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phil verster salary metrolinx ceo

Metrolinx CEO's salary has increased by 8 times since Doug Ford took over

It's hard to find anyone thrilled with the transit situation in the Greater Toronto Area. Missed deadlines, allegations of mismanaged construction, highly-politicized transit lines, clearcutting trees, and a host of other issues have the public frustrated with the powers that be.

Still, you'd never know it by looking at the exorbitant salaries of some transit execs.

We are still a few weeks away from the release of the 2022 Ontario Sunshine List, but a look into the previous figures released last March shows that, despite all of the negative headlines going back years, Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster has climbed the financial ladder to become the sixth-highest-paid public employee in Ontario since 2018.

It begs the question: did one of the province's top public-paid employees get another raise as the transit world crashed down around him?

It wasn't always like this. In his first year as CEO in 2017, Phil Verster was raking in a healthy salary of $104,576.50, including his $3,144 in annual benefits.

According to the Bank of Canada's inflation calculator, Verster's 2017 salary and benefits would have amounted to $122,656.37 if he were getting the inflation-adjusted salary hikes most of us would dream of having written into contracts.

But Verster made far more than that in 2021, accepting substantial salary and benefit hikes in 2018, 2019, and 2020 that brought his total earnings up to an astonishing $851,867.19 for an increase of $747,290.69 in just four years.

According to the Sunshine List, Verster's pay increased by a whopping 396.15 per cent in 2018 alone, jumping to $518,855.70. This just so happens to be the same year that Doug Ford was elected Ontario Premier.

So much for that Ford family pledge of stopping that gravy train.

The following year, the CEO's salary increased by a nominal 0.33 per cent to $520,543.59. But Verster was right back on his march towards seven figures the year after, accepting a 45.03 per cent salary increase to $754,950.89. That year being 2020, when the economy was tanking and many were pushed out of jobs amid an unprecedented health crisis.

But he wasn't done there, coming even closer to the million mark in 2021 with a 12.84 per cent wage increase to $851,867.19.

So, just to be clear, in 2021, a year the Eglinton Crosstown LRT failed to meet another opening-day deadline, Verster was given a roughly $100K raise for a job supposedly well-done.

Meanwhile, as executives accumulate more wealth, transit service hasn't exactly improved noticeably in the last few years.

In fact, service on the TTC — one of the many local and regional transit agencies operating under Metrolinx coordination — just got objectively worse through service cuts and increased wait times in Toronto's latest municipal budget.

There are indeed different revenue streams and funding agreements behind Metrolinx versus the TTC, but these recent service cuts and another year of no Eglinton Crosstown are probably not going to look great when Verster's updated earnings are revealed in the upcoming 2022 sunshine list.

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