August 17, 2019

Spring cleaning extends to more than just reorganizing our garages and washing the walls; it also includes airing out the laundry of those employed in the public sector.

Every spring, Ontario’s public sector salary disclosure list or the “sunshine list” is released, which names any public sector employee earning $100,000-plus in annual salary.

But does earning more than a $100,000 annually really categorize you as an elite? The short answer: not anymore.

When the the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act was introduced in 1996, it aimed at making the Ontario public sector more transparent and accountable to taxpayers. The act requires that all public sector employers disclose the names, positions, salaries and total taxable benefits of employees paid $100,000 or more in the previous calendar year.

With each passing year, the list continues to grow and grow. That is because, with inflation, the cost of living and annual pay increases, $100,000 because less and less elite.

If you consider how the inflation rate has increased over the past 23 years, $100,000 in 1996 would now be worth $154,195.01 today.

As the inflation rate continues to increase, the sunshine list minimum earnings should increase as well.

In Cambridge, 122 fire department employees, working in positions ranging from chief and platoon chief to firefighters, were included on this year’s disclosure. If 122 fire department employees from high- to entry-level positions were included, should all their earnings be considered out of the ordinary?

For 2018, 151,197 individual earners made the list. Some of the earners making the list were just teachers. With every added employee, the list loses its power. It no longer acts as a way to keep powerful positions such as college presidents, doctors, government ministers and executive directors accountable, but rather is a data system to account for every employee.

It is important to keep the public informed of who is collecting a large share of their tax contributions, but it is about time that the list is reconstructed so that the minimum earnings is increased to keep that list of elite earners exactly that — elite.

More than 150,000 public sector employees in Ontario made this year’s ever growing sunshine list. Photo by Kaitlyn Mullin, Spoke News

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