Toronto's outspoken budget chair Mike Del Grande wants the city's top earners – including the police chief and the TTC General Manager – to take a two-year pay freeze to set an example during tough economic times.
Mr. Del Grande plans to float his idea of freezing pay levels for all city staff making more than $200,000, including those at agencies, boards and commissions, during Friday's meeting of the budget committee. Mr. Del Grande said the measures are in line with spending restraints now being sought by the province for executives in the broader public sector such as hospitals and universities. While the city does not have a direct say in the salaries at independent agencies such as the police or TTC, it is city taxpayers, he said, who pick up the tab.
"All these guys, they are making some really significant coin and they are doing it on the public dollar," Mr. Del Grande said. "I am saying to them, show a little bit of leadership here."
Toronto city councillors took a pay freeze in 2011. A cost-of-living increase for councillors was included in this year's budget, but a final decision on pay was put off earlier this year by council until all contracts with city staff are settled.
"I think it is just a point of principle. That message of restraint needs to be there," said Mr. Del Grande, who introduced the February motion to delay the decision on councillors' pay.
Mr. Del Grande did not know how many staff his proposal would affect or how much money it would shave from the city's more than $9-billion budget.
A quick inventory of high earners from the province's salary disclosure lists shows more than 30 individuals earning in excess of $200,000 last year at the city and its agencies, boards and commissions, with dozens more just below the cut-off line.
At the Friday meeting, Mr. Del Grande said he also plans to take issue with recommendations from staff to use savings from a new deal reached by the city to use school pools and other spare cash in this year's budget to restore some services.
In particular, he said he is opposed to a subsidy now given to city workers who put their children in city hall's onsite daycare. That subsidy, which works out on average to about $704 annually, could be better spent, he said, on subsidies for the city's vulnerable and low-income parents.
"Last time I checked City of Toronto workers are paid above the average," he said. "The freebies are rampant down here. Where is the fairness in that? This is one of those things that really needs to be fixed."
Many times this fall, Mr. Del Grande took issue with his fellow councillors who he said were afraid to make tough budget decisions. He predicted Thursday that the next round of budget talks will be challenging once again.
He said he expects to have a fight on his hands, but said he is still intent on trimming costs with an eye to harmonizing services across the city and making sure services are delivered fairly.
"This budget chair is not saying let's cut just for the sake of cutting," he said. "When we don't make these hard decisions, we are being unfair."
With files from Rebecca Tromsness
Some top earners with the City of Toronto:
PENNACHETTI, JOSEPH City Manager - $330,386.36
MCKEOWN, DAVID Medical Officer Of Health - $294,302.61
YAFFE, BARBARA Associate Medical Officer of Health - $279,979.92
FINKELSTEIN, MICHAEL Associate Medical Officer Of Health - $273,142.99
SHAPIRO, HOWARD Associate Medical Officer Of Health - $264,711.64
LAMIE, FRANK P. Deputy Fire Chief Director - $260,246.07
WELDON, CAMERON Deputy City Manager & Chief Financial Officer - $243,537.80
WATKISS, ULRIKE City Clerk - $220,251.18
SHAHIN, RITA Associate Medical Officer Of Health - $220,195.35
GRIFFITHS, JEFFREY Auditor-General - $218,177.84
KINASTOWSKI, ANNA City Solicitor - $216,779.23
BOWES, BRUCE Chief Corporate Officer - $216,779.23
STEWART, WILLIAM A. Fire Chief and General Manager - $216,779.21
DI GIRONIMO, LUIGI General Manager Water & Wastewater - $216,779.21
BERGER, LISA Associate Medical Officer Of Health - $214,606.05
MACVICAR, HEATHER A. General Manager Employment & Social Services - $213,719.36
WALLACE, DAVID Chief Information Officer - $213,002.72
PATTERSON, BRENDA L. Deputy City Manager - $211,501.58
WELSH, GARY H. General Manager Transportation Services - $207,570.48
CARBONE, GIULIANA Treasurer - $201,093.58
BROWN, PHILIP General Manager Shelter Support & Housing - $200,252.25
Some top earners with city agencies, boards and commissions:
BLAIR, WILLIAM STERLING Chief of Police $328,557.60
SLOLY, PETER JOHN Deputy Chief $218,404.48
FEDERICO, MICHAEL Deputy Chief $203,360.22
VENEZIANO, TONY Chief Administrative Officer $226,603.17
Toronto Transit Commission
WEBSTER, GARY Chief General Manager $282,697.88
RODO, VINCENT General Manager, Executive & General Secretary $214,487.05
GHALY, SAMEH Program Manager – Transit Expansion $214,487.02
DIXON, DAVID General Manager, Operations $202,515.04
SEPULIS, JOHN General Manager, Engineering & Construction $214,487.14
PYPER, JANE City Librarian $218,389.61