The annual Sunshine List was released a few weeks ago documenting who in the public sector was paid $100,000 or more, sometimes much more, per year.
Obviously, those with the power and opportunity fare better than the rest of us. That includes politicians who vote their own salaries, administrators and executives who set their own budgets, and organized labour that negotiate collective agreements.
With the release of the Panama Papers, it should be evident that the Sunshine List just acts as a distraction from the shenanigans of the One Percent in the private sector. There, multi-million dollar rewards top the list, and it finances specialists who hide assets offshore. Outrageous stories make the news, like the 20% pay raise (to almost $20 million) for the CEO of BP Oil while losing $6.5 billion on operations.
Even the language used is revealing. The wealthy rely on tax “havens”, a place of safety or refuge …. or a tax “shelter”, a protection or shield from something harmful. Lesser beings might be accused of participating in an “underground economy” or “black market”. What is “wealth management” to some is “tax evasion” for others.
Still, the Sunshine List is significant because the average Ontario salary, around $49,000, is about half of the list’s bottom entry point. Statistics Canada reported the average income in Innisfil was $38,893 at the last census in 2011.
I haven’t seen much in the way of analysis of the Sunshine List so I thought I would have a look at some historical data for Innisfil. There are some interesting trends:
More Executive Staff
Steady growth requires more staff and a more complex corporate structure. The number of staff on Innisfil’s Sunshine List has increased from 14 in 2011 to 24 in 2015.
Winners and Losers
As the Town corporate structure evolves, there have been winners and losers as some salaries have declined and some positions have dropped entirely from the list. Innisfil’s Sunshine List total cost appears to have peaked at $2.8 million in 2014 and declined to just under $2.5 million in 2015.
The share of total wages and benefits in the Town’s Operating Budget devoted to the Sunshine staff was 7.1% in 2011, peaked above 19% in 2013, and declined to 14.4% in 2015. The average compensation (total wages and benefits) per person on the list in 2011 was $118,767. By 2015 it had declined to $103,989.
Growing Sunshine Disparity
The dollar variance between the highest paid and lowest paid on the Sunshine List was $69,115 (68.6%) in 2011. By 2015 this had increased to $94,443 (93.6%) between the highest and lowest paid on the list.
In 2011, with an average municipal tax of $1,036 per household (excluding County, Police and Education assessments), 1,605 households were needed to finance the Sunshine List staff requirement. In 2015, 2,008 households, with an average municipal tax of $1,243 each were needed to finance the Sunshine List staff. There were 14,203 households in Innisfil in 2013.