A few weeks ago in class, we were discussing how and when to bring up the issue of salary in the job hunting process. Most people kind are of squeamish about this. Toronto city council, however, has been quite open about this in recent weeks and to much controversy.
A recent report by the consultants of the Hay group recommends the mayor of Toronto receive a pay raise of $16,000, an increase of 9.4 per cent. Currently, Toronto's mayor earns just under $168,000. With the increase, the mayor would earn just under $184,000.
In 2006, Toronto city council recommended that the salaries of councillors and the mayor be studied before each term in office.
One argument for Toronto's mayor to get a raise is that Toronto is Canada's largest city and the mayor's current salary is less than his counterparts in other large cities. The mayors of York and Mississauga earn over $180,000, and the mayor of Montreal earns over $190,000. Toronto's mayor also earns less than the CEO/Director of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the President of George Brown College and Toronto's Chief of Police.
As well, there is the issue of the job itself. It's been suggested that the democratic process comes at a price and that we have to offer good money to attract good candidates. While salary is important to any job, and being the mayor of Toronto is definitely an important job, I believe there is much more to it. As an optimist, I think and hope that the candidates want to be mayor because they believe they can change the city for the better.
The issue of salaries, including councillors' salaries which the report recommends stay the same at about $100,000, was deferred at an August 16 meeting of the executive committee until after the election.
George Smitherman, a leading candidate, said he would freeze salaries for four years and suggested councillors pay back the money that the report cost. Other candidates have made similar statements.
Although optimistic, the cynical part of totally disagrees with the fact that the mayor and councillors have the power to give themselves raises. No matter how much we like or what we think of the candidates, there has to be more accountability than voting every four years. Maybe the provincial government should take over that responsibility?
There is only so much money for the city, and we are always hearing our councillors saying they wish they had more money to work with. Some councillors have given back their cost of living increases, which is commendable to say the least. But money talks, and only time will tell what the new city council will have to say.