Record number of Niagara Region government employees on the 2023 sunshine list

Across the province of Ontario, 300,570 government employees were on the sunshine list for 2023, which is an increase of more than 10 per cent from the total in 2022. Pictured: Former Niagara Region Police Chief Bryan MacCulloch. Photo Credit: NRPS. 

Ontario’s sunshine list of government employees earning more than $100,000 was released last month and a record number of employees working directly for the Niagara Regional Municipality were on the list, costing taxpayers nearly $180 million. 

At the top of the list was former police chief Bryan MacCulloch, who earned $395,647 last year. Former deputy chiefs Brett Flynn (retired) and Bill Fordy (now the Region’s new police chief) also came near the top, earning $285,168 and $284,262 respectively.

Right behind MacCulloch in taking the top salary was Ron Tripp, Niagara Region’s Chief Administrative Officer, who brought home $290,556 in 2023. Dr. Azim Kasmani, the Region’s Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner of Public Health and Emergency Services, was paid $286,876. His predecessor, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, who now works in Sudbury, took home $286,390. 

The Niagara Regional Police had the highest number of employees on the sunshine list who are categorized as directly working for Niagara Region. A record 813 employees made the list in 2023, an increase of 172 over 2022. 

Other government employees in the Niagara area paid by taxpayers but not directly working for the Niagara Regional Municipality earned even more money. 

Dr. Johan Viljoen, former chief of staff and executive vice-president of medical affairs at Niagara Health, earned the most of any government employee in the Niagara area, with a salary of $587,406 for 2023. Viljoen retired last September, meaning his salary was earned during the first nine months of the year.

Viljoen was one of 1,312 people working for Niagara Health earning more than $100,000 in 2023. That total number increased by 479 over the total number on the sunshine list for Niagara Health in 2022.

The Chief Administrative Officers of all of the Niagara Regional Municipality’s cities were also on the list. St. Catharines’ David Oakes earned $271,758 in 2023. Steve Zorbas, Welland’s former CAO, was paid $297,915 despite being fired partway through the year. Niagara Falls’ Jason Burgess was paid $275,842, while Fort Erie’s Chris McQueen made $208,076. 

In total, 203 city of St. Catharines employees of were on the list, followed by 192 from Niagara Falls and 88 from Welland. The Township of Wainfleet had the lowest number of employees on the sunshine list of all of the Region’s 12 municipalities, with a total of eight employees making more than $100,000. That was led by CAO William Kolasa, who made $153,961. 

Three employees of Brock University made more than $300,000, including president and vice-chancellor Lesley Rigg Goldblum ($367,490), and professors Martin Kusy ($326,793) and Dirk De Clercq ($362,695). Niagara College’s Sean Kennedy was the only employee at his school to cross the $300,000 mark ($306,353). 

The District School Board of Niagara had 1,476 sunshine list members, while the Niagara Catholic District School Board had 832 members. 

Across the province of Ontario, 300,570 government employees were on the sunshine list for 2023, which is an increase of more than 10 per cent from the total in 2022. 

The top earner in the province of Ontario for yet another year was Kenneth Hartwick, CEO of Ontario Power Generation. He received $1.93 million in compensation. 


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