Canada: Best paid CEOs earn 189 times more than the average wage

The CCPA's website shows by the cent
the income of the CEO Elite 100 and the
average workers' earning since January 1st.

On January 3rd at 12.00 o’clock, each one of the “CEO Elite 100” —the best paid executives of companies listed in the Toronto Stock Exchange— had already got 44,366 dollars, the amount that an average Canadian wage earner would obtain after working full-time the entire year, revealed the CCPA, one of the members of Social Watch in that country. To make the inequity even worst, only one woman is member of this privileged club 

The CEO Elite 100 had earned last year a total compensation of $838-million, including base salary, cash bonuses, company shares, stock options, allowances and pension compensations, according to the CCPA (Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives). That would be enough to wipe out the deficits of the provinces of Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The average income of $8.38 million (Canadian dollar is very close to parity with the US dollar) represents a 27% increase over the $6.6 million they earned in 2009. At this rate, each one of these high executives amassed 189 times the average wage. In 1998, the CEO Elite 100’s earnings multiplied by 105 the average wage.

The best paid 100 CEOs had reason to cheer the New Year. By noon January 3rd, the first official working day of the 2012, they had already earned what it takes the average wage earner an entire year to make. The previous CCPA’s report, based on numbers from 2009, showed the average CEO Elite 100 raised the average annual worker’s earning by 2.30 p.m. on the year's first working day.

In contrast, after taking inflation into account, the worker’s earnings are lower now than they were during the first two years of the global crisis that started in 2008, says the report’s author, economist Hugh Mackenzie.

In the 1980s, the pay for a CEO in the United States was about 40 times that of the average worker; likely less than that in Canada, although no comparable data are available. “In 1995, the average pay of Canada’s highest paid 50 CEOs was $2.66 million, 85 times the average wage. In 2010, the average pay of the highest paid 50 CEOs had skyrocketed to 255 times the average wage,” wrote Mackenzie.

CEO Elite 100’s average income also had more than doubled between the last 1980s and 1998. In that year, the list member’s average earnings multiplied by 105 the average worker’s wage, but the inequity has grown at a blistering pace: the current income of this privileged club multiplies by 189 the national average, according to the most recent edition of the CCPA’s report, launched this month.

The trend had become apparent on December, in another CCPA’s study entitled “The Rise of Canada’s Richest 1%”. Income inequality has grown at a blistering pace since the end of the 20th century, driven by the rise of the very richest in the country: the 246,000 privileged few who rank among the country’s richest 1% took almost a third (32%) of all growth in incomes between 1997 and 2007, concluded Armine Yalnizyan, CCPA senior economist and the report’s author.

“If you think that’s normal, it’s not,” Mackenzie added.

The new report also found that Canada’s CEO Elite 100 are among the country’s richest 0.01%, a group of 2,460 people whose income was over $1.85 million in 2007, according to their tax declaration. Their earnings soar above the average of $404,500, the amount estimated four years ago to enter in the richest 1% club.

The lowest paid of Canada’s CEO Elite 100 pocketed $3.9 million in 2010, while the highest income of the list was of while the highest amounted to $68.8 million.

Ninety-nine of the 100 members of the list are men. Nancy Southern, of ATCO Ltd. and Canadian Utilities Ltd., earns $4.8 million a year, an amount that put her in the 85th place of the ranking.

“The conclusion from these data is inescapable,” says Mackenzie. “Soaring executive pay plays a significant role in driving the growth in income inequality in Canada.”

“The gap between Canada’s CEO Elite 100 and the rest of us is growing at a fast and steady pace, with no signs of letting up.”

More information
Canada’s CEO Elite 100: The 0.01% (Full report in English and in PDF format):
The clash for the cash (amounts earned by the CEO Elite 100 and by the average Canadian worker since January 1, updated by the cent):
The rise of Canada’s richest 1%:

This report is based on data from the following sources:
The Vancouver Sun:
The Star Phoenix: