Hydro One’s board of directors approved to a $25,000 pay hike for their own jobs in 2018 and a $70,000 raise for the chair of the board.

The utility company’s Annual General Meeting will be held today in Toronto and a Management Information Circular released ahead of the meeting reveals that the part-time board voted in favour of bumping up their salaries from $160,000 per year to $185,000 per year, effective at the start of this year. They receive half of the money in cash and the other half in shares.

Board Chair David Denison’s salary was boosted from $260,000 to $330,000, the document shows.

The news comes as shares fell about 16 per cent year-over-year.

In the document, Hydro One says the decision to boost compensation was made after Hugessen Consulting Inc. conducted a “compensation benchmarking review.”

“The increase in directors’ compensation will bring the Hydro One board closer to, but still below median of, this broader peer group,” the AGM circular states.

The broader peer group reviewed by the independent consultant included companies such as Pembina Pipeline Corporation, TransCanada Corporation, Air Canada, CN Rail, and the National Bank of Canada.

Ford holds rally outside AGM

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford, who has persistently criticized the Liberals over executive compensation and hydro rates, held a rally outside the Annual General Meeting today.

Ford has vowed to fire the president and CEO of Hydro One and the board of directors if elected.

“A part-time job, they were making $160,000. They gave themselves a pay increase up to $185,000. Who does that? Who does that? This is a waste of taxpayers’ money,” Ford said.

“This is the reason the board is going, the CEO is going. That is unacceptable.”

During a one-on-one interview with CP24, Ford criticized the $6.2 million paid to Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt last year.

"He just lined his pockets with a $1.4-million bonus," Ford said. "He lined the pockets of all of his executives, who are making millions, with $14 million of your money."

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Schmidt said he doesn't "focus on the politics" but rather sticks to the business at hand,” including Hydro One's acquisition of U.S. energy company Avista Corp.

“We, with the close of Avista, will run a 35.5 billion company with over 10,000 employees. We are focused on their needs and driving outcomes that are in the best interest of our customers and our shareholders,” he said.

“We are creating a Canadian champion company and I would be very disappointed to see if there was an effort to impair that but the fact is we are focused on business. We’ll stay focused on business.”

Ford's plan is 'reckless,' Thibeault says

A shareholders vote will be held today on Hydro One’s approach to executive compensation and in a statement released Tuesday, Glenn Thibeault, who was energy minister in the Wynne government, said the government has "signalled its intention to abstain” from the vote.

“We expressed our dissatisfaction clearly and succeeded in securing from the board a commitment that a review of the compensation model would be conducted relying on additional third party experts,” the statement read.

“On that basis the government has formally signalled its intention to abstain from today's vote at the AGM. In this way we have managed to achieve two important benefits. First, as noted, a review of compensation will occur. Second, by avoiding a no vote, we have also eliminated the risks that would flow from such a showdown and the consequent negative impact on Hydro One's shares.”

Thibeault slammed Ford’s plan to fire the board, calling it a “reckless, chaotic approach.”

“By boasting that he will fire the entire board en masse, he offers no consideration for the negative impacts that he would unleash on ratepayers and shareholders,” the statement continued.

“Indeed, what Mr. Ford does not recognize is that by delighting in such careless, confrontational behaviour he is deliberately causing harm to a valuable asset that people all across Ontario rely upon greatly.”

Hydro One must come back into public hands: NDP

Speaking to reporters about Hydro One on Tuesday, Peter Tabuns, the Ontario NDP candidate for Toronto-Danforth and former NDP energy critic, called Ford “a hypocrite.”

“This is all for show. Doug Ford is a hypocrite on these issues, He was a senior person at Build Toronto when they dramatically increased the pay for executives. He gave layoff slips to the front-line staff. He didn’t raise a peep when the Toronto Hydro CEO got a big increase in his salary during the Ford administration,” Tabuns said.

“As long as we have a privatized Hydro One, we are going to see dramatically higher salaries and people looking after themselves.”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who has repeatedly slammed the Liberals over the decision to privatize the utility, has promised to bring Hydro One back into public hands if she wins the election on June 7.