Halifax City Hall last week. — Photo: Zane Woodford

A former Halifax Transit mechanic who faced discrimination on the job and a high-ranking city staffer who was apparently fired earlier this year top the municipality’s 2020 sunshine list.

The 2020 Statement of Compensation, a list of municipal employees who made more than $100,000 in salary and other compensation, went live on the city’s website Thursday morning.

Last fiscal year, April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, 999 Halifax Regional Municipality employees made more than $100,000. Of those 999 employees, nearly half — 458, or 46% — are police employees.

Former transit employee awarded settlement tops list

Topping the list this year was Y.Z., who received $363,222 in “other compensation” — which includes payments like severance, or in this case, settlements. Y.Z.’s name is protected by a publication ban.

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission ordered Halifax Regional Municipality to pay Y.Z. and his wife a total of $593,417 in a May 2019 remedy decision.

It’s unclear why the full amount wasn’t paid out in this past fiscal year. The Halifax Examiner has asked the municipality to clarify, and will update this article with the answer.

Update: Municipal spokesperson Erin DiCarlo said in an email, “We do not provide a breakdown of specific benefits in terms of compensation for individual employees.” Reached by phone, Y.Z.’s lawyer Bruce Evans couldn’t provide any details due to confidentiality.

In May 2018, the commission released a board of inquiry decision detailing the discrimination Y.Z., a white man, faced in the Burnside transit garage because he was married to a Black woman. As the Halifax Examiner wrote at the time, Y.Z., along with a Black man, Randy Symonds, and an Inuit man, Dave Buckle, all faced discrimination, mainly at the hands of a coworker, Arthur Maddox. The board found that Maddox regularly uttered racial slurs, and once tried to run Y.Z. over with a bus.

The municipality fired Maddox in 2001 after he told Symonds, “Suck me, boy,” and remarked in the lunchroom that, “Racism, racism should be a law that you can shoot somebody and get away with it.” Maddox and the union successfully grieved his termination and he was reinstated. He was eventually fired in May 2018 around the time the human rights commission decision was released.

Y.Z. has been off work on disability since 2007, and as noted in the rights commission remedy decision, he is “likely totally disabled and largely housebound due to his fear of encountering HRM employees.”

Former manager gets another big severance payout

John MacIsaac — Photo: Nalcor via CBC
John MacIsaac — Photo: Nalcor via CBC

Second on the sunshine list is John MacIsaac, the city’s former director of corporate services. MacIsaac received $54,597.68 in salary and $256,262.40 in other benefits, in this case meaning severance pay.

MacIsaac was apparently fired in February after just a few months on the job. Chief administrative officer Jacques Dubé hired him in November 2019.

He was the second high-profile staffer to be let go early this year, following municipal clerk Kevin Arjoon in January (Arjoon received total compensation of $169,464.99, including what looks like $70,505.11 in severance).

This is the second time MacIsaac has secured a big severance payment in about a year. In February 2019, he received an estimated $500,000 in severance after leaving Nalcor, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Crown energy corporation, where he was the vice president for Muskrat Falls transmission.

Rounding out the top 10 earners last year:

  • Dubé ($292,132.33)
  • Legal director John Traves ($245,331.11)
  • Halifax Water general manager Cathie O’Toole ($229,922.53)
  • Chief financial officer Jane Fraser ($223,097.68)
  • Cogswell redevelopment project manager Anthony Spinelli ($218,968.68)
  • Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella ($215,409.19)
  • Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Chief Ken Stuebing ($207,019.60)
  • Transportation and public works director Brad Anguish ($206,353.16)

Here’s the full list:

Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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8 Comments

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  1. The top earner was a person who suffered discrimination as an employee. Meanwhile, there are many HR staffers on this list, including one from Diversity and Inclusion at $138,577.65. Hope all that investment pays off and means no more human rights cases.

  2. This sunshine list is unbelievable. When I look at the salaries of these people I can’t help but think if they defunded the police they could buy every low income family a proper dwelling to live in.

  3. Am I reading that right? That guy MacIsaac seems to have a good scam going. Three quarters of a million dollars for leaving and being fired from two jobs in a few years.. Most people, by putting it into modestly aggressive investments, could retire on that.

    1. I know! when you’re poor getting fired hurts your wallet but I guess once you reach a certain level of rich prick whatever you do they just pile money on you

  4. The sunshine list.

    You make me happy when skies are grey.

    *not recommended that you ever request one if you’re faint of heart.