Canada’s 100 highest-paid chief executive officers from the S&P/TSX composite index recorded their second best year ever for compensation in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The report found those 100 CEOs were paid an average of $10.9 million in 2020, which was higher than their pay in 2019. They now make 191 times more than the average worker wage in Canada.
“At this rate, it will take the average worker the entire year to accrue what Canada’s highest-paid CEOs [racked] up just before lunch on Jan. 4 — the first official working day of the year,” said David Macdonald, the report’s author and senior economist at the CCPA, in a press release. “2020 was a horrible year for many workers hit hard by the pandemic, but CEO pay appears to be impervious to any shock to the system.”
Variable compensation, which includes different forms of bonuses, such as cash bonuses and stock options, now makes up 82 per cent of total compensation for top CEOs.
“Bonus pay has been increasing in importance compared to salaries,” said Macdonald. “If there is a singular reason why CEO pay is in the stratosphere, it’s because out-of-control bonuses are protected from going down, even in a pandemic.”
Despite variable compensation being typically due to good performance, among the richest 100 CEOs, 30 headed companies that received the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, 14 saw their bonuses changed to protect them from the impact of the pandemic and five experienced both.