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

Letter writers weigh in on the City of Nanaimo adopting ‘doughnut’ economics as a guiding principle for decision-making.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: City of Nanaimo’s ‘doughnut’ has to be more than empty calories

Letter writers react to city council’s recent decision to adopt ‘doughnut’ economic model

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a car and a minivan Saturday afternoon at the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
One person taken to hospital after crash in north Nanaimo

Car and minivan collided Saturday at the intersection of the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive

Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization, a non-profit, seeks to raise $8,000 for a play structure to help children remain active during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization asking for help fundraising for play structure

Physical activities have been limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, says non-profit

Police in Nanaimo hope to find the owner of a Giant Reign mountain bike that was seized after a man was spotted riding it without a helmet on the wrong side of the road on Christmas Eve. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP suspicious to find expensive bike covered in layer of duct tape

Police looking for owner of Giant Reign mountain bike that they believe was stolen

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker causes pain and damage at downtown Nanaimo gym

VIDEO: Suspect breaks fire alarm, slams door on business owner’s foot after attempting to defraud her

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a car and a minivan Saturday afternoon at the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
One person taken to hospital after crash in north Nanaimo

Car and minivan collided Saturday at the intersection of the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive

Cyclists pick up swag and cycling trail maps at city Bike to Work Week ‘celebration station’ a few years ago. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo’s active transportation plan will be about more than infrastructure

City working on goals to double walking trips and quintuple cycling and busing trips

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam at a press conference last year. (Canadian Press photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Better federal vaccine planning badly needed

Why hasn’t Parliament done more to protect seniors and care homes, asks letter writer

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

Kinsmen Participark in Beban Park will be closed next week so city workers can remove dangerous trees and invasive plant species. The work is the start of an improvement project that includes replacing signs and fitness stations in the spring. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo fitness park to close for removal of hazard trees and invasive plants

Tree cutting to start in Beban Park’s Kinsmen Participark as part of improvement project

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)
(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

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

Most Read