The Ontario government recently released its annual Sunshine List of public employees who made $100,000 or more in 2020. To no one’s surprise, top bureaucrats were given massive raises despite Bill 124 limiting the raises of most public sector workers to one per cent. Frontline workers can barely keep up with inflation while Premier Doug Ford’s friends get even richer. The list has made it clear that his promise to “tighten the belt” only applies to those with the least ability to pay, not police chiefs and CEOs of crown corporations.
The scale of raises is truly staggering. Salary and benefits for the top 100 bureaucrats went from an average of $541,000 to $592,000, or a raise of 12.42 per cent. The top 10 went from an average of $747,000 to $911,000, or a raise of 28.47 per cent. Some particularly egregious raises include the ones to Ontario Power Generation’s President of Nuclear and CEO, each of whom made over $1.1 million in 2020.
The power workers who risk their lives to keep the lights on can barely keep up with inflation, while their bosses sit at home collecting millions. Students are paying full tuition for Zoom classes while the top 10 university administrators each make over half a million dollars. Ontario cops spent the year arresting Tyendinaga land defenders, harassing homeless people, and murdering nine people, and the top 10 cops were rewarded with 37.89 per cent raises. Police in general made up a large part of the Sunshine List, with 17,398 cops making over $100,000 in 2020.
These raises are particularly hypocritical considering Doug Ford’s talk about “tightening the belt” and “finding efficiencies”. Apparently it was necessary to cut services across the board and limit most public sector raises to one per cent, but there’s room in the budget to give massive raises to millionaires. He was the biggest debt hawk when he was attacking teachers, nurses, letter carriers, etc., but when it comes to CEOs and police chiefs, money is no object. In total, employees on the Sunshine List contributed to over $26 billion in public expenses. Surely, with a budget that large, there’s room for modest demands like pandemic pay and paid sick days.
To be clear, most workers on the Sunshine List like teachers, medical staff, transit workers, etc., got there thanks to hard-fought union battles and years of hard work. However, the big raises at the top of the list highlight the fact that Ford’s cuts aren’t about “efficiencies”, but transferring as much wealth as possible from the working class to his own class. He campaigned on getting rid of the “Six Million Dollar Man”, but he’s proved himself to be little different from the Liberals in terms of giving raises to top bureaucrats while limiting the wages of everyone else. Both parties represent the interests of the ruling class, and both must be fought with the full force of the labour movement.