The list, released annually, now includes the names of 88,412 people, an increase of 11 per cent over the number of individuals included on the list last year. Since 2009, its ranks have grown by 39 per cent.
Progressive Conservative finance critic Peter Shurman suggested the sharp growth in the size of the list demonstrates the need for a wage freeze.
"This is a government that wants people in Ontario to believe that they have effictively dealt with salaries in the broader public sector," Shurman said. "They haven't and this is the proof that they haven't, and this is the reason why we say we need a legislated mandatory wage freeze."
The sunshine list was brought in under the Mike Harris-led Progressive Conservative government in the mid-1990s, but the $100,000 threshold for inclusion has never been changed. Harris said it served as an important check on the public payroll.
Executives from provincial energy agencies topped the list of earners in the public sector in 2012.
The Canadian Press reported that Tom Mitchell, the president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation, was the highest paid at $1.7 million. Nearly 8,000 other people who work at OPG also made the list.
Hydro One CEO Laura Formosa made $1.04 million last year.
Other top earners included:
- Robert Bell, the CEO of Toronto’s University Health Network, who collected $828,552 between his salary and taxable benefits
- Catherine Zahn, the president and chief executive officer of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, who earned $746,321
- Rod Phillips, the president and chief executive officer of Ontario Lottery and Gaming, earned a salary of $672,989
All of these executives made far more than Dalton McGuinty, the former premier who pulled in a salary just shy of $209,000 in 2012.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who was paid just over $158,000 last year, suggested that the premier’s salary should be used as a measuring stick when it comes to evaluating the salaries of executives in the public sector.
"We shouldn't see any CEO in any public-sector agency or ministry earning more than twice what the premier makes," Horwath told reporters Thursday.
The sunshine list also reveals the salaries of Ontario’s university leaders, with presidents at some of the province's largest schools earning a combination of salary and benefits in the range of $400,000.
David Naylor, the president of the University of Toronto, was paid a salary of $388,400.84 in 2012, but also received taxable benefits of $52,951.48.
Elsewhere in Toronto, York University president and vice-chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri earned $478,851.66 in salary last year and Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy earned $445,780.14 and another $18,239.32 in taxable benefits.
In the nation’s capital, Allan Rock was paid a salary of $394,999.92 as president of the University of Ottawa, while Carleton University president and vice-chancellor Roseann O’Reilly Runte earned $358,474.46 as well as another $46,095.47 in taxable benefits.
At the University of Western Ontario, Amit Chakma, the president and vice-chancellor, was paid a salary of $479,600.04 as well as taxable benefits of $41,123.21.
Daniel Woolf, the principal of Queen’s University, earned a salary of $360,800, as well as taxable benefits worth $21,666.90.
The CBC's Mike Crawley reported that nearly 15,000 university staff were listed on the sunshine list.
Time for adjustment?
Some critics say that with the ever-expanding list, it might be time to consider raising the $100,000 threshold.
However, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said Thursday the governing Liberals have no plans to do so and Premier Kathleen Wynne said that $100,000 remains a lot of money for most people.
Frank Ramagnano of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Union pointed to city firefighters who actually make less than $100,000 annually, but they get placed on the list because they were needed for overtime.
"When in fact, somebody's actually doing something to help the city out by sacrificing their summer to come in and make sure that the fire boat is there and available for emergencies," he said.
He said some firefighters are called in for overtime because they are specialized in some way.
Ramagnano says he wants the government to bring the list in line with inflation — which would mean that those who made $100,000 in 1996 would have to make $140,000 today to make the list.
Armine Yalnizyan of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says only a small fraction of workers in Ontario have salaries that exceed the $100,000 threshold.
"In Ontario about six per cent of the population of tax filers have an income over $100,000," she said. "So there's nothing wrong with seeing who's in that group."
Yalnizyan would also like the list to "shine a light on the private sector."Suggest a correction