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August 6, 2008

WSIB president salary 'shady'

"The people who ultimately pay Workplace Safety and Insurance Board president Jill Hutcheon will be outraged when they learn her salary was split in two on the provincial Sunshine List, allowing the board to report it paid her nearly $750,000 less than it actually did, critics charged yesterday. . . . 'this does appear as if the WSIB was hiding her salary by dividing it between two pots' . . . Senior executives at the WSIB are paid out of insurance premiums paid by employers, while tax money funds the Labour Ministry. . . Both WSIB chairman Steve Mahoney and Labour Minister Brad Duguid did not respond to requests for interviews yesterday. "

By Jonathan Jenkin

TORONTO -- The people who ultimately pay Workplace Safety and Insurance Board president Jill Hutcheon will be outraged when they learn her salary was split in two on the provincial Sunshine List, allowing the board to report it paid her nearly $750,000 less than it actually did, critics charged yesterday.

"It certainly has the appearance of some kind of accounting mischief," Progressive Conservative finance critic Tim Hudak said yesterday.

Under provincial salary disclosure laws -- the so-called Sunshine List -- the WSIB has reported Hutcheon earned $844,000 in salary and benefits between 2003 and 2006.

ADDITIONAL SALARY

But because the Labour Ministry says she joined the board on secondment from her old job, it continued to pay her a deputy minister's salary for those same years, earning her an additional $744,000.

The Labour Ministry paid Hutcheon the money, but was then reimbursed for it by the board.

"Without any explanation from the minister of labour -- who seems to have gone missing -- this does appear as if the WSIB was hiding her salary by dividing it between two pots," Hudak said.

Senior executives at the WSIB are paid out of insurance premiums paid by employers, while tax money funds the Labour Ministry.

The province's conflict of interest commissioner, Sidney Linden, says splitting salaries this way could lead to "adverse inferences" and is reviewing the rules that allow it and secondments in general.

NO COMMENT

Both WSIB chairman Steve Mahoney and Labour Minister Brad Duguid did not respond to requests for interviews yesterday.

"It's important for the commissioner to set guidelines but my goodness," New Democrat MPP Peter Kormos said.

"The chair of the WSIB is Steve Mahoney -- a long time politico. He should know better. It all goes to accountability of people in leadership."

The whole point of the salary disclosure law is to allow taxpayers to see where their money goes, Kormos said.

"We don't know how often this is occurring," he said. "This is just bureaucrats playing games to get around the rules.

"It's cheap pettifoggery."

The WSIB is supposed to be an arm's-length Crown agency of the Labour Ministry, said Kevin Gaudet, Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesman.

"Either they're hiding something or they've grossly violated the idea of arm's length," Gaudet said.

"It's weird."

CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan called Hutcheon's salary arrangement "frankly shady."


http://ottsun.canoe.ca/News/National/2008/08/06/6361041-sun.html



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