The annual release of the sunshine list detailing government employees making in excess of $100,000 is typically a one-day wonder. Media focus on the top wage earners, and in recent years there is an annual debate about whether the list itself should be indexed for inflation, since in government circles at least, a $100,000 annual salary is no big deal; although the median wage in Ontario is just over $52,000.
What is more interesting than what individuals are earning,(although one might ask why the President of an electrical utility is worth almost ten times the highest paid Hospital CEO) is the sheer number of individuals now topping $100,000 annually.
At the municipal level the city of Hamilton has seen staggering growth in the number of employees now in the 100K club since a decade ago. A few statistics illustrate the growth. Inflation in the ten years between 2007 and 2017 has increased 18 percent. In 2007 the City of Hamilton had 262 employees on the sunshine list. In 2017 it was 1569—an increase of 600%
Looking ahead it appears the majority of city employees not on the sunshine list will soon be joining it. The 2007 city budget showed employee related costs, which includes pension contributions, vacation pay and health benefits sits at $776 Million which works out to $108,000 for every city employee. Even after subtracting the benefits that don’t count as part of their salary for the purposes of the Sunshine list; it appears the average city worker is knocking on the door of what once was an elite group, but now apparently will include almost everybody, including, and it is only a matter of time, city councillors who currently receive roughly $94,000 per year.