PCs call for Hydro One salary disclosure; taken off list after utility's IPO
Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, February 11, 2017 11:21AM EST
TORONTO -- The Progressive Conservatives are calling on the Liberal government to publish Hydro One salaries when the so-called sunshine list of public-sector workers making more than $100,000 comes out.
Salaries at Hydro One were exempted from the annual public sector salary disclosure last year once the government sold the first 15-per-cent tranche of the formerly public utility.
The former Hydro One CEO was paid $745,000 in 2014, and about 3,800 workers were paid over $100,000 that year, but they're no longer included in the public disclosure.
The current Hydro One CEO, earns a $850,000 base salary that could rise to a maximum of $4 million with bonuses, but the salaries of thousands more are no longer known.
"Everything about this deal has happened behind a big, black curtain," said PC energy critic Todd Smith, noting the company is also no longer subject to oversight by legislative officers such as the ombudsman and auditor general.
The Tories have called before for Hydro One salaries to stay public at least while the government still owns at least 50 per cent -- about 30 per cent has been sold so far and the government intends to sell 60 per cent. Smith said he intends to introduce a private member's bill to amend the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act if the government doesn't heed his call this time.
"Clearly I think if we can continue to pressure the government to be more transparent about it, I think that's the goal here, is to provide that transparency to the public," he said.
A spokesman for Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault sounded unreceptive to Smith's call and suggested his press conference was an attempt to distract from good job numbers released Friday.
"As previously disclosed, Hydro One is now a publicly traded company and must annually and publicly report on the compensation of its executives, as they have always done," Colin Nekolaichuk said in a statement.
Publicly traded companies are obliged to disclose the salaries of their CEO, CFO and next three highest-paid executives if they earn more than $150,000.
Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt was appointed Aug. 31, 2015, and in the last four months of that year earned $1.3 million, according to the company's management information circular. The CFO could earn up to $1.5 million with bonuses. Three more executives earned $2.4 million in 2015.
NDP critic Catherine Fife said the general public has no patience for those types of salaries at Hydro One.
"It adds insult to injury to their already high hydro rates," she said.
The issue of executive compensation is top of mind right now as broader public sector agencies propose new packages for top brass as a wage freeze lifts -- and salaries floated by organizations such as colleges, transit agency Metrolinx and Ontario Power Generation have drawn criticism.
Premier Kathleen Wynne told OPG it must come up with a more reasonable salary range than the $3.8-million cap it arrived at for the CEO. That would be a raise of about 153 per cent from the current $1.5 million the CEO earns, though OPG has said the actual salary would be significantly less than the cap.
Wynne's comments last week came after her government faced days of criticism for raises totalling up to $8 million for about 80 executives at OPG and a potential raise of up to $118,000 for the head of Metrolinx.