551 Nunavut gov't employees earn 6 figure salaries, report reveals

Over 550 Government of Nunavut employees earn more than $100,000 a year in base salary, according to documents received by CBC in response to an Access to Information request.

Number represents nearly 12 per cent of Nunavut's territorial government workforce

551 employees in the Government of Nunavut earn over $100,000 in base salaries, according to a document obtained by CBC. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

Over 550 Government of Nunavut employees earn more than $100,000 per year in base salary, according to documents received by CBC in response to an Access to Information request.

That represents 11.5 per cent of the government workforce.

CBC News filed an Access to Information request for public servant salary ranges over $100,000 as of April 1, 2017. The resulting document returned 551 names, titles, and their minimum and maximum salary ranges.

The top earning bureaucrats in the Nunavut Government were the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and the Deputy Minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, both of which earn a base salary range of $159,008 to $227,154.

The Department of Health had the most employees with a salary range over $100,000, with 133, while the Nunavut Business Credit Corporation brought up the rear, with just two employees earning six figure salaries.

Most of the employees on the list's top end salary range fell between $100,000 and $149,000, with only 16 people landing at potential salaries exceeding $200,000 or more.

Government backpedalling on salary disclosure

In Sept. 2016, then-Deputy Minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs Chris D'Arcy said the Government of Nunavut was working on salary disclosure legislation

D'Arcy was testifying before a Legislative Assembly standing committee on the annual report from the Access to Information and Privacy Commissioner.

"We're looking now at what the most appropriate salary disclosure would be for Nunavut. I would hope that by the time we introduce the legislation, we will also have our heads around how we want to provide that disclosure," he said.

In 2016, then-Deputy Minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, Chris D'Arcy, said the territory was working on legislation to disclose employees' salaries. So far, nothing has materialized. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)
D'Arcy told CBC News at the time that the floor for salary disclosure could be slightly higher than $100,000 in Nunavut, and that 
he hoped the legislation would be included in other legislation introduced in 2017.

So far, no "sunshine list" legislation has come into effect — and it appears the Government of Nunavut has stopped work on it.

"Although the Government of Nunavut is evaluating the possibility of publishing a 'sunshine list,' no decision has yet been made on whether to proceed and, if so, what information would be included," said Department of Finance spokesperson Denise Grandmaison in an email to CBC.

"Sunshine lists are sensitive topics, especially in smaller jurisdictions where the government needs to balance transparency with personal privacy considerations."

Personal gossip vs systemic change

The "sunshine list" started in Ontario under Premier Mike Harris to keep government small, according to Carleton economics professor Frances Woolley.

But it appears to have had an opposite effect.

There are some people who think publicizing the salaries of CEOs and senior executives have contributed to the phenomenal rise in salary growth in recent decades, said Woolley.

Carleton professor Frances Woolley says that without proper context, a sunshine list could have drawbacks, and can lead to 'personal gossip,' rather than effective change. (Carelton University website)
Woolley said the list can lead to "personal gossip," rather than effective change, if context isn't included, like wage disparities between men and women or Inuit and non-Inuit — information that was not included in the list provided to CBC.

There are other drawbacks of making such a list public, Woolley said, such as the morale impacts in revealing salary disparities between individuals in the same position.

"If there are salary differentials like that and they're revealed by the sunshine list, it can be very demoralizing for people who are experiencing a salary anomaly," she said.

"The question is how to take the information and make it something other than personal gossip. Make it information that people can use to make better decisions to improve the governance of Nunavut," said Woolley.

Number of employees earning over $100,000 per year, by department
Community and Government Services 83
Culture and Heritage 14
Economic Development and Transportation 31
Environment 32
Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs 23
Family Services 54
Finance 20
Health 133
Justice 51
Nunavut Arctic College33
Nunavut Business Credit Corporation2
Nunavut Housing Corporation30
Office of the Legislative Assembly9