March 23, 2021 (3 Minute Read)
Peel CAO Now Receiving Over $500,000 Per Year. More than PM Trudeau. Mississauga Councillor Parrish dismissed criticism that Baker was the former City Manager at Mississauga as a “dead duck story”.
Janice Baker is the new CAO for Peel Region and, with her pension and earnings, is now receiving over half a million dollars a year. She can thank Mississauga Councillors for this bonanza as there was no standardized or transparent hiring process that occurred.
When Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish was asked if Baker was the right choice, given that she advocated for the City of Mississauga to be annexed from the Region, Parrish dismissed the criticism because it was a “dead duck story.”
The Glass Ceiling
Hazel McCallion, former Mayor of Mississauga, hired Janice Baker as the City Manager. Together they broke the glass ceiling and achieved remarkable growth and success for the municipality. Assessing gender equity, Baker earned a competitive salary similar to her male counterpart at Peel Region; however, it was lower when compared to City Managers at Ottawa, Brampton and Toronto. That’s wrong.
After a successful career in the public sector, Janice Baker decided to retire in 2020. As a municipal public service employee, Baker would be entitled to receive an OMERS pension, which is based on a formula that includes her best five years of earnings.
Four months later, Janice Baker was appointed CAO at the Region of Peel. In addition to collecting her pension, Baker is now collecting a salary of approximately $350,000 per year. Her double dipping commenced, earning over $500,000 per annum.
However, this is not about Janice Baker being qualified for the job or her double dipping. This is about Mississauga Councillors thwarting a fair process again and appointing Baker for the job. The Region of Peel broke almost every HR practice in the book during this selection process.
The Broken Process
They’ve done this before.
When Janice Baker retired, the Mississauga Councillors appointed an internal candidate as her successor without any competition. In contrast, when both the Town of Caledon and the City of Brampton needed a new CAO, they implemented a proper selection process.
After moving along former CAO David Szwarc, Peel Region broke the traditional method of establishing a “CAO Selection Committee.” A dedicated CAO committee is typically chaired by the head of Council (either the Mayor or Regional Chair) with defined terms of reference. It consists of members from Council, or in some cases, all of the Council. Peel Region ignored this standardized practice and simply assigned the recruitment responsibility to the existing Policy and Procedures Committee (chaired by Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish).
Peel Region HR staff hired an independent recruitment firm to support the Committee. A recruitment firm ensures a national search, identifies compatible skill sets, and that the process is fair and transparent.
However, in a secret meeting behind closed doors, Regional Council fired the executive search firm. With the independent recruitment firm out of the way, the Committee posted the CAO job for only two weeks, limiting candidate applications to the top bureaucratic job.
In contrast, large municipalities typically retain an independent recruitment firm that usually manages the posting for 4-5 weeks. For example, as advertised in Municipal World, the City of Winnipeg is currently searching for a CAO using a national recruitment firm, and the time allowed for candidates to apply is one month. The Regional District of Nanaimo is also seeking a new CAO with an executive search firm’s assistance. Their job posting is similar in length for one month.
If Peel Region had utilized an independent recruitment firm, a professional recruiter would have gained knowledge of what type of CAO candidate was desired by the Council, including the candidate’s traits, leadership skills, experience and academic qualifications. From this knowledge, the consultant would then pre-interview the candidates, present a long-list of candidates to the Committee, and recommend which candidates be invited to the first round of Committee interviews. Peel Region Council ignored all of these critical steps.
Eventually, Peel Region’s Committee reviewed a list of 19 candidates. From this list, eight candidates were selected for the first round of interviews. After this first round, 2-3 candidates were chosen for the second round of interviews.
Before the Committee could make a recommendation, Regional Council abruptly cancelled the process.
Instead, and again in secret and behind closed doors, Regional Council simply appointed Janice Baker to the top job. Baker did not apply for the job. She wasn’t even interviewed.
Brampton Councillor Michael Palleschi was not happy with the decision-making process to hire Baker. Palleschi was on the initial Policy and Procedures Committee delegated to recruit candidates and recommend the leading person to Council. Calling the CAO selection the “biggest decision” that Council will make, he said it was unfortunate that Council did not follow a proper procedure. He referenced the process as “disappointing” and denied the opportunity to have a say was “extremely disrespectful” to Brampton’s voters.
Before other Councillors could engage in the debate, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie implemented a political manoeuvre to stifle the discussion and called for a vote. Her steam-rolling actions prevented Caledon Mayor Alan Thompson and Caledon Councillors Innis, Downey and Sinclair from speaking. They all voted against Baker’s appointment.
When it comes to Peel Region, Mississauga Councillors continue to flex their muscles. They raise Brampton’s taxes, vote on Brampton’s infrastructure, and in this case, appoint a CAO who didn’t even apply for the job or was interviewed by Caledon or Brampton Councillors.
And that’s how you get a double dipping CAO.