Kitchener-Waterloo

Ontario budget will include 'hard cap' on public executive salaries

The Ontario Liberals say they will be introducing hard salary caps for public sector executive salaries in the upcoming spring budget amid opposition criticism following the release of the annual sunshine list, which revealed 111,438 public sector workers in Ontario were paid more than $100,000 in 2014.

MPP Daiene Vernile says compensation review is underway

The Sunshine List discloses the salaries of public servants who work for organizations that receive money from the Ontario provincial government and who earn more than $100,000 a year. (CBC)

The Ontario Liberals say they will be introducing hard salary caps for public sector executive salaries in the upcoming spring budget amid opposition criticism following the release of the annual sunshine list, which revealed 111,438 public sector workers in Ontario were paid more than $100,000 in 2014.

Kitchener Centre Liberal MPP Daiene Vernile says her party had already been looking into the issue prior to the release of the sunshine list last Friday.

"Deb Matthews, our treasury board president, is now looking at these compensations," said Vernile. "She is conducting a review of the executive salaries in the public sector, and what we're going to see is hard cap, so look for that in the upcoming budget."

"We're absolutely aware of it, and we are taking action," added Vernile.

Last December, the provincial government passed Bill 8, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, which proposed to authorize the collection of compensation information and create sector-specific frameworks, including hard salary caps.

However, Kitchener-Waterloo NDP MPP Catherine Fife says the implementation of a hard salary cap is long overdue.

"The premier of course has not acted on a hard cap because we've seen actually 181 individuals on this list earn twice the premier's salary," said Fife. "So we're calling into question that there's no oversight on CEO public sector salaries and clearly the premier is not committed to moving forward on that file."

Liberals 'not serious'

Kitchener-Conestoga PC MPP Michael Harris also pointed out the salary of Ontario Power Generation CEO Tom Mitchell as an example of fiscal irresponsibility.

"It's clear that these increases right across the board, show that the Wynne Liberals are not serious about meeting their deficit reduction targets nor do they appear to be concerned," said Harris.

"Take for instance the Ontario Power Generation CEO made $1.55 million last year. Something that I hear from my constituents is that their hydro bills continue to go up and up and up, and here's another reason why."

While Vernile insists the Liberals are taking action on implementing hard salary caps, she also pointed out the challenge the government faces in attracting good talent, and that competitive salaries have to be taken into account.

"When you look at the level of responsibility and what's at stake when you've got somebody in one of these jobs, and say what the private sector might be paying, this is what has to be considered." said Vernile

For now, Fife says the NDP has asked for a cap to be set at $418,000.

"That's twice the salary of the premier," said Fife. "You've got to set the benchmark at some place because what is reasonable to one person is clearly not reasonable to another."

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