Nearly 40 per cent of all members of the Toronto police earned more than $100,000 in 2013.
The public salary disclosure numbers released in the latest Toronto Police Services Board agenda show 2,983 employees made this year’s “Sunshine List” — a small drop from 2012’s total of 3,181 employees earning six figures.
Councillor Adam Vaughan blamed Mayor Rob Ford for wage hikes that continued into 2014, thanks to a contract deal reached in 2011 for four years.
“He literally capitulated and gave them the richest contract that’s ever been handed out in the history of the city. So when we do that, people earning $89- $90,000 (are) suddenly earning over $100,000 very quickly,” Vaughan said. “We told everyone that’s what would happen, but everyone was so enamored by his reputation as fighting the gravy train they didn’t realize that he’d put every police officer in the city in that gravy train and driven it straight through police headquarters and straight through our budget process.”
Since 2011, the force and Chief Bill Blair in particular have come under fire from the mayor and Councillor Doug Ford, who have demanded to know how much the Project Brazen 2 investigation of the mayor and associates cost taxpayers.
At a press conference Friday, Ford singled out police spokesperson Mark Pugash, the fifth highest paid civilian on the force, when asked about the list.
“I support the frontline officers. You know, when you look at Mr. Pugash making $178,000 as a communications director, that’s pretty shocking,” Ford said. “But I support our frontline officers; they work hard, they deserve the money.”
But a 3.1 per cent hike in the 2014 police budget, which includes a plan to hire new officers even as crime falls, went unchallenged by the Ford brothers and much of council in January.
About three-quarters of the people on the Sunshine List had a base salary of more than $100,000. The other quarter made the cut because of extra income from overtime or payouts for vacation they didn’t take.
The highest police earner for 2013 was again Blair, making $337,652 in salary and benefits. But his pay fell $33,000 from last year, when he made $370,727. All but one of Blair’s senior management team also took significant pay decreases, together totaling just over $53,000.
When asked about the pay cut, board chair Alok Mukherjee said he could not discuss employment matters between the board and its members.
Base salaries have increased each year as a result of a 2011 contract that allowed for a more than 11 per cent increase over four years. That contract expires at the end of this year.
Anyone ranking higher than a constable automatically now earns a base of at least $100,000, according to the latest board report. In 2013, police constables made $88,844 to $96,846, according to that report.
Salary numbers for police officers do not include paid duty — when officers work extra shifts at construction sites, film shoots or other events — meaning some officers currently sitting just below the $100,000 mark on the list may actually be earning as much as their six-figure colleagues.
Salaries are determined by collective agreement with the police union, and the force has no say in wage increases, Pugash said.
He said there could be several explanations for the slight decrease in Sunshine earners, including the fact that last year there was a spike in people receiving back pay and a decrease in total member numbers through attrition. The force has been under a hiring freeze since 2011.
“We are down several hundred people,” Pugash said of the 7,700-strong outfit, which includes more than 5,000 officers. Senior officers were also cut by 10 per cent last year and not replaced, Pugash said.
Mukherjee and vice-chair Michael Thompson were away on business or not able to comment on the new numbers Friday.
The police board will discuss the new list at its meeting on March 13.