By: Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Across the province, health workers swelled the Sunshine list, with the Smiths Falls area no exception.
The Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital saw a sharp increase in the number of people on the list, rising 55 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019. Barry Guppy, PSFDH’s president and chief executive officer, said the sharp increase is “almost exclusively” tied to the pandemic.
“The overwhelming majority of it is related to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Guppy.
These figures are released by the province under the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act. The Act, in place since 1996, makes public the salaries of Ontario public service and broader public sector employees who were paid $100,000 or more in 2020.
While there were a few additions to staff after the pandemic set in, Guppy said the increase in employees on the list was related to mostly overtime and workers being redeployed in the first few months of the pandemic following a shift to essential services.
The majority of the workers on the Sunshine List from the PSFDH did not earn substantially above the threshold, with 54 of the 66 on the disclosure list coming in under $115,000. Only two people from the hospital earned over $150,000.
Guppy earned $213,013.60 ($2,038.62) and the hospital’s vice-president of clinical services, chief nursing executive and chief human resources officer Nancy Shaw took in $166,854.76 ($1,655.59).
The rise in employees at the hospital on the list is in line with the province this year. In a release with the disclosure list, provincial officials said hospitals and boards of public health saw a 59-per-cent increase from the previous year.
“Staff in many sectors, notably health care, worked extraordinary hours to help keep Ontario safe,” read part of the statement.
“Pandemic-related payments, such as significant overtime hours and pandemic pay, resulted in higher incomes year-over-year for some employees, including the potential to surpass the $100,000 threshold.”
Guppy said he would be surprised if the number of PSFDH employees on the list did not drop once the pandemic eases out in the future.
“I would fully expect the numbers would start retreating back to a more normal state,” added Guppy.
The region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Paula Stewart, appeared to be the highest-paid local on the list, making $310,359 last year, with $947 in taxable benefits.
Including Stewart, 16 people from the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit were on the list.
Elsewhere in town, 31 employees of the Town of Smiths Falls appeared on the list, 21 of whom were members of the town police.
Police Chief Mark MacGillivray took in $170,558.32 ($792.12), with the remaining 20 police members on the list comprised of the deputy chief, sergeants, staff sergeants, constables, detective constables and a lieutenant dealing with logistics.
Of the remaining 10 town employees on the list, three are firefighters and seven work in the municipal services section.
When the Sunshine List first started 25 years ago, the benchmark for disclosure was $100,000, and it has remained so ever since despite inflation and the rise in the cost of living.
According to the release, compensation reflects not only growth or a natural progression of salary, but also overtime pay, severance pay and one-time performance-based payments.
Eight of the 10 municipalities in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville had at least one employee on the list.
North Grenville topped the local list for number of employees with 10. The Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands and Edwardsburg Cardinal each featured eight employees, with Rideau Lakes middling out at five.
In four cases – Elizabethtown-Kitley, Augusta, Merrickville-Wolford and Westport – only their chief administrative officer made the list.
Athens and Front of Yonge were the two municipalities with nobody on the list.