A total of 111,438 public sector workers in Ontario were paid more than $100,000 in 2014, according to details included in the so-called Sunshine List released this morning.
The annual sunshine list, which includes nurses, teachers, police and firefighters, in addition to provincial civil servants, grew by more than 13,600 workers over 2013.
Reporters are still poring through the six-volume report of big earners, but it appears Ontario Power Generation CEO Tom Mitchell topped the list again with $1.55 million in salary and benefits.
There are about 12,500 employees from OPG, Hydro One and their subsidiaries on the 2014 list, up by nearly 1,000 over 2013, when the auditor general warned those salaries were driving up electricity rates.
Premier Kathleen Wynne was paid just over $209,00 last year, up about $10,000 from 2013.
List introduced by Mike Harris
The Public Salary Disclosure Act requires organizations that receive public funding from the Province of Ontario to disclose annually the names, positions, salaries and total taxable benefits of employees paid $100,000 or more in a calendar year.
The act was brought in under the Mike Harris-led Progressive Conservative government in 1996. At the time, Harris said it served as an important check on the public payroll. If the list was adjusted for inflation since 1996, the real benchmark salary would now be around $145,000.
The act applies to organizations such as the Government of Ontario, Crown agencies, municipalities, hospitals, public health boards, school boards, universities, colleges, Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation, and other public sector employers who receive a significant level of funding from the provincial government.
Tom Mitchell, chief executive of Ontario Power Generation, topped last year's list with earnings of $1.71 million. Carmine Marcello, chief executive of Hydro One, brought in $728,570.
Premier Wynne said the government must pay for the high-quality public services it wants to provide.
"Many of the people on that list have been working in government, have been working in our transfer partnerships, for many, many years and are experienced people and we need to have that level of expertise," she said.
The New Democrats said Wynne did little to rein in salaries of public sector CEOs, which they want capped at $418,000 a year — double the premier's salary.
"Public sector CEOs have hit the jackpot in Ontario," said NDP finance critic Catherine Fife. "In the face of public service cuts, these bloated CEO salaries are a slap in the face to Ontarians."
The Progressive Conservatives warned the 14-per-cent jump in the number of people on the list — to 111,440 — when the government is refusing to fund pay hikes means there will be fewer teachers and nurses employed.
Other names on the 2014 sunshine list include:
- Hydro One CEO Carmine Marcello: $745,000
- Ontario Securities Commission chair and CEO Howard Wetston: $705,000
- Independent Electricity System Operator president and CEO Bruce Campbell: $695,000
- Robert Vinson, a radiologist at the Woodstock Hospital: $646,000
- Ontario Pension Board president and CEO Mark Fuller: $636,00
The six-volume report of big public sector earners, which includes nurses, teachers, police and firefighters in addition to civil servants, grew by over 13,600 from 2013. The government said most of the growth — 38 per cent, or 5,114 individuals —came from police and firefighters.
Sunshine plus inflation?
The Conservatives oppose raising the $100,000 threshold, which was first set when the sunshine list was created in 1996, while the NDP said government "should have the courage to have that conversation."
But Wynne said she had "no intention" of raising the threshold, which would rise to $145,000 if it was indexed to inflation, and would reduce the number of names on the list by nearly 83 per cent to just 19,260.
"One hundred thousand dollars is still a lot of money," she said.