Canada’s CEOs ring in New Year with a bang

January 2, 2014

OTTAWA—Just after lunch on the first official work day of the year, Canada’s highest paid CEOs pocket what would take most Canadians all of 2014 to earn, says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ (CCPA) annual CEO pay review.

The review, All In A Day’s Work? CEO Pay In Canada by economist and CCPA Research Associate Hugh Mackenzie, looks at 2012 compensation levels for Canada’s highest paid 100 CEOs and finds they pocketed an average of $7.96 million —a stark contrast from the average Canadian income of $46,634.

“Just as most Canadians are wrapping up lunch break on the first official work day of the year—1:11 p.m. on January 2—the average of the 100 highest paid CEOs will have already pocketed what it takes the average Canadian an entire year, working full-time, to earn,” says Mackenzie.

Key findings in the review of CEO pay in Canada in 2012:

  • Compensation of Canada’s highest paid 100 CEOs continues to skyrocket, with earnings 171 times higher than the average Canadian income earner—up from 105 times more in 1998.
  • There is a new CEO at the top of the compensation list: E. Hunter Harrison, CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway, was Canada’s highest paid CEO in 2012, pocketing $49.1 million in 2012.
  • The lowest paid of the top 100 CEOs pocketed $3.85 million.
  • There are only three women among Canada’s 100 highest paid CEOs.
  • Shares and stock options comprise a significant portion of CEO pay. Among Canada’s highest paid 100 CEOs, 78 of them received part of their pay in grants of stock and 78 enjoyed stock options.
  • The average share in grant in 2012 was valued at $2.87 million; the average option award was valued at $2.17 million.

“Compensation packages paid to Chief Executive Officers have come under intense scrutiny and pressure from shareholders, the media, and the general public. There is no clear relationship between CEO compensation and any measure of corporate performance,” says Mackenzie. “But despite the scrutiny, the pay of CEOs in Canada and elsewhere has proven to be remarkably resilient.”


All In A Day’s Work? CEO Pay in Canada is available on the CCPA website:

For more information contact:

Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, 613-563-1341 x306; [email protected]

Trish Hennessy, CCPA-Ontario Director, 416-525-4927