Straddling both the private and public sectors, Toronto Hydro is tricky to define. Its executive payouts call into question: who runs the show? Energy Probe is quoted in this look at Hydro exec earnings by the Toronto Star’s Christine Dobby.
The century-old utility, which provides power to almost 700,000 homes, is 100-per-cent owned by the city of Toronto. But the Star has learned that when Toronto Hydro was asked to reduce its executive bonuses to bring them in line with a city policy on bonuses paid out to top brass at other city-owned corporations and agencies, the company’s board politely refused.
Of note, writes Dobby:
Toronto Hydro’s board committed in 2015 to bring the CEO’s bonus target down to 40 per cent of salary, still above the city guidelines, but at least in line with the rest of the city-owned utility’s top executives.
Yet, the new bonus target will only take effect when Haines retires and a new CEO is named…. Haines’s “active service will cease” at the end of 2024.
Dobby cites the concerns of stakeholder groups like Energy Probe:
Energy Probe, which advocates for lower electricity rates (and opposes government carbon price programs) also said it had “major concerns about the levels of executive incentive pay (bonuses)” at Toronto Hydro.
Glen Hodgson, an economist with the C.D. Howe Institute, says executive pay is “really the call of the board, it’s not the call of city officials or the council, because that’s why you created a state-owned enterprise in the first place and not another department of the city government.” He said if the city is unhappy with executive pay, it should raise that with the board of directors.
Retired engineering technician and decade-long local union leader for the utility, Bruno Silano, says the issue raises a whole set of questions about Hydro’s leadership and the capacity of the board to stand up to them.