In 1996, the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act was enacted and let the Government of Ontario share the names of employees in the public sector who had a salary of $100,000 or more. This was enacted presumably as a way of ensuring accountability for public funds. The release of the list has become an annual event which somehow passes for news in Ontario media.
I must admit poking around at a few news sources to see how it was reported.
And, that was pretty much enough for me. There was no news here. It could have been a reprint of the stories from last year. “There are some people making a lot of money and here they are…”.
There were some things that could have been added to present a fair and balanced news “story”.
- $100,000 was a huge amount in 1996; with inflation, the same salary is ~$135,000;
- Yes, they make a great deal of money but they also pay a great deal in income tax;
- Here’s how much these people spent on university/college and training and continue to spend to get where they are;
- How long did it take for these people to actually reach this level?;
- For the numbers in these stories, there are thousands more in the same public service area making less than $100,000 – most a great deal less.
Somehow, these didn’t end up in the stories. So forget the fair and balanced part.
So, what is the purpose of this “news story”? Since they don’t attempt to cover all angles, the goal must be to inflame the public. And, inflame it did. One of the powerful things about posting news stories to the web is the ability for the general public to comment on the stories.
And comment they did.
If you were to gauge public opinion by the comments, we have a world of people that hate firefighters, police officers, the judiciary, teachers, professors, and utility workers. It’s pretty difficult to see how this is news.
The entire Public Salary Disclosure resource is available here.