TORONTO -- The CEO of Ontario Power Generation was the highest paid public sector employee in the province last year, topping a growing list of those earning $100,000 or more.

The so-called "Sunshine List" released Wednesday -- which now includes more than 151,000 people -- shows Jeff Lyash made more than $1.7 million in 2018.

Lyash, who is leaving his job later this week to take one with a U.S. utility, also topped the list in 2017 with earnings of more than $1.5 million, and in 2016 as well, when he made $1.1 million.

The top ten spots on the 2018 list were rounded out by three other Ontario Power Generation executives, a pair of Crown agency heads, three hospital CEOs, and the president of a corporation that manages investments for a university.

The list grew by over 19,000 employees last year, with the government attributing most of that increase to more employees from broader public sector agencies landing on the list.

Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy said the government is looking at public sector compensation levels and didn't rule out taking action to address the issue in light of what the Tories say is Ontario's $13.5 billion deficit.

"We're going to continue to look at every piece of compensation because ... 52 per cent of all government expenditures are compensation," he said. "We want to make sure people get value for that money."

When asked about a number of highly paid advisers added to the public payroll since the Tories took office last summer, Bethlenfalvy defended the hires.

"We're modernizing and transforming the way we do government," he said. "Our interest expense is the fourth largest (in the budget). We've got to take steps to bring that in."

The province's second-highest earner last year was Daren Smith, president of the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation, with a salary of $989,308. OPG's Chief Nuclear Officer Glenn Jager ranked third on the list, making $962,749.

Last year's provincial election shook up the status quo at Ontario's legislature and altered the amounts made by some of the province's top politicians and political staffers, who in some cases only served for half the year.

Premier Doug Ford made $112,770.47 while his chief of staff, Dean French, earned more than his boss, making $153,155.

Former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne made $162,248 while her former chief of staff Andrew Bevan was paid $552,667. Bevan's salary in 2017 was $313,921.

When asked about Bevan's increase in compensation, interim Liberal leader John Fraser said neither he or his party were involved in decisions regarding government salaries or severances.

"Reasonable people will think this is an excessive package and want an explanation," he said.

Wynne's chief investment officer Allan O'Dette -- who was dismissed by the Ford government after it was elected -- made $561,872.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who was paid $171,0737 last year, said next year's disclosure will shine a light on this government's patronage hires.

"We need to hold our breaths for next year when we see Mr. Ford's gravy train roll into the station when it comes to the Sunshine List," she said. "What we've seen is the premier of the province, who GǪ likes to talk about fiscal responsibility, actually jack up the pay of a lot of his friends that he's appointing to these positions."

Former Tory leader Patrick Brown also made the list and was paid $140,445 last year.

The province's former top civil servant, Steve Orsini was paid $380,401 and $10,744 in taxable benefits. Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster made $506,280 with $12,575 in taxable benefits.

The $100,000 threshold for those on the list has not changed since it was introduced by then-premier Mike Harris in 1996.

Top 10 Ontario public sector earners from 2018:

1. Jeffrey Lyash, president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation, made $1,746,824.

2. Daren Smith, president and chief investment officer of the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation, made $989,308.

3. Glenn Jager, nuclear president and chief nuclear officer of OPG, made $962,749.

4. Mark Fuller, president and CEO of the Ontario Public Service Pension Board, made $803,552.

5. Michael Apkon, who left the Hospital for Sick Children in the fall as president and CEO, made $792,571.

6. Sean Granville, chief nuclear officer at OPG, made $774,054.

7. Dietmar E. Reiner, senior vice president of nuclear projects at OPG, made $766,192.

8. Stephen Rigby, president and CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., made $765,406.

9. William Reichman, president and CEO of Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, made $722,875.

10. Andy Smith, president and CEO of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, made $714,999.

The highest paid public sector worker in London, Ont. is the president and CEO of St. Joseph's Health Care, Gillian Kernaghan, who sits at 111 on the list, earning just over $ 447,000.

With files from Allison Jones