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Canada’s Top 100 CEOs Profited From Pandemic, Made 100k More Per Year in 2020

According to a report, the top 100 CEOs in Canada saw their income spike in 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic.

“As a result, those 100 CEOs now make, on average, 191 times more than the average worker wage in Canada,” according to the report Another Year in Paradise, CEO pay in 2020.

“Before lunch hour on the first working day of 2022, Jan. 4, Canada’s highest-paid CEOs will have already racked up the same amount of pay that will take the average worker the entire year to accrue,” the report says.

The report notes that the highest-paid CEO in Canada in 2020 was David Klein, who officially took over Canopy Growth Corp. in January 2020. By the end of the year, Klein’s total compensation during that time was $45.3 million, including $281,715 in salary; $10-million in share-based awards and $33.3 million in option-based awards, according to the CCPA analysis. Canopy Growth Corp., which produces, distributes and sells medical and recreational cannabis, closed at $11.04 a share on the TSX on Monday.

“One of the issues we’ve seen with income inequality is that when the economy does poorly, it’s often just the low-wage workers that suffer, it’s not the CEOs that suffer, and that was really highlighted by the pandemic and the data for 2020,” said David Macdonald, a economist with the CCPA.

14 CEOs saw the structure of their bonuses changed in order to protect them from the impact of COVID-19.

“The CEWS was meant to go to businesses that saw large declines in revenue during the worst of the pandemic, but some companies with the highest-paid 100 CEOs in Canada continued to pay their CEOs extraordinary amounts while receiving the CEWS,” according to the report.

“The philosophical justification of extreme bonuses — that they are merit-based — is on thin ice. Executive compensation isn’t variable or merit-based but rather, it’s part of the c-suite culture.”

As a solution, the report suggested a wealth tax on the ultra-rich, generally defined as a tax on those with a net wealth of more than $10 million.

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