Ontario public employees earning $100,000 or more tops 240,000

Ontario’s annual Sunshine List of public servants earning six figures has ballooned to a record 244,188 — mostly because of the number of teachers crossing the $100,000 mark, the provincial government said.

There were 38,536 more workers on the public sector salary disclosure from civil servants to transit staff, police, nurses and dozens of other occupations.

Fully 95 per cent of the increase was at school boards, where 35,453 teachers joined the list, which identifies all public employees earning $100,000 or more.

“The average salary for a teacher with 10 years or more experience has crossed over the $100,000 threshold leading to more teachers appearing,” said Richard Mullin, spokesman for Treasury Board President Prabmeet Sarkaria.

Educators can top $100,000 in other ways, including by teaching night school and summer school classes.

The president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association noted the threshold has not been adjusted for inflation since the Sunshine List was introduced more than two decades ago.

“So we should not be surprised to see an ever-increasing number of workers on the list,” Barb Dobrowolski told the Star, adding the government should not be “engaging in disingenuous media stunts and demonizing teachers and other public sector workers based on severely outdated criteria.”

Overall, the average salary on the list declined slightly, to $123,738 in 2021 from $125,870 in 2020.

With six weeks until the official start of the June 2 provincial election campaign, the list for 2021 was released Friday afternoon, a week earlier than required by law.

The biggest pay packets were found among senior executives at Ontario Power Generation, Metrolinx and in the hospital and health-care sectors.

The top four earned more than $1 million and include: OPG chief executive Kenneth Hartwick at $1.6 million, his chief strategy officer Dominique Miniere at $1.52 million, chief operations and chief nuclear officer Sean Granville with $1.06 million and chief projects officer Michael Martelli at $1.01 million .

In fifth spot was University Health Network chief executive Kevin Smith, whose purview includes Toronto General and Western hospitals, at $845,092 followed by chief executive Phil Verster of the Metrolinx transit agency, who earned $838,960.

Following them was Matthew Anderson, chief executive of the Ontario Health agency overseeing the province’s health-care system, with a salary of $826,000.

Eighth place went to Mark Fuller with his $805,247 salary at the Ontario Public Service Pension Board. Wrapping up the top 10 were Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health at Public Health Sudbury and Districts at $800,726, and Andy Smith, chief executive of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, who earned $799,615.

In 2020, there were almost 206,000 workers making $100,000 or more on the list, largely thanks to pandemic overtime for nurses and a rise in teacher salaries that doubled the number of educators earning more than the threshold.

Introduced in 1996 by former Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris to boost transparency, the $100,000 threshold has never been adjusted for inflation prompting critics to say the exercise is less and less relevant every year.

Successive Liberal and Tory governments, including Premier Doug Ford’s, have refused to index the figure over fears it could cause political problems for them.

“Maintaining the taxpayer threshold allows to do a year-over-year comparison,” said Mullin.

The Bank of Canada inflation calculator shows $100,000 in 1996 would be the equivalent of $157,662 in 2021. Conversely, $100,000 last year was equal to $63,427 in 1996.

And the $15 minimum wage at full-time hours in Ontario is $30,000 annually.

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