The optics of Sunshine Lists are troubling

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The Ontario government published its annual Sunshine List of public sector employees who earned more than $100,000 last year. There are 131,741 workers on the list, an increase from 123,410 last year, earning salaries and benefits that total over $16.8 billion.

Many on the Sunshine List are understandably squirmish because that publicly separates them from the have-nots and that can deep down consume them with some level of guilt. Those not on the list are on the other hand consumed by envy.

But being an election year, everyone wanted to know what PC party leader Doug Ford had to say about this Sunshine List and on Twitter he reacted: “there is nothing sunny” about the Sunshine List.

Needless to say, Ontario Power Generation executives, a pair of hospital CEOs, and a university president are among the highest paid people on the list.

At the top is Ontario Power Generation CEO Jeffrey Lyash, who was paid $1,554,456.95 last year.

Bruce Campbell, president and CEO of Independent Electricity System Operator, was paid $749,862.59.

Mark Fuller, president and CEO of the Ontario Public Service Pension Board, was paid $745,211.84.

The $100,000 figure represents total pay — salary plus any bonuses or overtime — but not benefits. Taxable benefits are reported on a separate line.

The number of employees at the City of Mississauga who are paid over $100,000 is on the rise.

In Mississauga, there are 1,048 staffers earning more than $100,000. This is a six per cent increase over last year, which saw 984 employees make the list.

One reason why the public is angry about the incomes earned by public servants is that there is no level playing field. Those condemned to work in the private sector must go to work each day and work like it was their last. Jobs are scarce, and few jobs are secure. On the other hand, the public see politicians and public-sector employees literally living life king size. There is little accountability and jobs are for the most part secure despite mediocre output.

Sunshine Lists are seen as a form of public shaming unlike lottery winners who are celebrated for winning Jackpots although getting a job in the public sector is increasingly viewed as winning a Cash for Life lottery.

Sunshine List now being viewed as mostly white

Just as you had #OscarsSoWhite last year, this year we could well have a #SunshineListSoWhite moment.

This should really be a non-story but here we are again dissecting the Sunshine List and deep investigation by a leading media outlet has revealed minorities are almost invisible among Ontario’s best-paid public servants. Who would’ve known?

Perhaps not whites, but minorities simply assume that a Sunshine List would automatically mean it was comprised of a mostly white and male affair.

The top 25 highest-paid public-sector employees of 2017 are all visibly white and only four women round out the list. Surprise!

Visible minority groups make up 29.3 per cent of Ontario’s population, data from Canada’s 2016 census shows. This number is expected to grow “drastically” in the next 15 years, says Michael Coteau the minister responsible for anti-racism, and the province’s public servants need to reflect this diversity.

But this is easier said than done because provincial government cannot enforce diversity throughout the public sector, which includes municipalities, school boards, hospitals, universities, colleges, and many charities.

Coteau adds, however, that having more visible minorities within government will eventually spread to the public sector.

But it has been pointed out that it is not just hiring practices that is the cause for this lack of diversity at the top of the food chain but rather the fact that once at the top, few public servants want to get off the gravy train.

Big money, great benefits and a level of job security encourages those at the top to remain there well past their best-before date.

Nothing is going to change in a hurry and as a person who knows a couple of those on the Sunshine List said, many of these senior managers don’t take early retirement simply because they are literally working to help and subsidize their children who are struggling to get into well-paid jobs themselves.

Meanwhile there is a need for cities and provinces to institute mentorship programs to identify and encourage visible minorities as they climb up the food chain. – CINEWS

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