The B.C. Legislature is seen in Victoria in an undated photo from Shutterstock.com

At a time when many face financial struggles due to COVID-19, the recently released salaries of some of B.C.'s top earners may turn heads.

British Columbians faced layoffs, reduced hours and other challenges to make ends meet, so the annual list released Monday may be met with some questions by those who've struggled in the first few months of 2020.

The province's finance ministry distributed the list Monday of the top paid executives in the public sector.

The top 10 list includes five university big wigs, and two people from BC Hydro.

Their official salaries range from $162,574 to $475,483, but with bonuses, benefits and various other compensation, many made significantly more than their salaries in the 2019-20 period.

The amounts listed as total compensation include base salary, performance-based holdback or pay, statutory and health benefits and pension contributions, the province said. Additionally, allowances including vacation and sick leave payout, paid parking, severance, retirement allowances and other compensation are included in those figures.

Here's who made the most in B.C., as outlined in a ministry release.

1. Thomas Bechard, president and CEO of Powerex

  • Salary: $358,800
  • Total compensation in 2019-20: $937,845
  • Total compensation in 2018-19: $938,499

2. Santa J. Ono, president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia

  • Salary: $475,483
  • Total compensation in 2019-20: $605,225
  • Total compensation in 2018-19: $601,772

3. Chris O'Riley, president and CEO of BC Hydro

  • Salary: $370,190
  • Total compensation in 2019-20: $566,084
  • Total compensation in 2018-19: $554,900

4. Shelley Legin, CFO and vice-president administration of Vancouver Island University

  • Salary: $162,574
  • Total compensation in 2019-20: $521,556
  • Total compensation in 2018-19: $231,995

5. Brenda Leong, chair of the BC Securities Commission

  • Salary: $452,039
  • Total compensation in 2019-20: $515,203
  • Total compensation in 2018-19: $502,848

6. Nicolas Jimenez, president and CEO of ICBC

  • Salary: $390,606
  • Total compensation in 2019-20: $474,680
  • Total compensation in 2018-19: $468,783

7. Andrew Szeri, vice-president academic and provost of the University of British Columbia

  • Salary: $402,441
  • Total compensation in 2019-20: $452,374
  • Total compensation in 2018-19: $444,415

8. Andrew Petter, president of Simon Fraser University

  • Salary: $332,665
  • Total compensation in 2019-20: $443,850
  • Total compensation in 2018-19: $439,910

9. James Cassels, president and vice chancellor of the University of Victoria

  • Salary: $387,848
  • Total compensation in 2019-20: $443,207
  • Total compensation in 2018-19: $432,979

10. David Wong, executive vice-president and CFO of finance, tech and supply chain at BC Hydro

  • Salary: $291,544
  • Total compensation in 2019-20: $437,755
  • Total compensation in 2018-19: $268,054