Toronto

Ontario deputy ministers' enjoy 14% pay bump in recent years, but PCs say blame the Liberals

Some top bureaucrats in Ontario are getting a pay bump, with the chance of making even more if they hit certain performance targets.

Deputy ministers' minimum annual salary now $234K

The pay bump for deputy ministers comes months after the Ford government tabled legislation that caps public sector wage increases. That legislation hasn't passed yet. (Mike Crawley/CBC)

Some top bureaucrats in Ontario are getting a pay bump, with the chance of making even more if they hit certain performance targets.

According to published orders-in-council, the minimum salary for deputy ministers has gone up 14 per cent since 2016.

The current Progressive Conservative government says most of that increase happened under the previous Liberal government, and says it's tightening the rules around salary increases to tie them to performance.

"Under the previous government, deputy ministers received automatic salary increases regardless of performance. Our government has stopped that practice and implemented a judicious system of modest increases based on performance evaluation," Kayla Iafelice, director of media relations for the premier's office, told CBC Toronto in an email.

Orders-in-council show the minimum salary for deputies was $205,000 on Apr. 1, 2016, and jumped to $234,080 on Oct. 1, 2017. An order-in-council dated Sept. 26, 2019, shows that minimum staying the same. Government officials confirmed Thursday the maximum salary has gone up about 2 per cent since Oct. 1, 2017, when it was $320,130, to $326,560.

CBC Toronto initially reported that the minimum salary jump represented a hefty 14 per cent increase.

When first asked about the increase, the PC government responded by saying: "The Public Sector Leadership Compensation Strategy ends the practice of automatic pay increases for public sector leaders, and ties compensation to performance, only recognizing leaders who deliver better outcomes for Ontarians."

The statement went on to say: "No additional funding is being provided and costs will be managed within existing allocations. This ensures that any compensation adjustments are more than offset by efficiencies and savings."

The statement did not address the 14 per cent bump.

After the story was first published, the government provided further information, including a detailed outline of pay bumps between 2016 and 2017. Government officials also clarified that pay bumps were aimed at bringing all deputies onto the same pay scale.

Deputy ministers, who are senior leaders within the non-partisan Ontario Public Service, provide policy advice and other support to elected officials. 

It's been just over four months since the government introduced legislation, not yet passed, that caps public sector wage increases at an average of one per cent annually for the next three years.

The legislation, called the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, was tabled by the majority Progressive Conservatives on June 5. It includes teachers and staff at post-secondary institutions and hospitals, and would affect unionized and non-unionized workers.

The PCs had previously frozen the salaries of public sector executives who earn more than $100,000.

Clarifications

  • This story has been significantly updated on Thursday after Government of Ontario officials provided more information to CBC Toronto.
    Oct 17, 2019 3:30 PM ET

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said deputy ministers were getting a 14 per cent pay increase. In fact, that increase has been gradually introduced since 2016.
    Oct 16, 2019 6:20 PM ET

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