Time to freeze pay of health-sector CEOs
TheStar.com – Opinion/Commentary – Health Minister Deb Matthews claims money is tight, but ignores huge pay raises for CCAC executives
Apr 09 2014. By: Bob Hepburn, Politics
Did you get a $67,000 pay raise last year, a 27-per-cent increase that pushed your salary to $315,000?
I bet you didn’t, but that’s the shockingly high pay hike given to one of the top executives in Ontario’s cash-strapped health-care system in 2013.
The pay raise last year to Gilles Lanteigne, chief executive officer of the Champlain Community Care Access Centre based in Ottawa, was not unique.
In fact, huge salary increases were routinely paid in 2013 to executives and senior managers of the 14 Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) and 14 Local Health Integration Networks that govern community health care and health spending across Ontario
Critically, the salary hikes came despite repeated claims by Health Minister Deb Matthews that her budget is tight and the province is acting to rein in executive pay packages.
The truth is that these increases — and Matthews’ failure to act as promised — are an insult to the tens of thousands of low-paid therapists, personal support workers and nurses who actually provide face-to-face care to patients.
Many of them earn less than $20,000 a year and haven’t seen a pay raise in years.
Worse, the highly paid executives who get huge raises are the very people who complain about lack of health-care funds, who squeeze private service providers for more services for less money and who demand cost-cutting in their own operations.
And at the centre of this mess is Matthews, the ineffective health minister who either can’t see the outrages or who simply can’t be bothered to order the shakeup the system so desperately needs.
Here are the CEO salaries for 2013 at the 14 CCACs in Ontario. The figures were released two weeks ago under Ontario’s “sunshine” law requiring the listing of all salaries over $100,000.
1. Toronto Central: This CCAC serves the central part of Toronto; Stacey Daub $233,538 ($233,380 in 2012). Some 35 managers at the agency earned more than $100,000 in 2013.
2. Central: North Toronto and most of York Region; Cathy Szabo $277,609 ($271,734 in 2012).
3. Central East: Based in Ajax and serving much of Durham Region; Donald Ford $181,890 in 2013 ($182,160 in 2012).
4. Central West: Based in Brampton; Catherine Hecimovich $267,333 ($243,159 in 2012).
5. Mississauga Halton: Based in Oakville; Caroline Brereton $246,002 ($229,890 in 2012).
6. Champlain: Based in Ottawa; Gilles Lanteigne $314,991 ($247,860 in 2012).
7. Erie St. Clair: Based in Chatham; Betty Kuchta $220,751 (same as in 2012).
8. Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant: Based in Grimsby; Melody Miles $300,050 ($265,949 in 2012).
9. North East: Based in Sudbury; Richard Joly $288,000 ($260,323 in 2012).
10. North West: Based in Thunder Bay; Tuija Puiras $204,691 (down from drop $208,774 in 2012).
11, North Simcoe Muskoka: Based in Orillia; Megan Allen-Lamb $200,002 (predecessor paid $199,877 in 2011, the latest year available).
12. South East: Based in Belleville; Jacqueline Redmond $235,238 ($220,000 in 2012)
13. South West: Based in London; Sandra Coleman $288,462 ($267,500 in 2012).
14. Waterloo Wellington: Based in Kitchener; Tim Ellis, $255,000 (predecessor paid $227,995 in 2011, latest full year available).
That’s an average salary of $250,700 a year, up 7 per cent from 2012.
Salaries also rose sharply for many LHIN executives. For example, Camille Orridge, CEO of the Toronto Central LHIN, earned $305,000 in 2013, a $15,000 raise over 2012. William MacLeod, head of the Mississauga Halton LHINs saw his salary jump to $327,000 in 2013 from $305,260.
At the same time, Margaret Mottershead, the now-retired CEO of the Ontario Association of CCACs (OACCAC), was paid $319,283 in 2013, up from $313,500 in 2012. Some 40 OACCAC managers and employees earned more than $100,000 in 2013.
After a seriesof columns earlier this year outlining similar executive pay raises since Matthews became health minister in 2009, an Ontario legislative committee in late March authorized Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk to conduct a major review of CCAC operations.
Lysyk will look into executive pay rates, CCAC operating costs and expenses, as well as review contracts between CCACs and community care providers.
Unfortunately, the auditor’s probe, which will not get under way until mid-May, won’t be completed until early 2015. By then, another wave of pay hikes will have occurred.
Until then, Matthews should take immediate steps to prevent further abuses. She can start by calling CCAC and LHINs executives on the carpet and demand they immediately freeze their own salaries.
Until she does, Matthews will remain a discredited minister, one who insists there’s no money in her budget to give decent raises to health-care workers who actually treat patients while their bosses in the executive ranks enjoy lavish salaries and hefty annual increases.
Her inaction isn’t just disappointing. It’s scandalous.
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