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Is ‘Sunshine List’ worthwhile?


“The annual ‘Sunshine List’ landed not so much with a thud as a whimper,” Queen’s Park columnist Christina Blizzard wrote on Monday.

There were few surprises. Pan Am executives earned huge salaries to make the Toronto Pan Am Games the most successful ever, but at the same time, the games lost money and several of those executives earned salaries far surpassing the average earned by medical doctors in the province.

Passed in 1996 by the Mike Harris government, the Public Salary Disclosure Act often infuriates the public who feel that too many public sector workers receive excessive salaries.

The law requires that municipalities, hospitals, public agencies, universities, colleges, school boards and any other organization significantly funded by the province provide a list or person who earned $100,000 in the previous year.

Municipalities across the province make up the greatest percentage of workers earning more than $100,000. The majority of those workers are police officers, fire fighters and public works employees working over-time.

But 20 years later, how relevant is the “Sunshine List” and the $100,000 threshold amount?

In 1996, 4,756 names appeared on the list. In 2016, 115,431 names appeared on the list. The list shed over 3,744 Hydro One workers.

What’s more, $100,000 in 1996 dollars would be worth $154,087 today. While the Public Disclosure Act has not kept pace with legislation, the Wynne government sees no value in modernizing it.

If we used the value $154,431 as a threshold amount, over 100,000 names would disappear from the “Sunshine List.”

If that many names would disappear from the list, is the “Sunshine List” as we see it today worthwhile?

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