Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ontario's Sunshine list...

So, Ontario just published it's annual sunshine list of people making over $100,000 in the public sector. (this includes colleges and universities as well, plus the judiciary, big hydro, etc...)

This year there are 42,527 people on the list, up from about 34,000 last year. The article in the Toronto Star has some interesting features.

One, it refers to these people as "
well-paid mandarins". Well, I'm sorry, but I don't think of an experienced university professor, or the head of a major metropolitan hospital as a "mandarin". Some might argue that we should be slashing these salaries, to which I say, if you want all of our best professors to move to the U.S., and all of our crown corporations to be led by people who couldn't get a job in the private sector, go ahead. Most of these people could make a lot more money if they left the public sector for a private company, or left U of T or Queen's to go teach at Harvard or Yale. If that's what you want, fine. Start saving to send your kids abroad for their education, and don't complain when the power goes out because all the power executives who know what their doing have left to work for private companies.

Second, the article points out that the $100,000 cut off is not indexed to inflation. So, even if these people's salaries are just keeping pace with inflation, the number of people on the list is virtually GUARANTEED to go up every year. If you wanted to make a fair comparison to 1996 (the year the list was introduced by the Harris government) then this year's cut-off should be $125,000, not $100,000 ($100,000 in 1996 dollars = $125,000 in 2008 dollars). This makes the list kinda meaningless (and direct comparisons to past years TOTALLY meaningless) as ignoring the effect of inflation is like trying to buy a candy bar for a penny because a candy bar used to cost a penny.

Third, and most humourously, both of the people quoted attacking the list (Bob "oh MY, the DRAMATIC increases" Runcimen and Howard "think of what a minimum wage earner makes" Hampton) are ON THE LIST. Howard Hampton - $153,571.20, Bob Runcimen $143,303.03. Now, I don't begrudge our elected officials making good money. God knows I don't want Queen's Park to be filled with people too under-educated, and under-qualified to get a private sector job, but still, it's funny. Some politicians will rail against what some professor with seven years worth of graduate education makes, but never mention that they're making more.

Good thing we have a Sunshine list, I guess.

Still, this has to be the one day a year when all the "outrage" over these "high" salaries makes a lot of these people re-consider staying in Canada, or staying in the public sector. I'd imagine a lot of Ontarians are wishing today that they were sitting pretty at Harvard or GE, or working at some high powered corporate law firm instead of getting attacked for making less money at U of T or Ontario Power Corp, or sitting on the bench.

It's not often one can sympathize with people making over $100,000. But the day after the sunshine list is published is always, for me, one of those days.

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skdadl said...

Great post, LKO.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Does anyone read The Sun? Except rednecks, I mean ...

Catelli said...

I wince every year they announce the list. As someone aspiring to the $100k line, I will NOT do it in the public sector. I'll be damned before I let the public decry how much I make.

I wonder how many other people this list chases away? How many other qualified people avoid public sector work just because of the publicity around their salary?

Mé said...

Teachers make way too much money. So do nurses, transit workers, and anyone else that works in the government. They should all be making less than minimum wage. Better yet, let's get rid of the minimum wage and they can work for nothing.

Really, I would like to know from those who complain about public sector salaries, how much teachers should be paid each year.

Trust me. I don't make $100,000 or $70,000 a year.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...


Yes, point taken, except that my link is to the STAR, not the Sun (the Sun's article was pretty cringe-worthy too).

Anonymous said...

Bravo !!!! well put.
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