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Red Lake Hospital unveils CEO contract details

Lisa Dumontier

Following the lead of other hospitals province-wide, the Red Lake Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital unveiled its current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) contract on January 11, 2012. Noting that the information would have been posted sooner had the CEO been in town over the holidays, the Hospital’s release of information was prompted by new provisions under Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act which—as of January 1st—require all provincial hospitals to make their executive contracts available to the public.

Signed on August 17, 2011, the contract between the Red Lake Hospital and current CEO Paul Chatelain outlines a base salary of $149,500 with a bonus system and other contractual allocations. Taking over from acting CEO Hal Fjeldsted, Chatelain signed on at the Red Lake Hospital to work under the supervision of the Hospital’s Board of Directors for an indeterminate period of time beginning on October 10, 2011 and in addition to six weeks holidays, will also get full benefits, relocation allowance reimbursement of $13,000 including a travel allowance, moving allowance and return trips between Red Lake and Stitsville, Ontario. Upon arriving in Red Lake, Chatelain was also given access to a home owned by the Hospital to be used as his temporary residence with no obligation to pay any rental or lease fees for a period no longer than twelve months and is also entitled to consideration for an annual performance-based bonus of up to three per cent of his base salary at the discretion of the Board.

While some might find these figures staggering, compensation for the local CEO is on par with other regional hospital executives who are also earning well into the six figures. At the Lake of the Woods District Hospital, CEO Mark Balcaen is earning $170,000 annually plus benefits, mileage allowance and automobile insurance—the difference in cost incurred to upgrade from personal to business—while Dryden Regional Health Centre CEO Wade Petranik is currently collecting $177,000 annually plus benefits and like Chatelain, is able to earn a three per cent performance based bonus however due to a salary freeze in place until April of 2012, this three per cent is currently being deducted from the CEO’s base pay with the potential to earn it back based on performance.

President and CEO of Sioux Lookout Meno-Ya-Win hospital David Murray is faring slightly better with an annual base salary of $220,000 while Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre CEO Andrée Robichaud is collecting $390,000 annually plus a host of perks that include $60,000 for moving costs reimbursement, five weeks vacation, a $11,400 vehicle allowance, mileage and full benefits. Her management team consists of eight other hospital representatives earning salaries in the range of $180,000-$238,754.

“The Hospital Board was very pleased to hire Paul Chatelain in August, after a thorough recruitment process with an executive search firm. The salary/benefits package provided to the new CEO is in line with regional salary levels, recommendations by the Search Firm and subject to the Ontario Health Wage Freeze,” said Eleanor Vachon, Red Lake Hospital Board Chair. “With the ongoing budget restraints and regulations in the health field, we are confident that the new CEO will continue operating the hospital to the highest standard.”

Rallying for years to put an end to exorbitant public sector executive wages, the New Democrat Party has reiterated its call for a $418,000 salary cap for Ontario hospital CEOs noting that, in a province facing a $16-billion deficit and prepping to trim health care spending increases to three per cent a year from more than double that figure, CEO salaries to the tune of $700,000 are unacceptable. “When patients are coping with closed ERs and growing wait times, there’s no way to justify spending scarce health dollars on private clubs and $700,000 salaries,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “We need to get our priorities in check and CEO salaries down to levels we see in other provinces.”

“The only person who should be waiting in a hospital is the CEO waiting for another raise,” she continued noting that in addition to hefty salaries provincial hospital CEOs are also collecting lucrative benefits including generous car allowances, exclusive health club memberships and severance packages worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. “In tough times, we just can’t afford these irresponsible pay packages on the public dime. Everyday Ontarians are being told to tighten their belts, while hospital CEOs will make more in bonuses than a hardworking family will make in salary in an entire year.”

The $418,000 cap proposed by Horwath is twice the salary collected by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

To view the agreement made between the Red Lake Hospital and CEO Paul Chatelain visit www.redlakehospital.ca and select the “Service and Financial” tab under the “Communication” and “Accountability” headings.

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