While the economic crisis robbed many Canadians of their paycheques, the country’s top chief executives were laughing all the way to the bank.
A recent report by the Ottawa-based Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows the 100 highest-paid CEOs pocketed an average $7.8 million apiece in 2008 — 174 times higher than the average Canadian’s wage of $42,305.
The report notes that between 1998 and 2008, the highest paid 100 CEOs’ average compensation packages outpaced inflation by 70 per cent. Meanwhile the average Canadian income decreased six per cent due to inflation.
“To put that in perspective, Canadians will work full-time throughout the year to earn the national average of $42,305,” notes the studies author Hugh Mackenzie, CCPA research associate and economist. “The top 100 CEOs pocket that amount by 1:01 p.m. on January 4 — the first working day of the year.”
One solution to bridge the chasm is to tax a portion of CEOs “excessive pay package,” suggests the report. Canada’s tax laws allow capital gains on stock options to be taxed at half the rate of ordinary wage and salary income. Stock options made up one-fifth of the average CEO’s pay in 2008.
Thomas Glocer, head of media giant Thomson Reuters Corp., topped the pay list at $36.6 million.
Calgary’s top executives fared exceptionally well, taking 19 of the 100 spots. EnCana Corp. CEO Randy Eresman, the highest-ranked Calgary CEO, pulled in more than $10.3 million. He was followed by Ron Brenneman of Petro-Canada, with $9.2 million; Michael Wilson of Agrium Inc. received $9.18 million; John A. Manzoni of Talisman Energy Inc. got $8.8 million; Harold Kvisle of TransCanada Corp. received $8.55 million.
Below is a list of the 19 CEO of Calgary-based firms who made the list.
The dollar figure shown includes base salary, bonus, shares, options, pension, and other compensation for 2008. The Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives extracted the data from disclosures contained in the proxy circulars prepared by corporations in advance of their annual meetings.
(18) Randall Eresman, EnCana Corp. — $10,337,785
(20) Ron Brenneman, Petro-Canada — $9,199,328
(22) Michael Wilson, Agrium Inc. — $9,178,751
(24) John A Manzoni, Talisman Energy Inc. — $1,254,000
(28) Harold Kvisle, TransCanada Corp. — $8,554,857
(30) Jim Shaw, Shaw Communications Inc. — $8,226,176
(31) Richard George, Suncor Energy Inc. — $8,032,814
(36) James Kinnear, Pengrowth Energy Trust — $6,950,000
(37) Darren Entwistle, TELUS Corp. — $6,889,216
(38) Stephen Snyder, TransAlta Corp. — $6,686,551
(43) Patrick Daniel, Enbridge Inc. — $6,475,510
(45) Nancy Southern, Atco Ltd./Canadian Utilities Ltd. — $6,305,124
(48) Charles Fischer, Nexen Inc. — $6,157,555
(60) Scott Saxberg, Crescent Point Energy Trust — $5,292,498
(68) John Lau, Husky Energy Inc. — $4,797,636
(69) Frederic Green, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. — $4,734,369
(71) Steve Laut, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. — $4,648,693
(74) Marc Tellier, Yellow Pages Income Fund — $4,528,032
(92) Marcel Coutu, Canadian Oil Sands Trust — $3,698,000