The ranks of Ontario’s top-paid government workers grew 9 per cent over the past year, with everyone from electricity executives to subway fare collectors to a television talk show host swelling the ranks of the so-called Sunshine List.
The annual disclosure of public-sector workers who earned more than $100,000 in 2013, released Friday, grew to roughly 96,500 people in 2013, up from 88,412 the previous year. The average salary on the list decreased slightly, from $127,576 to $127,433.
The release also reveals a substantial severance for Dalton McGuinty’s former chief of staff who, it was revealed this week, is under police investigation for allegedly orchestrating the destruction of documents in the former premier’s office. An even heftier payout – more than $240,000 – went to Chris Spence, the Toronto District School Board education director who resigned in January 2013 over a plagiarism scandal.
And, it turns out, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s chief of staff, Tom Teahan, not only made a lot more than she did, he even pulled in bigger bucks than U.S. President Barack Obama’s chief of staff.
Related: Search this year’s Sunshine List in an interactive table.
But the highest-paid public servant by far was Tom Mitchell, chief executive officer of Ontario Power Generation. He received a little more than $1.7-million, down slightly from 2012. As the head of the agency that produces most of Ontario’s electricity, Mr. Mitchell oversees a system that includes a fleet of nuclear reactors.
Mr. Mitchell had plenty of company among fellow energy workers: a total of 7,958 OPG employees made the list, down two from the previous year. Hydro One, the agency that runs electrical transmission, reported 3,819, up 464 year-over-year.
At OPG, roughly 3 out of 4 employees pulled in a six-figure income.
Still, said OPG spokesman Neal Kelly, the agency has been shedding staff and trying to tighten its belt – as evidenced by the slightly decline in employees on the list.
“The number of regular and temporary employees continues to trend downward. OPG has been cutting costs and improving efficiencies through its business transformation that started in 2011,” he wrote in an email.
The second spot went to Wayne Robbins, OPG’s chief nuclear officer, who pulled in $920,714.
In third was John Murphy, who was fired as OPG’s executive vice president, strategic initiatives, in December of last year. He took home $910,869.94 in 2013, compared to $826,015 the year before. Mr. Murphy was one of three executives turfed after an audit revealed the ranks of OPG executives had swelled when the organization was supposed to be cutting back. One of the other executives shown the door at OPG – CFO Donn Hanbidge – made $670,929.
Hydro One president Marcello Carmine, meanwhile, raked in $728,570.83 in salary and taxable benefits. His pay, however, was lower than that of his predecessor, who received nearly a million dollars in her final year.
Hospital executives continued to populate the top ranks, with University Health Network’s Bob Bell, who recently left the hospital to become the top civil servant at the health ministry, pulling in $828,633.88.
Other organizations with plenty of employees on the list include Toronto Police, with 2,983, and the TTC with 1,748.
One TTC driver pulled in $145,501 – more than the transit commissions lawyers. A fare collector in the subway system made a cool $124,417.69.
David Livingston, Mr. McGuinty’s final chief of staff, who left office on Feb. 11, 2013, earned $108,643.36 in salary and severance. Mr. Livingston is the subject of an OPP investigation for allegedly bringing in the boyfriend of his deputy, Laura Miller, to “wipe” the hard drives of computers in the premier’s office. Ms. Miller, who was also let go less than six weeks into the year, walked away with $154,469.64.
Premier Kathleen Wynne pulled in $198,521.29, while Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak took $180,885. 96 and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, $158,157.96.
With MPPs’ salaries frozen, neither Mr. Hudak nor Ms. Horwath were paid more than the previous year. Ms. Wynne’s pay was slightly less than Mr. McGuinty’s, but only because she became Premier about five weeks into last year.
Ms. Wynne’s chief of staff, Tom Teahen, earned substantially more than his boss, raking in $344,230. By comparison, U.S. President Barack Obama’s chief of staff has a salary of $172,000.
The Premier’s office said that, of Mr. Teahen’s pay last year, $271,282 came from his post in the Premier’s office, which he started in February; the rest came from his previous job at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. His chief of staff salary for a full year – $304,000 – is near the upper range of what people who previously did the same job have been paid. Mr. Livingston, for instance, made $321,249 in 2012; Guy Giorno, Mike Harris’s chief of staff, made $159,501 in 2001 which would be a little over $200,000 in today’s dollars.
“The compensation reflects the experience Mr. Teahen brings to the role and is in line with other public and private sector entities,” Ms. Wynne’s spokeswoman, Kelly Baker, wrote in an email.
Also making more than the Premier was Steve Paikin, the producer and host of The Agenda on government television network TV Ontario. He was paid $307,818.16.
Ex-TDSB education director Mr. Spence, meanwhile, got $240,000 last year despite his abrupt resignation in January amid plagiarism allegations. Chris Spence earned $240,735.66 in 2013, as well as $1,059.45 in taxable benefits. In the previous year, he earned $270,977.
Mr. Spence worked at the school board for less than a month in 2013. He was accused of plagiarism pertaining to everything from his personal blog to newspaper opinion pieces. The University of Toronto initiated an investigation into whether Dr. Spence plagiarized parts of his 1996 PhD dissertation. That investigation is continuing.
The TDSB defended Mr. Spence’s salary.
“That amount takes into consideration the director’s severance following his departure from the TDSB,” said spokesman Ryan Bird. Mr. Spence did not respond to an email request for comment.