Premier Kathleen Wynne's chief of staff, Tom Teahen, made more money last year than the chief of staff to U.S. President Barack Obama.
An Ontario Power Generation executive received a $1.2-million severance payout.
In some of the province's large police forces, more than half of all officers pull in six-figure salaries.
These were among the revelations contained in the "Sunshine List," released Friday, of all provincial and municipal workers earning more than $100,000 annually.
For the first time, more than 100,000 people made the list, despite the government's promise to tighten its belt in the face of a $12.5-billion deficit. A total of 111,440 people earned six figures and up, an increase of 14 per cent from the previous year.
The data shines a spotlight on the highest-spending areas of government.
A staggering 38 per cent of the new names on the list are municipal employees – including police, firefighters and transit operators – at a time when cities across the province are struggling to balance their books and upgrade outdated infrastructure. The other largest areas of increase are in the core civil service (23 per cent), health care (17 per cent) and postsecondary institutions (9 per cent).
Ms. Wynne, whose $208,974 premier's salary has been frozen for seven years, vowed to rein in the pay of some top public-sector executives.
"We have to make sure we put in place the controls … to have some caps on those upper-end salaries," she told reporters following a speech in Waterloo, Ont.
Some are in her own office: Mr. Teahen makes $304,068 annually as Ms. Wynne's top aide. By comparison, Mr. Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, earns $172,200 (U.S.), or about $215,000 (Canadian).
Deputy Premier Deb Matthews is trying to negotiate "net-zero" contracts with public-sector workers by ensuring any growth in salary is offset by cuts to benefits, or vice versa.
"We value the important work of our public-sector employees and want to ensure that we are able to attract good talent while also managing public dollars responsibly," Ms. Matthews' spokeswoman, Samantha Grant, wrote in an e-mail.
Natural inflation and population growth accounts for some of the steady expansion of the Sunshine List. The government said a quirk in the 2014 payment schedule, which resulted in employees receiving pay for the last two weeks of 2013 in 2014, also pushed some employees who earn less than $100,000 annually onto the list.
But officials conceded much of the increase comes from pay hikes. And the opposition warned that continuing to hold the line on spending while allowing wages to rise could lead the government to slash spending elsewhere to make up for it.
"If a wage envelope is frozen but salaries are going up, it only stands to reason that fewer people will be on the payroll. That means job and service cuts," Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod said in an interview.
Added New Democrat MPP Catherine Fife: "The outrageous public-sector CEO salaries that Kathleen Wynne has done nothing to control, and the deep cuts to public services that Ontarians will face, are an insult."
Here are five highlights from the List.
The top earners
The highest-paid employee on the list is Ontario Power Generation CEO Tom Mitchell, who made $1.55-million. That actually represented a decrease from his salary the previous year, which was more than $1.7-million.
The second spot goes to ousted former OPG chief financial officer Donn Hanbidge, who earned $1,208,155.82 in severance payments. Mr. Hanbidge was fired in late 2013, along with two other OPG officials, after an audit revealed the agency was hiring more managers and paying them big bonuses when it was supposed to be cutting costs.
The remainder of the top 10 is dominated by university and hospital executives, as well as the heads of various government agencies. They are:
- William Moriarty, president of the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation ($937,5000)
- Amit Chakma, University of Western Ontario president ($924,000)
- Robert MacIsaac, Hamilton Health Sciences president ($755,715)
- William Reichman, CEO of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care ($748,562.51)
- Marcello Carmine, Hydro One president ($741,554)
- Barry McLellan, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre president and CEO ($714,999.97)
- Howard Wetston, Ontario Securities Commission chair ($703,628.91)
- Bruce Campbell, Independent Electricity System Operator president ($694,468.39)
High-flying chiefs of staff
Mr. Teahen makes $304,068 annually as Ms. Wynne's top aide. By comparison Mr. Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, earns $172,200 (U.S.), or about $215,000 Canadian.
Mr. Teahen has run Ms. Wynne's office since she became premier in Feb. 2013. Previously, he was an executive at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, where he earned slightly more.
His pay also dwarfs that of Ms. Wynne, who takes in $208,974.
"Tom Teahen's compensation is in line with other public and private sector entities and also in line with comparable positions of previous office holders," the Premier's spokeswoman, Zita Astravas, wrote in an email.
A look at previous chiefs of staff show Mr. Teahen's pay is at the upper end of the spectrum.
In 2001, Mike Harris' chief of staff Guy Giorno made $159,501.30; $206,626.68 in today's dollars. In 2005, then-chief of staff Don Guy made $179,463.04, which equals $212,910.74 when adjusted for inflation.
Mr. Teahan, for what it's worth, had some company in the upper pay echelons.
Earl Provost, chief of staff to former Toronto deputy mayor Norm Kelly, also made more than Mr. McDonough, pulling down $246,357.23. That pay reflects both Mr. Provost's salary, and severance he received when he left city hall in the changeover to John Tory's administration in December.
The rising cost of policing is squeezing municipal budgets, and it's not hard to see why.
More than half of all Toronto Police Service employees – 4,125 officers and civilians – are on the list. It's a similar story with neighbouring Peel Regional Police, where 1,519, or about 55 per cent, of employees made over $100,000.
The rise is due in part to a history of generous labour deals, often granting raises over the rate of inflation. Peel police, for instance, received an 11 per cent raise over four years starting in 2011, approximately three per cent higher than inflation in that period.
Fully 75 per cent of all Ontario Power Generation employees – some 7,667 people – made six-figure incomes. But this was still a decrease from last year, when 7,957 OPG employees made the list.
Hydro One and Hydro One Brampton, meanwhile, saw an increase of 14 per cent, to 4,349 employees on the list.
"This increase is largely attributable to increases in collective agreements and overtime," said Hydro One Senior Vice President Laura Cooke. She also pointed out that the agency's president, Mr. Carmine, earns 25 per cent less than his predecessor.
One of ex-premier Dalton McGuinty's top aides, Dave Gene, received $117,002.12 worth of severance payments last year, despite having left the Premier's office in Feb. 2013 when Ms. Wynne took over.
A government source said he opted to spread his severance out over two years, hence the recent payment. He received $164,435.44 in 2013.
In court documents last year, Mr. Gene was named as the official who arranged a $10,000 taxpayer-funded payment to an outside IT expert who erased computer hard drives in the Premier's office in early 2013. Wiping those drives may have destroyed emails related to the gas plant scandal.
When the $10,000 payment came to light, Ms. Wynne ordered the Liberal Party to repay the treasury.