative officer Jagdeep Sharma, who joined the town last May, earned $200,258 and $10,449 in taxable benefits.
- commissioner of corporate services Armchuk Esther took home $198,753, while Newmarket Public Library CEO Todd Kyle took home $163,494.
- Central York Fire Services Fire Chief Ian Laing Ian earned $181,660 and $3,160 in taxable benefits.
- Mayor John Taylor earned $156,512 and $8,645 in taxable benefits, while Deputy Mayor and Regional Councillor Tom Vegh earned $115,442 and $6,747 in taxable benefits.
At the head of the provincial government, Premier Doug Ford made $208,974, while Deputy Premier, Minister of Health and Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott made $165,851, as did Minister of Transportation and York-Simcoe MPP Caroline Mulroney.
York Region District School Board director of education Louise Sirisko took home $295,803 and York Catholic District School Board director of education Albert Falconi $235,199.
The highest-paid civil servant on the 2019 Sunshine List is the former Ontario Power Generation president and CEO Jeffrey Lyash, who made $938,845.
Introduced in 1996 by former Conservative premier Mike Harris, the threshold for inclusion has never been adjusted.
The equivalent of $100,000 in 1996 would have been $152,670 last year, according to the Bank of Canada.