If the Sunshine List were a sporting event, Pan Am Games executives would rank highly in the standings, taking four of the list's top 10 spots with salaries soaring past $750,000.

On Thursday, the Wynne government found itself defending the salaries of the Pan Am staff, 10 of whom were paid more during 2015 than the premier herself, topping $300,000 in salaries and benefits. For her part, Wynne earned $208,974 last year.

"When you run an international event, you have to run it with the very best people you can find and pay the price that international events have to pay," said Treasury Board President Deb Matthews, who also serves as deputy premier..

"I never compare to the premier because as we all know, she's vastly underpaid."

In all, 68 Pan Am employees made it onto the Sunshine List, which documents all Ontario public sector employees making $100,000 annually.

The latest list is more than 115,000 names long — six volumes of names with six-figure and in some cases seven-figure salary numbers attached to each one of them. To explore the list in detail, see our searchable database here:

"What for me was important is that they came in under budget and they were an outstandingly successful games," Matthews said.

BMX Pan Am 20150711

Pan Am Games executives dominated this year,taking four of the Sunshine list's top ten spots, with salaries soaring past a quarter of a million dollars. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Pan Am's top earners included: 

  • Senior vice president and chief financial officer Barbara Gail Anderson, who clocked in at $844,754.92.
  • Sports and venue management executive vice president Allen Vansen, making $802,079.83.
  • Human resources senior vice president Karen Hacker, who made $789,880.64
  • Katherine Henderson, Senior vice president of marketing and revenue Katherine Henderson, who was paid $762,996.71.

In November, officials said the price tag for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games fell within the $2.4-billion budget, making organizers eligible for lucrative bonuses laid out in their contracts.

Spending for the Games — particularly when it comes to executive compensation — has been under scrutiny for years, with both opposition parties voicing concerns about what they consider a lack of financial transparency.

Complaints over 2015's executive expenses emerged long before last year's games began and a second budget was discovered for the event.

The province said in 2013 that the original $1.44-billion budget didn't include the $700-million cost of building the athletes' village or $10 million for the provincial Pan Am secretariat. The numbers released in November priced the athletes' village at $683 million and allocated $43 million to the secretariat.

Two years ago, the province ordered the organizing committee to tighten its expense rules after some of its well-paid executives, including the committee's former president and CEO Ian Troop, billed taxpayers for items such as a 91-cent parking fee and $1.89 cup of tea.

On Thursday, Matthews was resolute.

"I'm enormously proud of the Pan Am games. The people were paid what they were paid," she said.

With files from The Canadian Press