Office towers are shown from Bay Street in Toronto’s financial district, on Wednesday, June 16, 2010. A new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says the average amount paid to the country’s top chief executives in 2019 was down from 2018, but was still more than 200 times the average worker compensation.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrien Veczan

Office towers are shown from Bay Street in Toronto’s financial district, on Wednesday, June 16, 2010. A new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says the average amount paid to the country’s top chief executives in 2019 was down from 2018, but was still more than 200 times the average worker compensation.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrien Veczan

Ottawa urged to ban CEO bonuses if wage subsidy paid and add top COVID tax bracket

A strong stock market recovery should mean that half of executives will see the same or higher payouts, experts say

The federal government is being urged to explicitly prevent Canada’s highest paid CEOs from getting bonuses if their companies obtained wage subsidies.

“The wage subsidy in Canada is being changed on an almost monthly basis to tweak it, to improve it, and one of those tweaks should absolutely be that going forward you cannot receive a wage subsidy and pay out big bonuses to your execs,” said David Macdonald, senior economist at he Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The comment came as the think tank issued a report Monday that said Canada’s 100 highest paid CEOs made 202 times more than the average working in 2019.

It believes that Canada should follow other developed countries like Spain and the Netherlands that explicitly prohibit bonuses and dividends if they receive wage subsidies.

It also wants to exclude companies from substantially increasing executive salaries to prevent them from bypassing restrictions on bonuses.

The CCPA also thinks Ottawa should introduce a top marginal tax bracket to help pay for the large deficit caused by its response to COVID-19.

“These are folks that would have done really well through COVID-19 and I think it’s maybe time to ask them to pay a little higher taxes in order to cover the costs for people who have done really badly through COVID-19.”

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

The centre’s report said the average amount paid to the country’s top chief executives in 2019 was down from 2018, but still more than 200 times the average worker compensation.

The annual report said the average pay of a top-100 CEO in 2019 was $10.8 million, down from a record high of $11.8 million in 2018.

It noted the decline was largely accounted for by several CEOs receiving extremely high compensation packages in 2018, compared with 2019.

Meanwhile, the average individual income in Canada for 2019 was $53,482, up from $52,061 in 2018.

The ratio of the average top-100 CEO compared with average individual income was 202 to one for 2019 compared with 227 to one in 2018.

The report says that means by 11:17 a.m. on the first workday of the year, the average top-100 CEO made as much money as the average Canadian worker would make all year.

Although Canadian companies won’t start to disclose 2020 compensation until the spring, a strong stock market recovery should mean that half of executives will see the same or higher payouts last year because bonuses account for about 80 per cent of compensation, Macdonald said.

“It looks like about half of these top 100 CEOs will see roughly the same or increased pay and half will see likely half will see decreased pay in 2020 based on the stock prices,” he said in an interview.

“At the very top of the income spectrum, Canada’s highest paid CEOs and other corporate executives have been sitting out the pandemic atop a golden cushion,” said the report.

Meanwhile, the bottom quarter of workers making under $16 an hour have not fully recovered from job or hours lost in April and May.

Jose Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands International Inc., was top earner in 2019, receiving nearly $27.5 million in compensation with about $1 million in salary.

He was followed by former Magna CEO Donald Walker at $24.2 million, Barrick Gold Corp. CEO Mark Bristow at $23 million and Bausch Health Companies Inc. CEO Joseph Papa at $22.7 million.

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan (left) and Kairry Nguyen on Jan. 27, 2020 after Tenessa Nikirk was found guilty for striking Bui in a Saanich crosswalk. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Driver convicted of dangerous driving after hitting Leila Bui out on bail

Tennesa Nikirk was convicted for striking then 11-year-old Leila Bui with her car

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed as Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

The Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre will once again be transformed into temporary sheltering for 45 individuals starting in March. (Courtesy of the B.C. Government)
Temporary shelter to resume at Victoria’ Save-On-Foods arena in March

BC Housing signed lease with GSL Group from Feb. 1 to May 30

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in Juan de Fuca Strait

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

Victoria police are seeking a young woman suspected of spitting on a bus driver in October 2020. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
VIDEO: Young woman sought after ‘spitting assault’ on Victoria bus driver

Suspect became irate after bus came to a sudden stop

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 26

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(B.C. government photo)
POLL: Would you like to see restrictions on travel to B.C. from other provinces?

With a host of more virulent strains of COVID-19 appearing across the… Continue reading

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Most Read