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

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin makes preparations at Toronto’s mass vaccination clinic, Jan. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
3 deaths, 234 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

One death connected to outbreak at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, where 20 patients and 28 staff have tested positive

Salmon Arm’s Halle Krawczyk gives a thumbs up following surgery on Jan. 22 in Pittsburgh, her second of three battling an extremely rare form of cancer that formed tumours on her two upper vertebrae and the clivus behind the nose. (Contributed)
‘Absolutely perfect:’ Salmon Arm girl’s surgeries for tumour exceed expectations

Halle Krawzcyk doing well, mom credits hundreds of people praying for making the difference

Salmon Arm RCMP search a property in the 700 block of Grandview Bench Road in March 2019, assisting Edmonton police with an investigation that led to the arrest of a Salmon Arm man man who was charged in relation to an Edmonton bank robbery and a related explosions. (File photo)
Salmon Arm man accused in Edmonton bank explosions in court for weapon offences

Local provincial court appearances for charges including possessing weapon for dangerous purpose

From left, city workers Hugh Bennett, Chris Carr and Teneal Crossman secure the fountain they’ve just removed from McGuire Lake back in October 2020 before the ice moved in. (File photo)
Salmon Arm, CUPE local reach five-year deal with city staff, RCMP clerks

Agreement includes two per cent wage hike for each of five years in agreement

RCMP cruiser
Residents help RCMP track fleeing driver in North Shuswap

Police stop vehicle with spike belt, Chase man arrested

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Heather Barker. (File)
Manslaughter charge laid in Vernon woman’s 2018 death

Shaun Ross Wiebe, 43, faces manslaughter and assault charges related to the death of Heather Barker

Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran in his Creston home. Hanging on the wall behind him is a logo of Kachin’s Manaw festival. Photo: Aaron Hemens
From Myanmar to Creston: The story of a refugee

In October 2007, Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran and his friends encountered a woman being sexually assaulted by two Myanmar soldiers.

Kamloops This Week.
48 COVID-19 cases and one death associated with outbreak at Kamloops hospital

One of the 20 patients infected has died, meanwhile 28 staff with COVID-19 are isolating at home

The City of Vernon is sending a letter to the provincial government to request that church be deemed an essential service amid the pandemic. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon mayor scolded for revealing stance on making church essential

Coun. Scott Anderson calls Cummings’ actions ‘arrogant’

The scene of a serious crash on Highway 33 in Kelowna that killed one and severely injured two others on June 20, 2018. (File)
Driver found guilty of causing death, injury in 2018 Kelowna crash

Travis Ryan Hennessy will face sentencing at a later date

(Michael Rodriguez - Capital News staff)
Downtown stairwell fire suspicious, Kelowna RCMP say

Crews were called to Gotham Nightclub for a report of a stairwell fire

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Head Brewer Kody Rosentreter, owner Wes Greve and taproom manager Lisa Deleo celebrated North Basin Brewing’s grand opening Jan. 22 and 23, 2020. (Contributed)
Osoyoos’ first microbrewery celebrates grand opening

The brewery hopes to show that the Okanagan is more than just wine country

Most Read