Canada's top CEOs earn 193 times average worker's salary

A new report shows Canada's 100 top CEOs will earn by 11:47 a.m. today — Jan. 3 — what the average Canadian will make in a whole year.

Salary of highest-paid CEOs jumps 7% in 2015

Canada's top 100 CEOs earned an average of $9.5 million in 2015. (Getty Images)

The compensation of Canada's highest-paid CEOs jumped seven per cent between 2014 and 2015, to a record high average of $9.5 million, according to a new study.

In a report published Tuesday, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a left-leaning think-tank focused on economic and social policy, analyzed salary information from 249 TSX-listed companies and identified the top 100 earners.

The 100 richest CEOs in Canada took in an average of $9.5 million in 2015, a figure that includes salaries, bonuses, share grants and stock options, the report said.

That's well ahead of the $49,510 the group says the typical full-year, full-time worker earned in 2015.

Based on 2015 earnings, Canada's 100 top CEOs will earn by 11:47 a.m. today what the average Canadian will make in a whole year.

Hugh Mackenzie, author of the report, says that CEOs 30 years ago 'managed to scrape by on 40 times what the average person is paid.'

"Nobody's worth that much money. I mean, this is absurd," said Hugh Mackenzie, a research associate at the think-tank and author of the report.

"Thirty years ago they managed to scrape by on 40 times what the average person is paid, and now, it's 193 times."

Between 2008 and 2015, the country's 100 top-paid CEOs saw their compensation climb about 30 per cent, while the average wage for Canadians increased by just 17.5 per cent.

The highest-paid CEOs, according to the study, in order were:

  • Valeant Pharmaceutical's Michael Pearson: $182.9 million in total compensation.
  • Donald Walker of Magna International: $26.5 million.
  • Hunter Harrison of Canadian Pacific Railway: $19.9 million.

Other notable names include BlackBerry's John Chen. He was the highest-earning CEO in 2014, but dropped to 91st in 2015, earning $3.8 million.

Eric La Flèche of Metro Inc. was the lowest-paid CEO on the list of 100, earning $3.6 million in 2015.

Only two women made the list — Linda Hasenfratz, of Linamar Corp., who was compensated a total of $14.2 million, and Dawn Farrell, of TransAlta Corp., who earned $4.5 million.

What's in a name?

Of the top 100 highest-paying CEOs on the list, five people are named Marc or Mark, five named Michael, four named Al, John, Paul and Steve, and three named Brian, Charles and Donald.


Jacqueline Hansen

Senior Business Reporter

Jacqueline Hansen is a senior business reporter for CBC News. Based in Toronto, she's been covering business and other news beats since 2010.


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