Hospital CEO pay to soar as boards use big banks to justify excess

The following is a media release from Service Employees International Union (SEIU). It’s a situation residents of St. Thomas/Elgin can relate to with the case of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital CEO Paul Collins’ retire/rehire in June 2010 in a classic example of double dipping. While his salary is stable this year, watch for the nature of salary increases over the remainder of his five-year contract.

TORONTO, Dec. 9, 2011 /CNW/ – Hospital CEO pay will only continue to soar in the wake of a report that uses the salaries of big-bank CEOs and millionaire insurance executives as a benchmark, according to a union representing more than 50,000 healthcare workers in Ontario.

“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).

SEIU called on Ontario to follow the example of other provinces by stepping in to directly set compensation for executives at publicly-funded hospitals, starting with a salary cap. The union representing hospital workers urged the province to conduct a truly-independent review – with input from frontline staff – that looks at excessive layers of management in the health system.

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

Staff urged the province to block a plan announced in the wake of the report to pay hospital CEOs in the style of high-rolling bankers 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,” said Ms. Stewart.

The Ontario Hospital Association said today it would press ahead with a regime that will permit hospital boards to continue awarding double-digit pay increases to CEOs, following the report by the CEO of the Canadian Council of CEOs.

“This report sends a signal to hospital CEOs they can keep pocketing massive pay increases because they haven’t caught up with Bay St yet. That is absolutely the wrong message to send.”

The report acknowledged Ontario is the only province that lets local boards stacked with wealthy donors set the pay for CEOs with whom they have cozy relationships.

“This has gone too far, the province must step in,” said Ms. Stewart.

Public records show hospital CEOs in Ontario have continued to pocket out-sized increases in salary, perks and bonuses.

Despite calls for restraint, Humber River Regional Hospital CEO Rueben Devlin recently pocketed a 10% pay increase, while Windsor hospital CEO Warren Chant nabbed a 35% pay hike, according to the latest public disclosures.

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