Ontario’s deputy ministers get 14 per cent pay bump

By Sabrina Nanji October 16, 2019

The minimum salary for Ontario’s top bureaucrats has increased by 14 per cent in recent years.

Deputy ministers are getting a pay bump, plus the possibility of an extra two to four per cent bonus for hitting performance targets.

According to an order-in-council dated September 26, the province’s 28 deputy ministers will bring in annual salaries ranging from $234,080 to $320,130, retroactive to June 30, 2018.  That’s up from the previous salary range, established in 2016, of $205,000 to $311,050 — a 14 per cent increase at the low end of the scale.

However, base salaries actually top out at $326,560, according to a spokesperson for Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy

That’s because DM wages have been climbing via a pay scale established by the ex-Liberal government three years ago, as well as through annual increases that mirror those of other public sector bargaining agreements. (DMs are not repped by a union).

Bethlenfalvy’s office says the minimum salary for DMs reached the $234,080 mark by October 1, 2017. That information is not publicly available. It includes a two-per-cent bump on top of the Liberal-established pay scale to reflect union agreements. 

DMs are also eligible for a “pay-for-performance” hike beyond their base salary.

Bethlenfalvy’s office says it has put an end to automatic pay increases and is instead tying compensation to performance.

“The pay-for-performance model ensures that compensation is only provided to leaders who successfully deliver outcomes that advance government priorities,” spokesperson Sebastian Skamski said in an email.

Under the PCs, DMs can receive pay hikes of between two and four per cent every year depending on how well they execute the government’s strategy. 

No additional funding is being provided and costs will be managed within existing allocations, Skamski added. “This ensures that any compensation adjustments are more than offset by efficiencies and savings.”

As Queen’s Park Today first reported in August, there was a recent shakeup at the DM level. The secretary of cabinet, Ontario’s top civil servant, is also relatively fresh. On June 20, the same day as the PC’s cabinet shuffle, Steven Davidson permanently took up the mantle from Steve Orsini, who resigned amid the Ron Taverner controversy.

Davidson rakes in $406,375 annually, plus potential pay-for-performance compensation. As of 2017 his predecessor was earning a base salary of $368,594 with automatic five-per-cent increases scheduled for each year after that.

Premier Doug Ford’s executive council ballooned to 28 ministers and 31 parliamentary assistants in June after a handful of portfolios were added. That’s up from the 21-large cabinet he introduced after coming to power last year but still below Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet of 29.

Weeks after taking office last summer, the PCs put a pause on hiring in the broader public service and froze executive salaries and capped performance pay. The change impacted bureaucrats earning over $100,000 at hospitals and school boards among others.

Correction:This story has been significantly updated after provincial officials provided Queen’s Park Today with more information two days after publishing. Check out Queen’s Park Today’s follow up story for more.