Hospital association head defends CEO salaries

The head of the Ontario Hospital Association says a cap on the salaries of hospital CEOs could hinder the province's ability to attract top administrators.

The head of the Ontario Hospital Association says a cap on the salaries of hospital CEOs could impair their ability to attract top administrators.

Full Metro Morning interview

Click here to listen to Matt Galloway's entire interview with Ontario Hospital Association president Tom Closson.

Tom Closson made the comments Wednesday in an interview on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, hosted by Matt Galloway.

"This province has a $16-billion deficit," said Closson. "We need the best leaders we can get."

This week the OHA advised hospitals to make public the contracts of their CEOs. Many of the hospitals posted the entire contracts of their executives online. CBC News has posted links to many of those contracts here.

The salaries of hospital CEOs have long been public information, disclosed each year on the province’s so-called sunshine list. But this week’s disclosure went further, outlining such perks as generous car allowances, money for golf club memberships and benefits for cosmetic plastic surgery.

Those perks come on top of annual salaries that range from $300,000 to $800,000.  

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has suggested hospital CEO salaries be capped at $418,000, which is twice the salary of the premier.

Salary cap is 'pretty arbitrary'

Closson, however, said the high salaries are needed to attract and retain top hospital administrators.

"The NDP suggestion is pretty arbitrary and certainly it’s political," he said. "The savings you would make from capping CEO salaries is $3.7 million, we spend $23 billion in hospitals in this province. You’d likely not be able to attract the same calibre of people to go into the CEO stream in this province."

"The more important question is: what value do we get from spending the money on leaders? We feel very strongly that you have to have good leaders if you want to make the system work better."

Closson also said hospital administrators in the United States often earn much more than their Canadian counterparts.