A union representing more than 50,000 healthcare workers in Ontario announced on Friday that hospital CEO pay will only continue to soar as reports use the salaries of big-bank CEOs and millionaire insurance executives as a benchmark.

"Hospital CEOs are out of touch and should be held accountable to the public, not to Bay Street," said Sharleen Stewart, head of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

They called on Ontario to conduct a truly independent review of CEO salary with frontline staff input, that looks at excessive layers of management in the health system.

They urged that CEOs of hospitals should not get paid the same way “high-rolling” bankers do and use “private-sector salaries as a guide for publicly-funded institutions.”

"This is about the top 1% looking after each other while the other 99% of society gets left out in the cold."

As reported in the Digital Journal the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) created a panel last summer to review executive compensation policies and practices in the province's 151 public hospitals.

Conducting the review voluntarily without compensation, panel members noted that Ontario is the only Canadian province where every hospital is governed by voluntary local board directors who are responsible for determining the compensation of the hospital's President and CEO.

The report says that “the wide range of compensation levels at mid-size hospitals . . . highlights the need for a more consistent approach to determining hospital CEO compensation."

"This has gone too far, the province must step in," said Stewart.

An outline of the Panel’s recommendations of hospital CEO compensations can be found below.

  • Hospital boards should use a standard Hospital Executive Compensation Framework to determine compensation for their senior executives.
  • The 25th percentile of the private sector should be used as a reference point to determine the total cash compensation for Ontario hospital CEOs, controlling for organization revenues.
  • The OHA, in consultation with its member hospitals, should develop a standard compensation template for hospital boards to use in determining CEO base salaries.
  • All hospitals should, within three years, introduce pay-for-performance programs for their CEOs, ranging from 10% to 30% of base pay, linked to the achievement of hospital strategic priorities and performance improvement targets.
  • Hospital CEO severance agreements should be standardized according to best practice and legal precedent.
  • All hospitals should be required to make public - on their websites and in a timely fashion - comprehensive information about the compensation paid to their CEOs and senior executives.
  • The OHA should develop education programs and provide coaching for hospital board members and executives who require assistance in transitioning to these new compensation practices.
  • Hospital boards should be responsible for approving the compensation policies that apply to hospital staff who report directly to the CEO.

Public records show that, despite calls for restraint Humber River Regional Hospital CEO Rueben Devlin recently pocketed a 10% pay increase, while Windsor hospital CEO Warren Chant took a 35% pay hike.

"Public hospitals were built to provide people with necessary medical care, not for executives to use as personal piggy banks," said Stewart.