We were gobsmacked by the news the news that Dr. Ian Arra, the Grey-Bruce medical officer of health, made $631,510 in 2020. By our calculation, if Arra worked 60 hours per week for 50 weeks last year, he was paid $210 per hour. His public health colleagues, including the Ontario and Toronto medical officers of health, all made $444K or less last year, most much less.

Now consider that countless thousands of Grey-Bruce residents who are paid the minimum hourly wage or a few dollars more would be ecstatic to earn $21 per hour, one-tenth of what the good doctor pulled down. In this context, Dr. Arra’s salary and benefits can only be called unreasonable, even unconscionable.

This does not deny the fact that Dr. Arra worked extremely hard, and apparently effectively in 2020 as he coped with the overwhelming pressures of Covid-19. We were frequently impressed by his public statements, and our two counties seem to have weathered the pandemic successfully. Outbreaks in long-term care facilities seem, in particular, to have been kept to a minimum.

But let’s get real: nobody, not a prime minister or corporate executive or Blue Jays star actually deserves to make $631,510. This annual income is simply a manifestation of the winner-takes-all nature of our unequal, unfair capitalist economy.

When he addressed Owen Sound City Council Dr. Arra did not answer pertinent questions put to him by several regional councillors. He should publicly answer their questions and, in our view, should apologize for, not just rationalize, plucking such an enormous sum from public pockets.

Michael Craig and Liane Regendanz
Owen Sound