Over 1,400 Lambton public servants on Sunshine List

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Heather Wright/The Independent

There are over 1,400 Lambton County public servants on the so-called Sunshine List of public employees who make more than $100,000 a year.

The province released this year’s Public Salary Disclosure Act list the day before the Easter Long weekend. This year, every Lambton County municipal government had at least one staff member on the list – a first.

The Lambton-Kent District School Board has the most people with salaries over $100,000. Many of the 906 are elementary and secondary school teachers. The St. Clair Catholic District School board had 140 people on the list, also with some elementary and secondary school teachers with the final entry on the list a secondary school teacher making $100,057.06.

Both public Director of Education John Howitt and Associate Director Brian McKay were on the list with salaries of $257,000 and $213,440 respectively.

The head of the Catholic board, Scott Johnson, is listed as being paid $251,361.

The Chief Executive Officer of Bluewater Health, Paula Reaume-Zimmer, is the highest paid public sector worker in Lambton at $314,183.77. There are 358 people at the hospital who make more than $100,000.

Lambton College President Rob Kardas is next on the list at $295,546.73. There are 141 people at the college who reported more than $100,000 in earnings.

Lambton County’s Medical Officer of Health Karalyn Dudeck is the third highest paid civil servant with a salary of $292,759.19.

In rural Lambton County, every municipality now has at least one employee on the Sunshine List. Brooke-Alvinston and Enniskillen were absent from the 2022 list.

St Clair Township has the most administrators on the list with 16. CAO John Rodey is the highest paid administrator of the lower tier municipalities at $189,053 with about $1,050 in taxable benefits. Fire Chief Richard Boyes draws the second highest salary at $161,179.

Petrolia has four administrators on the Sunshine List, with CAO Rick Charlebois making over $163,614. Director of Operations Mike Thompson, Clerk Mandi Pearson and Former Fire Chief Jay Arns all made less than $110,000.

There are five administrators on the list in Plympton-Wyoming with CAO Adam Sobanski topping the list at just over $152,000. That’s compared to over $178,000 of the former administrator.

Warwick Township has three administrators on the list including the CAO Amanda Gubbels at $132,449 and the Treasurer Trevor Jarrett at $120,726.

Dawn-Euphemia’s Administrator and Public Works Manager were both on the list with Administrator Donna Clermont making $113,000 and Paul Dalton in public works making just under $118,000.

Brooke-Alvinston and Enniskillen’s Administrators, Janet Denkers and Duncan McTavish also made the list this year – Denkers making $103,000 and McTavish earning just $400 over the magic $100,000 line.

There are 150 people in Lambton County making more than $100,000. CAO Stephane Thiffeault’s salary is listed as $273,240. Former CAO, Ron VanHorne, who retired Feb. 28, also made the list. He was paid $101,672.95 in 2023.

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey was paid $146,538.72 in 2023. Former Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP and Cabinet Minister Monte McNaughton made $125,035.59 before stepping down in September.
2023 was the first year the number of public servants on the list topped 300,000.

Critics of the list say the $100,000 mark, set in 1996 when the Public Salary Disclosure Act came into force, was arbitrary. In a report to council March 25, CAO Rick Charlebois said if the salary figure would have been adjusted to the rate of inflation, the threshold would be about $183,000.