This week’s update on Northern Ontario mayors’ salaries has caused a stir, with people taking to social media to express surprise over Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger’s salary and benefits.
Last year, Bigger took home a total of $228,873, including $180,448 in remuneration and $48,435 in fringe benefits, according to the city’s year-end report.
In this same timeframe, the total salaries and benefits Greater Sudbury’s 12 city councillors received increased from $739,490 to $908,778, which is a 22.89 per cent increase.
Sudbury.com reached out to Bigger’s office for a phone interview on Thursday morning but was not granted one by the end of the day Friday.
Greater Sudbury city council’s 2020 remunerations were initially reported in April, but the issue was given a second wind this week as a result of news coverage surrounding a City of Timmins report on Northern Ontario mayors as part of that municipality’s review of remunerations.
Bigger is the highest-earning mayor in the region. Timmins Mayor George Pirie follows with his 2020 earnings of $101,786, which includes $98,409.34 in remuneration and $3,376 in expenses. Timmins’ population is 41,788 and Greater Sudbury’s population is 161,531.
Mayor and council pay rates were set several years ago as a result of an exercise comparing rates among similarly sized municipalities, Greater Sudbury general manager of corporate services Kevin Fowke told Sudbury.com, adding, “that exercise hasn’t been carried out for members of council in several years.”
As per a city bylaw, their pay has increased annually based on whatever rate is afforded to the city’s largest collective bargaining units.
In 2021, Fowke said, this constituted a 1.6 per cent increase and in 2022 it’s slated to be a 1.5 per cent increase.
Apart from this, the only change city council has made to their pay in recent years was in the 2019 budget, which came in response to changes in Canada Revenue Agency guidelines.
Until then, one-third of the pay the city’s elected officials received was considered tax-exempt. With these earnings becoming taxable in 2019, city councillors’ pay was increased by approximately $6,000 each and the mayor’s pay was increased by $45,000 to make up the difference.
Although Greater Sudbury city council pay rates have been progressing in the same manner for the past several years, aside from the 2019 change, a few recent comparables point to elected officials receiving a wide range of compensation in Ontario.
The Ontario Sunshine List recorded a salary for Premier Doug Ford of $208,974 plus $316 in taxable benefits. To put Bigger in the same context, the Ontario Sunshine List recorded his salary paid as $181,504 and taxable benefits of $10,468.
The following is an Ontario Sunshine List ranking of Ontario mayors of municipalities with populations greater than 100,000 from greatest pay plus taxable benefits to least. The list only includes those who earn at least $100,000, and those municipalities with mayoral vacancies were not included:
- Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti: $281,556
- Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua: $206,665
- Windsor Mayor Andrew Dilkens: $206,408
- Oakville Mayor $200,798
- Toronto Mayor John Tory: $198,806
- Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger: $197,126
- Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson: $196,980
- Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward: $193,042
- Greater Sudbury Brian Bigger: $191,972
- Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie: $169,738
- Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown: $166,342
- London Mayor Edwin Holder: $155,212
- Mississauga Mayor $150,582
- Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman: $131,529
- St. Catharines Mayor: $126,236
- Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff: $116,047
- Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky: $113,583
- Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic: $110,805
- Thunder Bay Mayor Bill Mauro: $110,529
- Cambridge Mayor Kathryn Mcgarry: $108,320
The average among these mayoral compensation totals is $166,614.
Fowke said that it’s up to city council whether they wish to review their compensation, but that this usually takes place during the first year of a council’s mandate.
“That’s something future council could choose to have a look at, at their discretion.”