Last week, David Macdonald published his Another year in paradise: CEO pay in 2020 with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. In it, he lists the 100 top executives in Canada, based on the compensation they received in 2020.
Compensation includes salary, shares and stocks, option-based awards, non-equity incentive plan, pensions, and others.
Combined, the 100 executives finished 2020 with $1.088 billion in total compensation.
The highest compensated CEO was David Klein of Canopy Growth, based out of Smith Falls, Ontario. He received over $45 million in total compensation, despite having a salary barely over $280,000. The bulk of his compensation ($33.3 million) came in the form of stock options.
The lowest compensated executive on Macdonald’s list was Alain Bouchard, founder and executive chair with Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc out of Laval, Québec. His total compensation was about $6.1 million, with $1.4 million coming from salary.
Both of these executives are new to the list, not having made the 2019 list.
Nearly half of the executives (47) were with Ontario-based companies. Québec came in second at 21, and Alberta’s 11 helped it secure 3rd place. In 2019, Ontario had 41 executives, and Alberta had 20.
Despite there being 11 executives from Alberta, there were only 10 companies on the top 100 list from Alberta.
|Canadian Natural Resources||2|
|Canadian Pacific Railway||1|
|Pembina Pipeline Corp||1|
|TC Energy Corporation||1|
In 2019, Shaw had 3 executives on the list, and Enbridge and Suncor each had 2.
Missing from the list in 2020 was EnCana, which renamed itself Onitiv and relocated to Denver shortly after the UCP were elected. They had 2 executives on the list in 2019.
Also absent are Husky Energy, Imperial Oil, and Precision Drilling, all of which had 1 executive make this list in 2019.
Here’s how the 10 Alberta companies paid out in total compensation to their executives who made the list:
|Canadian Natural Resources||$21,344,470|
|Canadian Pacific Railway||$16,816,196|
|TC Energy Corporation||$14,551,993|
|Pembina Pipeline Corp||$7,972,829|
Total compensation for all Alberta companies was $120.2 million in 2020, which is about an $80 million drop from the total $202.7 million paid out in 2019.
However, even though fewer Alberta executives that made the list in 2020, those that did make it were paid better. In 2019, the 20 Alberta executives that made the list received an average of $10.13 million in total compensation. That increased to an average of $10.92 million in 2020.
And here’s how it breaks down by industry:
Finally, here’s total compensation for each CEO:
|Al Monaco||President & CEO||Enbridge||$17,054,836|
|Keith E. Creel||President & CEO||Canadian Pacific Railway||$16,816,196|
|Russell Girling||President & CEO||TC Energy Corporation||$14,551,993|
|N. Murray Edwards||Executive chair||Canadian Natural Resources||$13,566,251|
|Mark S. Little||President & CEO||Suncor Energy||$10,140,505|
|Alexander J. Pourbaix||President & CEO||Cenovus Energy||$9,511,999|
|Randall Crawford||President & CEO||Altagas||$9,189,392|
|Michael Dilger||President & CEO||Pembina Pipeline Corp||$7,972,829|
|Tim S. McKay||President & CEO||Canadian Natural Resources||$7,778,219|
|Bradley S.Shaw||CEO||Shaw Communications||$6,867,658|
|Dawn L. Farrell||President & CEO||Transalta Corp||$6,715,214|
A few interesting things from the Alberta data.
The executive with the lowest salary was N. Murray Edwards, executive chair of the Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources, who received only $1 in salary during 2020. But his total compensation still came to $13.6 million, bringing him into the top 20.
N. Murray Edwards, the executive chair of Canadian Natural Resources, received a salary of only $1 in 2020, same as in 2019. However, when you factor in over $4.6 million in stock options and over $8.9 million in cash bonuses, he received nearly $13.6 million, making him the 4th highest paid executive in Alberta. His cash bonus was the highest of any of the Alberta executives from the list.
Likewise, 3 other executives—Mark S. Little, president and CEO of Suncor; Alexander J. Pourbaix, president and CEO of Cenovus; and Tim S. McKay, Canadian Natural Resources’ president and CEO—all received less than $1 million in salaries. However, they ended up with much more than that once you factor in stocks, cash bonuses, and pensions. Little topped $10 million, Pourbaix $9.5 million, and McKay $7.8 million.
Bradley Shaw, the CEO of Shaw Communications, was the only one on the list who received a 2020 salary of $2 million or higher.
Al Monaco, the president CEO of Enbridge, received the highest compensation in stocks, at $8.5 million. N. Murray Edwards received over $4.6 million in stock options, the most of anyone on the list.
The highest pension value that year was awarded to Dawn Farrell, President & CEO of Transalta, who received almost $1.5 million. The highest “other compensation” amount was paid out to Shaw, who received a little over $450,000.
Every Alberta executive who made the list in 2020 was also on the list in 2019. Here is how their total compensation changed between the two years.
|Keith E. Creel||$15,150,402||$16,816,196||$1,665,794|
|N. Murray Edwards||$12,819,901||$13,566,251||$746,350|
|Mark S. Little||$11,718,684||$10,140,505||-$1,578,179|
|Alexander J. Pourbaix||$9,046,317||$9,511,999||$465,682|
|Tim S. McKay||$8,174,967||$7,778,219||-$396,748|
|Dawn L. Farrell||$6,760,014||$6,715,214||-$44,800|
In his article, Macdonald proposed 5 measures to deal with pay inequity between executives and median worker pay:
- Cap corporate deductibility at $1 million per employee
“At present corporations can deduct all executive compensation from their corporate taxes.”
- Eliminate capital gains inclusion rate loophole
“The largest means of compensation for Canada’s highest-paid CEOs is awards in stock. As shares increase in value, they disproportionately benefit from stock prices gains being taxed at half the rate as regular income.”
- Eliminate stock option deduction for large companies
The stock option deduction was capped at $200,000 in 2021. The Liberal government justified a cap, instead of full elimination, in part, to provide incentives to tech startups. None of Canada’s highest-paid 100 CEOs are in tech startups, yet they still receive this tax break.
- Implement higher top marginal tax brackets
The highest-paid CEOs receive substantial compensation in cash bonuses in addition to their average salary of $1.2 million. This places them at the very top of Canada’s income distribution. Several thousand dollars to someone already making on average almost $11 million means much less than that same amount to someone making $50,000.
- Introduce a wealth tax
The stock options and stock awards in this report are valued when they are given out, not when they are eventually sold. In most cases, executives make far more upon sale than what is being reported. Large holdings of company stock make the net worth gap between CEOs and workers much larger than the 191 times income gap. A wealth tax could help constrain this growing wealth inequality.