Wednesday, April 21, 2010


  • City Councillor : $ 99,535 plus $ 21, 246 benefits = $ 120,781
  • Mayor : $ 167,627 plus $ 30,941 benefits = $ 198,568
  • School Trustee : $ 26,000 plus ?

+City councillors (44 of them) also get a $53,100 office expenses budget that they can pretty much do what they want with.

+ School trustee politician used to be considered a part time position, but in 2006 they voted themselves a raise from $5,000 to $26,000 a year (a 420% increase). Chair of the TDSB, Bruce Davis, earns $33,000 a year. There are now over a thousand people working for the TDSB earning over $100,000 a year. The TDSB is facing a $12 million shortfall in its budget.

The city is spending $50,000 on a consultant's study to determine whether city politicians should make more or less money after the October 25, 2010 election. This automatic review was set by council in 2006 to try to defuse extreme public anger over the 8.6% plus an annual 2.2% January 1st 'cost of living' (inflation) raise they awarded themselves. Basically, a comparison of politician salaries in 12 Canadian cities is done and Toronto's compensation is set at the 75th percentile.

Comparisons are often made to other jurisdictions, like Mississauga where long-serving Mayor McCallion earns $ 185,835 while Mississauga councillors make $ 130,095 . In Vaughan, many councillors make over $100,00. The provincially mandated 'Sunshine List'* shows that many TTC union operators and Police make over $100,000. (One TTC operator made over $165,000, but that included a lot of overtime; a total of 724 TTC employees made the list).


Political Election Spin: As happened in previous election years, incumbent politicians and many challengers make promises that they will not accept a pay raise, either returning it to the city coffers or donating to a charity of their choice.

THE REALITY: In a $ 9.2 BILLION city budget, the compensation for all politicians amounts to less than one per cent. About 70% of the operating budget goes to TTC, Social Services, Police, Fire, Ambulance and Health. So it could be argued that the cost of democracy is small compared to the overall cost of running the city. As well, a single councillor currently represents about 50,000 constituents. Prior to the forced amalgamation of the city by Mike Harris, there used to be two councillors per ward - a kind of junior and senior councillor. There was also much more duplication of services as there were several cities within what is now the GTA.


  • $100,000 a year is enough for a city councillor and $200,000 is appropriate for the leadership position of Mayor who has much more complex a position.
  • $ 50,000 office expense budgets are appropriate only if they are strictly controlled. That includes a fair market rental payment for a constituency office that should be placed in an easily accessible central area within a ward. (Perhaps it could be city owned property and cost would be an administrative one within city budgets? Perhaps it could be a permanent placement that is not up to the individual who could decide to favour one spot in the ward over others for political reasons?) It would include at most three staff (or a number to be determined so as to ensure equal city-wide representation on a constituent per capita basis ?). I would prohibit individual councillors from using office expenses to curry voting favour by selecting charitable/community endeavours as worthy of a slefish 'grant' and would instead install a system whereby a lottery grant or points system would be made available in each ward.
  • COMMITTEE CHAIRS : Should be selected by council as a whole and not just by the Mayor or his executive. Reason? We want chairs who will forward a collaborative not competitive approach to committee and council work. No additional compensation should be awarded. In particular, the extremely important position of TTC CHAIR should be a separate elected position, much like what happens in the USA with Sheriff or judges. The TTC needs someone who is skilled in urban transportation and available to devote 100% of time to this without penalizing ward constituents.
  • NUMBER OF POLITICIANS: It is ridiculous in my view to advocate cutting our poolitical representation further. True, effective democracy is messy and costs both in dollars, time and effort. We need a new way to ensure citizen engagement ! Many of the ideas being put forward by the Better Ballots group are worthy of discussion and debate:!/group.php?gid=169227078603