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

Les Cleverly, formerly of Grand Forks Fire/Rescue, is suing the city as well as current and former city firefighters over alleged workplace bullying and defamation. File photo.
Former Grand Forks firefighter suing department, city over alleged conspiracy, constructed dismissal

Plaintiff Les Cleverly filed a notice of civil claim with the Supreme Court of BC in last week

A map released by the BCCDC Friday, Jan. 15 shows five diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks health area. Photo: Maps: COVID-19 cases in BC, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control website
Five COVID-19 cases reported in Grand Forks area

The BC Centre for Disease Control announced the cases in a weekly update Friday, Jan. 15

The aftermath of Thursday morning’s car crash at Greenwood’s Deadwood Junction, Jan. 14. Photo courtesy of Midway RCMP
Midway RCMP looking driver who left crash outside Greenwood café

Cpl. Phil Peters said Mounties were called to the scene early Thursday morning, Jan. 14

The court will fix a date for sentencing on Feb. 9. File photo
Powell River man pleads guilty to sexual interference of a minor in Grand Forks

The man is awaiting sentencing pending a psychological assessment

The accused entered their pleas at Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
Grand Forks men to stand trial for alleged violent crimes last July

The men appeared before Provincial Judge Phillip Seagram at the Grand Forks Court House Tuesday, Jan. 12

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Most Read