Police chiefs in Hamilton, Halton and Niagara paid more than counterparts at Toronto police, OPP

Police chiefs in Halton Region, Niagara Region and the City of Hamilton made more money last year than their counterparts in Toronto and at the Ontario Provincial Police, according to provincial financial disclosure documents.

Halton's chief Tanner made $432K last year; Hamilton's Bergen earned nearly $382K

A yellow sign with a crest and the word "Police."
The Ontario Provincial Police logo is seen on the sign at the detachment in Kanata on May 11, 2023. (Jillian Renouf/CBC)

Police chiefs in Halton Region, Niagara Region and Hamilton made more money last year than their counterparts in Toronto and at the Ontario Provincial Police, according to provincial financial disclosure documents known as the sunshine list.

The annual data set, released late last month, shows Hamilton Police Service (HPS) Chief Frank Bergen, former Niagara Regional Police Service chief Bryan MacCulloch and Halton Police Service Chief Stephen Tanner out-earned the leaders of the larger, bigger-budget services in Toronto and at the provincial level.

Tanner, the Halton chief, earned total compensation of more than $430,000 last year, which includes salary and taxable benefits. MacCulloch, who retired from his post as Niagara chief on Feb. 1 of this year, made over $395,000 including benefits. Bergen's compensation in Hamilton was more than $381,000, with wages and benefits combined.

Comparatively, Toronto Chief Myron Demkiw made more than $364,000 and OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique earned above $373,000 in total compensation.

CBC Hamilton contacted the police boards in Hamilton, Niagara and Halton for comment, and to ask whether the wage figures included any special bonuses or were purely base salary.

Fred Bennink, acting police board chair in Hamilton, did not respond to the question about bonuses, but said he believes Bergen's compensation is fair.

"We re-evaluated this past year to bring parity with equal positions in the [Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area]," he said in an email.

Bennink assumed the acting chair role in recent weeks after the six-year term of previous chair Pat Mandy came to an end.

The Hamilton police budget was hotly contested this year, with councillors voting to send it back to the police board to look for more savings, before finally approving it with no additional changes.

Hamilton's police force includes 829 officers and 414 civilians, and in 2023 — the year represented by the recently released salary figures — had a budget of $198 million. For comparison, the OPP commissioner leads a team of more than 5,800 uniformed officers, 2,600 civilians and 600 auxiliary officers, a force that calls itself "one of North America's largest deployed police services."

Halton Police Board chair Jeff Knoll says that region's chief's high salary — nearly $413,000 in pay and $19,000 in benefits last year — reflects a career that spans four decades and his dedication to the role, displayed by continuing to work beyond a date when he was entitled to retire. Tanner's 2023 compensation also includes a retroactive salary adjustment of $24,000 for 2019 to 2022, he said.

"This longstanding service renders him the longest-serving police chief in the country, bringing a wealth of experience and leadership stability to Halton Region," Knoll told CBC Hamilton.

"In 2023, Chief Tanner received an increase in salary and an incremental amount that aligns with the costs that otherwise would be associated with retirement contributions for the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. Chief Tanner's salary is structured to reflect the savings due to his retirement eligibility."

Niagara's police board chair, however, declined to provide details of the salary breakdown for that region's former chief, citing provincial legislation.

"The board is governed by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Under that legislation, we cannot comment on individual circumstances regarding private labour and employment matters," said Jen Lawson in an email. "The Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act does not authorize the Board to disclose what the specific benefits are or how the salary was arrived at."

She added that the chief's compensation is fair compared to other chiefs of similar experience.

"Based on former Chief MacCulloch's years of service and his years in the position as chief of police, his salary is closely in line with other chiefs and commissioner positions, in comparable jurisdictions, with comparable years of service, and experience in their chief/commissioner roles," Lawson wrote.


Saira Peesker is a reporter with CBC Hamilton, with particular interests in climate, labour and local politics. She has previously worked with the Hamilton Spectator and CTV News, and is a regular contributor to the Globe and Mail, covering business and personal finance. Saira can be reached at saira.peesker@cbc.ca.