National

The sunshine list is meant to control public spending. Photo: CC, Mohamed Hassan via Pixbay.

Over 1,500 U of O staff featured on list of high-earners

Ontario’s annual Sunshine List, which unmasks the salaries of the province’s most highly paid public employees, was released this past Tuesday.

The list covers provincial public sector employees who made more than $100,000 last year and includes everyone from professors to mechanics. The University of Ottawa maintains a notable presence on the list, with over 1,500 administrators, professors, and managers represented.

Deans comfortably led the pack, with Jacques Bradwejn and Bernard Jasmin making over $400,000 each in 2018.

The U of O pays professors above average as compared to other Canadian schools, with salaries higher than 80 per cent of other institutions. These salaries have been the target of some controversy as the school has steadily increased tuition costs over the last 15 years.

Ontario started publicly releasing public salaries in 1996 as part of Mike Harris’ ‘Common Sense Revolution.’ The program was intended to generate public accountability for what was seen as ballooning government spending. It was part of a larger series of reforms and cuts that Harris would push in an attempt to balance the province’s rising deficit.

The number of employees on those lists has exploded from just 4,457 in 1996 to over 151,000 in the latest iteration.

But the list is not without its critics, who claim it unfairly targets bureaucrats and employees working overtime while ignoring the government’s biggest spenders.

The list has never adjusted the cut-off point for inflation, causing many entries that would not have historically been included. A Bank of Canada inflation calculator pins the original $100,000 amount at $152,000 in 2018 dollars, a number that would cut 85 per cent of the Sunshine List’s members.

The list also exclusively includes compensation provided by salaries and taxable benefits. This arrangement caused the true cost of the province’s highest paid contractors to be underreported. This was the case with ORNGE’s Chris Mazza, the CEO of Ontario’s private air ambulance service who spent millions of public dollars on lavish spending sprees while barely cracking the top of the list.

The Fulcrum has reached out to the University of Ottawa concerning the Sunshine List and will update this story as necessary.

— With files from Matt Gergyek.