- by David Clark

The Sunshine list for 2023 is out and many of us will be up in arms at how many in Grey Bruce are earning whopping big incomes. And, although my subjective self  feels many of the salaries on the full provincial list and the Grey Bruce list are out  of whack with the reality of how many of us manage to live with far, far less. And so many are living below the poverty line, living day-to-day.

It just feels wrong, especially when many of those on the upper echelon are making decisions about those near, at, or below the poverty level. 

The list was started in 1996 with the “original purpose ... to promote transparency  and accountability”, and “it has become increasingly clear that the Sunshine List  needs to be updated”. The threshold was set at $100,000 and has not been adjusted for inflation since it was started 27 years ago. 

Unfortunately, without the original amount being adjusted annually, or at least every five to ten years, for inflation, the list grows longer and longer (growing by 3769.6 per cent) and we sense that more and more public employees are ripping us off for outrageous incomes. 

My objective self (and Dutton Law) believe there is a need to change the base amount to account for inflation. With inflation, that $100,000 in 1996 is equivalent  to $170,078 in 2022 dollars (inflationtool.com), an increase of about 70%.

If the  baseline was changed to $170,078 the list would have grown by only 226.6% since  inception. To help put this discussion in context, the following table illustrates the  changes in average incomes and the next table average dwelling values which have  increased well beyond annual inflation.



In 1996, an average Grey Bruce dwelling cost the equivalent of 5.7 average  incomes; in 2021 it would take 10.7 average incomes for the same average house - an 89.3 per cent increase. Using the baseline of $100,000, in 1996 in Grey Bruce, it would  take the equivalent of 1.3 incomes to buy a dwelling and in 2021 this rose to 5.5,  an increase of 323.1 per cent. (Average income and dwelling values are from the  respective census data.) 

As one can see, it makes little sense to suggest that an income of $100,000 today has the same impact as it did 26 years ago. 

So, if the income level was raised to $170,078 to account for inflation, what would  the list look like today? The following table illustrates this and it is quite revealing.

Note: I include three major categories for which it is easy to pull out Grey Bruce data.


So, feel outrage if you want but remember that the current baseline of $100,000 is no longer relevant and needs to change.  

I will focus my outrage on the people at the top of the provincial list, two of whom are paid out of the public purse to the tune of $1,726,068 and $1,694,538 (+ taxable benefits of $7,340 and  $3,923 respectively).

Of the top ten highest earnings, four spots are held by Ontario Power Generation employees with a total “earnings” of $5,172,074 out of the top ten spots which total  $9,303,983. Oh, ya, plus benefits.

Mind you, I feel truly sorry for the person at number three  spot - he earns only $968,710, just over $725,828 less than his co-worker in number two spot.

David I.M. Clark - MA, BES, BA(Hon), MAd(Diploma) is a local independent researcher



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