Threshold still stands

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It’s fitting that just after we adjust our clocks to Daylight Savings Time, when we have more sunlight later in the day, that the light is shone on the $100,000 public service earners in the province.

Provincially funded organizations and municipalities have until the end of the month to publish their lists of staff members who make $100,000 or more in the previous year.

That’s been the case since 1996 when the Mike Harris government passed the Ontario Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act.

Kudos to the Municipality of Chatham-Kent for releasing their $100,000-plus earners for 2018 on Monday. It could have clung to those figures until March 31, but elected to publish the list early.

This year, there are 250 personnel from the municipality on the Ontario Public Sector Salary Disclosure list, also known as the sunshine club. That’s up from 228 a year ago.

The list includes a whack of fire service personnel – 62 – and twice as many police service staffers – 124. A staggering number of these people – about 40 of the firefighters and nearly 90 police officers – are frontline personnel. We’re talking about police constables and general firefighters.

Overtime can help push these people into the $100,000-plus spotlight.

But, considering the threshold hasn’t moved from the $100,000 mark since the act’s inception 23 years ago, it really isn’t surprising to see the numbers increase annually.

As Cathy Hoffman, the municipality’s head of human resources, said, the Consumer Price Index has never been applied to the threshold. If it had, the reporting level would be closer to $152,000 instead of $100,000. If that threshold had moved, only 15 people would be on the C-K portion of the sunshine list, Hoffman said.

It does skew the numbers somewhat.

But the fact remains, at least in places such as Chatham-Kent, that $100,000 is still a great deal of income, especially for a single income earner. The same comment may not be true in places such as Toronto and other urban centres with higher costs of living, but you can do a heck of a lot in terms of home ownership, vacationing, purchasing material items and just enjoying life on $100,000 or more in income each year in C-K.

Plus, we, the taxpayers, are paying for those salaries.

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