Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunshine List, $100,000 High Rollers ?

Mainstream media, or should I say media that has long forgot the necessary balance between being a successful business and selling papers or advertising space and being true to journalistic standards that report on a subject while leaving out the unnecessary right wing and short term thinking bias that is so much part of most mainstream media to-day has once again lived up to its reputation by unidimensionally reporting on the public sector employees who were compensated in excess of $100,000 in 2009; the sunshine list.

The first important piece of the report that is never discussed is that this mandatory reporting commenced only when the government of Mike Harris implemented this requirement. The Harris regime in its manic fear of a functioning and educated public service insisted on this report to further the Harris mantra of demonizing the Ontario Public Service to swing the so easily manipulated electorate of the time to believe that Harris' goal of privatization was not only financially prudent (which we know not to be true then nor is it today), but more sinister was the dark propaganda genius of not only requiring the reporting, but mounting the greatest campaign of misinformation about all unions in a generation or more. The reporting in concert with the campaign of misinformation lead those easily lead into a dislike of the public service thus requiring the dedicated public service workers, largely unionized, to fight to maintain their jobs and unable to provide the necessary public oversight that would have been provided to the public such that they would have seen the dogmatic direction of the Harris regime that certainly had no desire to look at anything in a broader social context for the general good in anyway shape or form.

In support of the poor reporting of this story lets examine the facts of those actually listed on the sunshine list. According to the Toronto Star, who seemed to report the story with some editorial conscience, most of the 63,671 Ontario public employees who made more than $100,000 last year aren't high rollers. They're nurses, police officers and garbage collectors who worked a lot of overtime, or mid-level bureaucrats who were pushed into the six-figure club by inflation. They certainly did better than the average Ontarian – who made $45,400 last year – but they weren't egregiously overpaid. And, as the government noted, if the annual "sunshine list" were indexed to inflation, the threshold would now be $130,000, not $100,000, and the list would be 70 per cent shorter.

By the way the overtime is often associated with the underhiring of full time staff.

While the sunshine list is still in existence and in reality still doing a great deal of harm to dedicated public service employees and unions in the public service the omission of such items of interest as the minimum wage is now only poised to reach $10.25 an hour. It took over 1,000 days to reach $10 and hour from the day the ten dollar minimum wage legislation was enacted almost three years ago. Further to this is the short term memory experienced by so many in the Ontario electorate; the three days of debate the Ontario government under Dalton McGinty took to give itself a 25% raise while continuing to attack the rights and benefits that were collectively bargained with Ontario public service unions while the minimum wage debate was still on.

The sunshine list has outlived its usefulness in its current structure and context as it puts the focus unfairly in only one area and was created out of malicious intent instead of a desire to provide fair and equitable disclosure.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council