Canada’s 100 highest paid CEOs were paid $1.4B in 2021

Alberta saw 13 CEOs make the top 100 list, compared to just 11 in 2020. And most of them were in the energy sector.

Last week, David Macdonald published his Breakfast of Champions: CEO pay in 2021 hits new all-time high with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. In it, he lists the 100 top executives in Canada, based on the compensation they received in 2021.

Compensation includes salary, shares and stocks, option-based awards, non-equity incentive plan, pensions, and others.

Combined, the 100 executives finished 2021 with $1.427 billion in total compensation. That’s up from $1.088 billion in 2020.

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The highest compensated CEO was Philip Fayer of Nuvei, based out of Montréal. He received over $140 million in total compensation, despite having a salary of nearly $819,000. The bulk of his compensation ($138.4 million) came in the form of stock options.

The next highest compensated CEO was a distant second at $43.4 million. Patrick Dovigi of GFI Environmental Inc, based in Vaughan, Ontario, received a $1.97 million salary, with $37.5 million in stock options and $3.93 million in “all other compensation”.

The lowest compensated executive on Macdonald’s list was Tim Gitzel, president and CEO with Cameco Corp out of Saskatoon. His total compensation was about $6.68 million, with $1.06 million coming from salary.

Both of these executives are new to the list, not having made the 2020 list.

Nearly half of the executives (41) were with Ontario-based companies. Québec came in second at 21, and Alberta’s 13 helped it secure 3rd place, which it shared with BC. In 2020, Ontario had 41 executives, and Alberta had 11.

Despite there being 13 executives from Alberta, there were only 11 companies on the top 100 list from Alberta.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd2
Pembina Pipeline Corp2
Altagas Ltd1
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd1
Cenovus Energy Inc1
Enbridge Inc1
Imperial Oil1
Shaw Communications Inc1
Suncor Energy Inc1
TC Energy Corp1
Transalta Corp1

In 2020, Pembina had only 1 executive on the list. Also, Imperial Oil wasn’t on the list that year.

Here’s how the 11 Alberta companies paid out in total compensation to their executives who made the list:

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd$26,728,981
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd$25,573,839
Pembina Pipeline Corp$21,925,952
Enbridge Inc$19,039,968
Cenovus Energy Inc$13,993,895
Shaw Communications Inc$11,944,069
Suncor Energy Inc$11,800,791
TC Energy Corp$9,813,923
Altagas Ltd$9,273,826
Imperial Oil$8,750,549
Transalta Corp$7,776,120

Total compensation for all Alberta companies was $166.6 million in 2021, which is about an $46.4 million rise from the total $120.2 million paid out in 2020.

Not only did more Alberta executives make the list in 2021 than in 2020, those that did make it were paid better.

The 13 executives from Alberta received an average of $12.82 million in total compensation in 2021. Compare that to 2020, when the average was $10.92 million, and 2019, when the average was $10.13 million.

And here’s how it breaks down by industry:


Finally, here’s total compensation for each CEO:

NameRoleCompanyTotal compensation
Keith E. CreelPresident & CEOCanadian Pacific Railway Ltd$26,728,981
Al MonacoPresident & CEOEnbridge Inc$19,039,968
N. Murray EdwardsExecutive ChairCanadian Natural Resources Ltd$16,112,751
Michael DilgerFormer President & CEOPembina Pipeline Corp$14,345,367
Alexander J. PourbaixPresident & CEOCenovus Energy Inc$13,993,895
Bradley S. ShawCEOShaw Communications Inc$11,944,069
M.S. LittlePresident & CEOSuncor Energy Inc$11,800,791
François PoirierPresident & CEOTC Energy Corp$9,813,923
Tim S. McKayPresident & CEOCanadian Natural Resources Ltd$9,461,088
Randall CrawfordPresident & CEOAltagas Ltd$9,273,826
B.W. CorsonChairman, President & CEOImperial Oil$8,750,549
Dawn FarrellFormer President & CEOTransalta Corp$7,776,120
Scott BurrowsInterim President & CEOPembina Pipeline Corp$7,580,585

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 2021. But his total compensation still came to $16.1 million, bringing him into the top 3 highest paid Alberta executives.

Likewise, 4other executives—B.W. Corson, Imperial Oil’s chair, Presidenta, and CEO; Scott Burrows, the interim president and CEO at Pembina Pipeline; Tim S. McKay, Canadian Natural Resources’ president and CEO; and Dawn Farrell, Transalta’s former 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. McKay hit nearly $9.5 million, Corson received $8.8 million, Farrell got $7.8 million, and Burrows came in last with $7.6 million.

Bradley Shaw, the CEO of Shaw Communications, was the only one on the list who received a 2021 salary of $2 million or higher.

Al Monaco, the president CEO of Enbridge, received the highest compensation in stocks, at $8.9 million. Keith Creel received over $14.9 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 $3.1 million. The highest “other compensation” amount was paid out to Michael Dilger, who received nearly $6.5 million.

Of the 11 Alberta executive who made the list in 2020, 10 were also on the list in 2021. Russell Girling of TC Energy Corporation, who made $14.6 million in 2020, didn’t make the list. However, François Poirier, his successor and the company’s former chief operating officer, did.

Here is how their total compensation changed between the two years.

Al Monaco$17,054,836$19,039,968$1,985,132
Keith E. Creel$16,816,196$26,728,981$9,912,785
Russell Girling/François Poirier$14,551,993$9,813,923-$4,738,070
N. Murray Edwards$13,566,251$16,112,751$2,546,500
Mark S. Little$10,140,505$11,800,791$1,660,286
Alexander J. Pourbaix$9,511,999$13,993,895$4,481,896
Randall Crawford$9,189,392$9,273,826$84,434
Michael Dilger$7,972,829$14,345,367$6,372,538
Tim S. McKay$7,778,219$9,461,088$1,682,869
Bradley S.Shaw$6,867,658$11,944,069$5,076,411
Dawn L. Farrell$6,715,214$7,776,120$1,060,906
B.W. Corsonn/a$8,750,549n/a
Scott Burrowsn/a$7,580,585n/a

In his article, Macdonald proposed 4 measures to deal with pay inequity between executives and median worker pay:

  1. Limit corporate deductibility of compensation over $1 million
    “Companies deduct the value of employee compensation from their taxes in that payroll is a cost of doing business.”
  2. Raise the capital gains inclusion rate to 100%
    “When CEOs are paid this way, the income tax is levied on the value of the shares as if they were cash. However, as those shares gain value over time, the capital gains created can benefit from the capital gains inclusion rate.”
  3. Implement higher top marginal tax brackets
    “In the large provinces, the combined federal-provincial tax on working income at the highest brackets is just over 50%. In the 1950s and 1960s, the top marginal tax rate sat in the 70–80% range. This was also a period of much lower income inequality.”
  4. Introduce a wealth tax
    “The extraordinary pay gap recorded year after year develops into an even larger gap in net worth, as these millions paid per year build up on the assets side.”

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

2 replies on “Canada’s 100 highest paid CEOs were paid $1.4B in 2021”

This is why I could never understand Albertans being so angry about Dr. Verna Yiu, previous AHS President & CEO, being pad a whopping $600,000 per year.
She lead a $22B health system!

I had many online “discussions” with others who thought that she shouldn’t be paid nearly that much because even though she was incredibly qualified and educated, she wasn’t practicing actual medicine by leading the largest healthcare operation in Canada with roughly 120,000 employees.

Of course, most of those people also feel that regular physicians are overcompensated too but they don’t seem to have an issue with the top 100 CEOs averaging $14M/year because that’s not paid for (directly) by their taxes. Far better to be gouged at the pumps, utilities etc to pay these O&G CEOs (and other related industries) an order of magnitude more than the leader of our healthcare system.

As I said back when Dr Yiu was still with AHS, she’d be a bargain at twice the price. Perhaps I should have said that she’d be a bargain at 10x the price!

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