Sunshine List blinds taxpayers

Opinion Apr 06, 2016 Independent Free Press

When former premier Mike Harris established the ‘Sunshine List’— that annual tabulation of public employees making $100,000 or more— his intent was to shine a critical spotlight on government spending.

With an additional 4,000 names added to this year’s list— bringing the total to 115,432— it’s possible that even Harris’ most fervent detractors might today be every bit as critical as the former PC leader. There’s no doubt that many more workers are cresting the $100,000 plateau, but taking into account inflation (skyrocketing housing prices in particular), that threshold doesn’t seem quite as extravagant as it did when the list made its debut back in 1996.

However, it’s almost impossible for anybody to resist being stunned by the big money paid to a chosen few employees and contract workers.

For example: Newly-retired Ontario Power Generation CEO Tom Mitchell topped the list, making a staggering $1.6 million. Other OPG salaries are not disclosed following the partial privatization of the organization, but you can bet they are substantial.

Four Pan Am Games organizers clocked in at about $800,000 apiece. The former director of the Toronto school board received $587,225. Of that total, $315,225 was a payout for unused vacation days. Queen’s Park has always maintained that in order to attract top candidates, wages must approach what people might earn in the private sector. Two things are wrong with that approach.

The first is that in the private sector, people are actually taking a beating— in particular the middle class.

Many capable people with post-secondary degrees are underemployed, working unstable jobs without benefits or pensions. The presumption that public employees would amass fortunes outside government doesn’t wash. Secondly, we know that big salaries aren’t a guarantee of competence.

It’s a frustrating situation for many Ontarians who know exactly what things are like out here in the private sector.

Sunshine List blinds taxpayers

Opinion Apr 06, 2016 Independent Free Press

When former premier Mike Harris established the ‘Sunshine List’— that annual tabulation of public employees making $100,000 or more— his intent was to shine a critical spotlight on government spending.

With an additional 4,000 names added to this year’s list— bringing the total to 115,432— it’s possible that even Harris’ most fervent detractors might today be every bit as critical as the former PC leader. There’s no doubt that many more workers are cresting the $100,000 plateau, but taking into account inflation (skyrocketing housing prices in particular), that threshold doesn’t seem quite as extravagant as it did when the list made its debut back in 1996.

However, it’s almost impossible for anybody to resist being stunned by the big money paid to a chosen few employees and contract workers.

For example: Newly-retired Ontario Power Generation CEO Tom Mitchell topped the list, making a staggering $1.6 million. Other OPG salaries are not disclosed following the partial privatization of the organization, but you can bet they are substantial.

Four Pan Am Games organizers clocked in at about $800,000 apiece. The former director of the Toronto school board received $587,225. Of that total, $315,225 was a payout for unused vacation days. Queen’s Park has always maintained that in order to attract top candidates, wages must approach what people might earn in the private sector. Two things are wrong with that approach.

The first is that in the private sector, people are actually taking a beating— in particular the middle class.

Many capable people with post-secondary degrees are underemployed, working unstable jobs without benefits or pensions. The presumption that public employees would amass fortunes outside government doesn’t wash. Secondly, we know that big salaries aren’t a guarantee of competence.

It’s a frustrating situation for many Ontarians who know exactly what things are like out here in the private sector.

Sunshine List blinds taxpayers

Opinion Apr 06, 2016 Independent Free Press

When former premier Mike Harris established the ‘Sunshine List’— that annual tabulation of public employees making $100,000 or more— his intent was to shine a critical spotlight on government spending.

With an additional 4,000 names added to this year’s list— bringing the total to 115,432— it’s possible that even Harris’ most fervent detractors might today be every bit as critical as the former PC leader. There’s no doubt that many more workers are cresting the $100,000 plateau, but taking into account inflation (skyrocketing housing prices in particular), that threshold doesn’t seem quite as extravagant as it did when the list made its debut back in 1996.

However, it’s almost impossible for anybody to resist being stunned by the big money paid to a chosen few employees and contract workers.

For example: Newly-retired Ontario Power Generation CEO Tom Mitchell topped the list, making a staggering $1.6 million. Other OPG salaries are not disclosed following the partial privatization of the organization, but you can bet they are substantial.

Four Pan Am Games organizers clocked in at about $800,000 apiece. The former director of the Toronto school board received $587,225. Of that total, $315,225 was a payout for unused vacation days. Queen’s Park has always maintained that in order to attract top candidates, wages must approach what people might earn in the private sector. Two things are wrong with that approach.

The first is that in the private sector, people are actually taking a beating— in particular the middle class.

Many capable people with post-secondary degrees are underemployed, working unstable jobs without benefits or pensions. The presumption that public employees would amass fortunes outside government doesn’t wash. Secondly, we know that big salaries aren’t a guarantee of competence.

It’s a frustrating situation for many Ontarians who know exactly what things are like out here in the private sector.