Canada wage gap

Canada's top CEOs just earned more in a few hours than most people make all year

By 10:09 a.m. on January 2 — the first full work day of the year — the top 100 highest paid CEOs in Canada had earned more than the average worker will make over the next 12 months.

This, according to a jarring new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) which reveals that said executives were paid a record amount of money in 2018 compared to their employees.

Canada's top 100 highest-paid Chief Executive Officers made an average of $11.8 million last year, according to the report — or roughly 227 times more than the average individual Canadian worker, who is said to pull in $52,061 before taxes.

These figures mark a new record for the wage gap between executives and those who work below them, says the CCPA. In 2017, Canadian CEOs made only 197 times more than the average employee with median income of around $10 million.

"The pay gap is a result of top CEO incomes rising faster than average incomes across Canada," explains the Ottawa-based think tank behind the report. "The average compensation of the richest CEOs was $1.8 million higher in 2018 than in 2017—an 18 per cent jump.

Conversely, the average worker saw their pay go up just 2.6 per cent in 2018 — from $50,744 to $52,061.

"Subtract inflation of 2.3 per cent that year, and the real average income increased by a paltry $150.4," notes the CCPA of what regular employees pulled in over the past 12 months.

"Since 2008, more or less in line with inflation, average worker pay has risen 24 per cent while top-100 CEO pay has grown more by 61 per cent."

The new 227:1 ration of average CEO pay to average worker pay represents "the worst inequality in pay that we have recorded over 13 years of producing this report."

And by a long shot. Previously-recorded data shows that the wage gap is growing fast.

"Put another way, by 10:09 a.m. on January 2, the average highest-paid CEO in Canada will have taken home the average worker's whole salary for the year," writes the CCPA.

"In 2011 or 2012, it would have taken the average CEO until after lunch (about 1 p.m.) on the first working day of the year to earn a full year’s average individual income. Now they've done it by the time many people are pouring their second cup of coffee."

Speaking of gaps, it's of note that only four women can be counted among the top 100 highest-paid CEOS of publicly traded Canadian companies. Better than 2018, which included three women on the list, but still upsettingly dismal.

"The vast gap between excessive CEO compensation and average incomes in Canada is growing larger and more difficult to rationalize with each passing year," concludes the 24-page-long report.

"Canadian companies are earning money and seeing profits, even in this period of relatively slow growth, but that money is not reaching workers. Instead, wealth continues to concentrate at the very top while average incomes are barely keeping up with inflation."

The problem is multi-faceted and won't be solved overnight, according to experts. Government-mandated tax reform, however, is recommended as just one "relatively simple means of correcting gross imbalances in income in Canada."

Lead photo by

Dustin William

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