Cashing in: Canada’s CEO salary surge

A list of the Top 50 CEOs and their astronomical take-home pay increases



In the past 12 years, there’s been a 444 per cent salary increase for Canada’s top CEOs. The top 10 earners collected a total of $60.7 million in 1995—by 2007, that number had jumped to $330.3 million. For example, Paul Desmarais, CEO of  Power Corp, made more than $5 million in 1995; in 2007, his take-home was more than $29 million.

Here’s a breakdown of the take-home pay for all 50 of Canada’s top CEOs—in 1995 and in 2007. Read ’em and weep.

1995, total take home for the year:

  1. Gerald Pencer, Cott Corp. $13,005,559
  2. John Doddridge, Magna Intl. $10,853,543
  3. David Walsh, Bre-X Minerals. $10,008,000
  4. Paul Desmarais, Power Corp. $5,654,258
  5. Stephen Hudson, Newcourt Credit Group. $4,221,471
  6. Brent Ballantyne, Maple Leaf Foods. $3,588,306
  7. Clayton Woltas, Renaissance Energy. $3,483,600
  8. Richard Thomson, Toronto Dominion Bank. $3,372,804
  9. Bernard Isautier, Canadian Occidental Petroleum. $3,303,120
  10. Lawrence Bloomberg, First Marathon Inc. $3,252,000
  11. Michel Perron, Uniforet Inc. $3,250,000
  12. Gerald Schwartz, Onex Corp. $3,150,000
  13. Charles Childers, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan. $3,106,847
  14. David O’Brien, PanCanadian Petroleum. $3, 075, 463
  15. William Holland, United Dominion Industries. $3, 068, 543
  16. Brian Steck, Nesbitt Thomson. $2, 527, 935
  17. Edgar Bronfman Jr., Seagram Co. Ltd., $2, 523, 074
  18. Matthew Barrett, Bank of Montreal. $2, 511, 953
  19. Richard Currie, Loblaw Cos. $2, 400, 000
  20. John Cleghorn, Royal Bank of Canada. $2, 281, 192
  21. Purdy Crawford, Imasco. Ltd., $2, 267, 152
  22. James Buckeo, Talisman Energy. $2, 251, 346
  23. Jean Monty, Northern Telecom. $2, 236, 444
  24. Anthony Feil, RBC Dominion Securities. $2, 010, 055
  25. Peter Godsoe, Bank of Nova Scotia. $1, 966, 868
  26. Al Flood, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. $1,906,334
  27. Jacques Bougie, Alcan Aluminum. $1,782,205
  28. Edward Newall, Nova Corp. $1,657,358
  29. Franklin Pickard, Falconbridge Ltd. $1,584,441
  30. Lynton Wilson, BCE Inc. $1,543,583
  31. Reto Braun, Moore Corp. $1,491,954
  32. Robert Ogilvie, Toromont Industries. $1,476,641
  33. Kenneth Thomson, Thomson Corp. $1,474,560
  34. Peter Munk, Barrick Gold. $1,352,551
  35. James Stanford, Petro-Canada. $1,344,197
  36. Israel Asper, CanWest Global Communications. $1,337,408
  37. Andre Berard, National Bank of Canada. $1,334,336
  38. Hollis Harris, Air Canada. $1,316,868
  39. James Bullock, Laidlaw Inc. $1,307,562
  40. Peter Munk, Horsham Corp. $1,280,000
  41. William Shields, Co-Steel Inc. $1,277,108
  42. David Galloway, Torstar Corp. $1,212,679
  43. Robert  Peterson, Imperial Oil Ltd. $1,176,751
  44. George Kosich, Hudson’s Bay Co. $1,162,855
  45. William Casey, Coca-Cola Beverages. $1,138,253
  46. Gwyn Morgan, Alberta Energy Co. $1,131,769
  47. Wayne Lenton, Canada Tungsten Inc. $1,130,190
  48. Ronald Oberlander, Abitibi-Price. $1,129,704
  49. Donald Shaffer, Sears Canada Inc. 1,128,227
  50. John Wilson, Placer Dome Inc. $1,123,069

2007, total take home for the year:

  1. Michael Lazaridis, Research in Motion Ltd. $51, 515, 518
  2. Gordon Nixon, Royal Bank of Canada. $44, 270, 084
  3. Robert A. Milton, ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. $42, 928, 122
  4. James Balsillie, Research in Motion Ltd., $32, 053, 959
  5. Paul Desmarais Jr., Power Corp. of Canada. $29, 292, 829
  6. Andre Desmarais, Power Corp. of Canada. $28, 675, 763
  7. Bruce Flatt, Brookfield Asset Management Inc. $27, 164, 707
  8. J.M. Lipton, Nova Chemicals Corp. $25, 639, 972
  9. Raymond McFeerors, Great-West Lifeco Inc. $24, 759, 648
  10. William Doyle, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan. $24, 020, 161
  11. James Buckee, Talisman Energy Inc. $21, 764, 501
  12. Charles Fischer, Nexen Inc. $20, 492, 640
  13. Michael Wilson, Agrium Inc. $19, 783, 195
  14. Donald Stewart, Sun Life Financial Inc. $19, 535, 510
  15. Richard George, Suncor Energy Inc. $18, 264, 513
  16. Ian W. Delaney, Sherritt International Corp. $17, 744, 953
  17. Ron Brenneman, Petro-Canada. $17, 684, 375
  18. Peter Marrone, Yamana Gold Inc. $17, 381, 267
  19. Richard Waugh, Bank of Nova Scotia. $16, 004, 233
  20. Dominic D’Alessandro, Manulife Financial Corp. $14, 715, 681
  21. John Lau, Husky Energy Inc., $14, 251, 958
  22. Tim Hearn, Imperial Oil. Ltd., $13, 380, 227
  23. Siegfried Wolf, Magna International Inc., $13, 359, 110
  24. Hunter Harrison, Canada National Railway Co., $13, 322, 045
  25. Tye Burt, Kinross Gold Corp. $13, 200, 601
  26. Gerald Schwartz, Onex Corp. $12,621,993
  27. Donald Walker, Magna International Inc. $12,105,897
  28. Jean Claude Gandur, Addax Petroleum Corp. $11,190,781
  29. Gregory Wilkins, Barrick Gold Corp. $10,269,550
  30. Dr. Rui Feng, Silvercorp metals Inc. $10,169,212
  31. Robert Brown, CAE Inc (for fiscal year). $10,141,957
  32. Edmund Clark, Toronto-Dominion Bank. $9,840,466
  33. Richard Harrington, Thomson Reuters Corp. $9,676,404
  34. Kevin McArthur, Goldcorp Inc. $9,647,602
  35. Gerald Grandey, Cameo Corp. $9,500,865
  36. Jacques Lamarre, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. $9,076,920
  37. M.H. McCain, Maple Leaf Foods Inc. $8,551,534
  38. Steve Laut, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. $8,278,031
  39. Arthur Millholland, Oilexco Inc. $8,123,573
  40. Colin K Benner, Lundin Mining Corp. $8,041,232
  41. William Downe, Bank of Montreal. $8,008,707
  42. Stephen Snyder, TransAlta Corp. $7,461,700
  43. Darren Entwistle, TELUS Corp. $7,440,557
  44. John M Cassaday, Corus Entertainment Inc. $7,427,237
  45. Jurgen Schreiber, Shopper Drug Mart Corp. $7,147,083
  46. Gerald M. Soloway, Home Capital Group Inc. $6,928,000
  47. William Holland, CI Financial Income Fund. $6,803,141
  48. Robert A Quartermain, Silver Standard Resources Inc. $6,744,145
  49. Mike Zafirovski, Nortel Networks Corp. $6,715,734
  50. Jim Shaw, Shaw Communications Inc. $6,709,219

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Cashing in: Canada’s CEO salary surge

  1. So, Robert Milton made the equivalent of the salaries of $858 Air Canada staffers. Makes you wonder about the high costs of unionized employment, doesn’t it?

    Sure, the pensions are the problem…

  2. Oops! Ignore the dollar sign in my last post, please.

  3. Funny – no women made this list……..
    Guess we’ve come a long way…………………………………………………

    • Yes, I was wondering where the women were on this list too!

      • Maybe the women are the overpaid union workers collecting pensions and benefits… cough cough

        I’d love to see a list of wages/salaries of the people who work for the above companies, and not just the management types. How many of them have a unionised workforce and how well did the last couple of contract negotiations go?

  4. Well nice to see the incompetant greedheads who aided and abeted the distruction of the middle class and demolished the world economy have been well compensated for their efforts. The rest of us peasants should be very thankful. As W might say, mission accomplished. Cheers.


  6. I would hope that revenue Canada has taken a similar percentage or larger of these incomes as it extracts from the rest of us.

    • no kidding, they go after small businesses like bullies, they’ll seize and account for a mere 3g or less without warning but is it the same with a big business??

  7. This is helpful in recognizing good management, not just bad. Eg., Robert Ogilvie of Toromont (TIH) made $1.5MM (#32) in 2005. Then Toromont was around $500MM in revenue. In 2007 his salary was around $2MM I believe (he is not in the second list). Toromont revenues were over $1.5 Billion. That’s honest strong management. I can’t understand why 80% of the salaries in the 2007 list.

  8. They are crooks and are stealing your money. You think you can make money in the stock market? Might as well to to Vegas, you are just gambling. The CEO’s are other excutives are eating into all the profits now. Look at the bank guys. Ther job didn’t really change, but they went from $2 million or so to $20 million. All the other execs under them got similar wage increases I’m sure, for no reason.

    Capitalism was a great idea for a long time, but it’s running amuck. The guys at the top don’t care, they want all the money and are taking it. “Trickle up economics” remains a term I’m waiting for someone to coin. These guys cash in obscene amouts in the good times, then take their golden parachutes in the bad, and sign on to some other company 2 years later like a white knight even after leaving past investors holding the bag. I mean, the facts right in the headline 444%! It is black-and-white, and yet we still have our heads in the sand, and accept a system that more and more enriches a smaller and smaller group of people, leaving the rest of us stalled. Fact: For most of you, your children will be poorer than you were.

  9. There is a lot of talk about the root cause of the financial crisis we’re now in. I think the root cause is managerial compensation, how managers are paid and how much they are paid.

    Our managerial class has created havoc on a titanic scale. They have ruined companies and economies and destroyed millions of livelihoods. We are talking about bailouts and stimulus packages in the trillions. These results do not justify paying our managerial class these preposterous amounts of money.

    • Really? Presumably your are not referring to the list above – which Canadian institutions have done that?

  10. Robert Milton has left a trail of corporate debris and threatened pensioners with reduced pensions and still managed to suck a huge windfall in his wake. The destruction of a once proud company has rewards!

  11. I’ve watched the CEO of our company take a special $400,000 (53% of his salary) bonus for making one of his six metrics. The Metric he did make was directly a result of the hard work of our business area, which received a 2% bonus. Thanks for nothing. This tight wad’s company cell phone has a local number to his New Jersey home (he is located in outside the US currently) so that his family and friends can call him without incurring any long distance charges. I find it absolutely ridiculous that these kind of people can’t pay for ANYTHING themselves when they make obscene amounts of money. Of course, I’m supposed to curtail all my expenses to help the company through these rough times. Ridiculous!

  12. At the BOTTOM of the list, Mr Shaw makes approximately $18,000 / day. I don’t even know how to respond to that.

    • I get $ 27,000 a day in pay. I assume 48 weeks of work, (cause ya know they need a little 'stacation' who can afford to fly?) divided by a five day week. Now if they come in on the weekends, thats dedication and its appreciated but we're not paying(!), so:

      6.7 million / 48 / 5 = $ 27,916 for a days work.
      On hius first day at work, (dont tax them thats theft!) he makes more than you all year long, cause he don't have no deductions, he has bonuses!

      Can we negotiate to replace our deductions with bonuses in the next contract… oh wait unions are evil cause they make people have, the force wages .. they umm aren't — I got nothin.

      Time for a new way of doing things.

  13. How is it that CEOs make so much yet some of the companies they work for can carry on business at an astounding loss year after year?

  14. This is a prime example of glutenouse greed – who in the world would want to be a shareholder of any of these companies. It's time for shareholders to hold senior officers( including directors) feet to the fire.

  15. Uh, some of these people never saw there families worked 16 hour days traveled wknds, supported staff, invented mechanisms to insure safety at there businesses…for all those people who say they didn't deserve it. When was the last time you worked 7 days straight and didn't complain about it??

    • I would not complain about working 7 days straight for $18,000 per day. Are you wacked !!!!????

      • I’ve worked 7 days a week many times without overtime because they make sure cut off is in the middle so they dont have to, while the ceo collects jets.  end a shift at 10pm and work 5am the next day and because of the crazy schedule never see family as when they’re off i’m working.  But if i got 18,000 per day I wouldn’t complain one bit!!!!!!!  Some are clueless of what it is like to work yr but off and still not have money or be appreciated for the crazy schedule you work!  The richer they are the cheaper most seem to be.

    • I work six staight all the time weekends, holidays, etc. & only make $ 15/hr. Need I say more?

    • I work for myself, so I often work 12 hr days 7 days a week and don’t complain. But I sure as H -E – double hockey sticks don’t make tens of thousands a day.
      If I did, there would be arts centers built across northern Canada. But then my base values are deeper than what I can get.

  16. Well, I agree that facially, these amounts sound insanely high. But then again, put it into a broader perspective and compare these salaries with those of hollywood actors, musicians, pro athletes. They are all the best at what they do!

  17. I would agree with CEOs making profits if the government just didn't dump a heck of a lot of money into the economy to keep it afloat. Our money!!!

    This money we are living off now is tax payers money. All 60 billion or so of it… I'm hoping this money keeps circulating in the economy creating real innovation, real growth, return on investment (through real product/service development that is exportable – the real way to grow the economy is to export real product/services), real value…
    I'm not seeing it though.

    I'm hearing a lot of – buy consumers buy! In desperation from our politicians.
    I'm hearing a lot of begging by politicians as they just got back from India and China – a huge market at 2.5 billion people. Not bad if we sell real product/service! A bad thing if they are just coming to take our resources (eg tar sands – we use natural gas, yes the stuff you heat your house with, to boil oil out of the sand).

    We seem to be in a desperate state of affairs. There is something else hiding in the background though – the end of cheap energy – peak oil. So, expect more bail outs.

    I'm just hoping all this bail out money is going to good causes otherwise we are going to have a lot of people out of work very soon as the pool of money dries up (economic heat sinks is what I call them).
    There is a lot of fluff money going around. Lots of hot tubs. Lots of big homes. Very little return on investment for long term value added growth.

    Shame more people don't see it nor speak up. Such is canada I guess – almost in a don't care state as long as we have cheap coffee and cheap beer… cause that's what seems to count. not innovation nor efficiencies (that's economics 101 folks! the basic stuff we don't seem to get!)

  18. would be nice to see more long term investment in human capital instead of big bonuses that don't necessarily mean anything really. (as the stockmarket is like a casino now, no longer works as it was intended – for R&D investment etc…)

    We need a complete revamp of our systems – government structures, stockmarket, business, tax system etc…

    One that breeds – innovation, efficiency (that's economics 101 folks! Efficiency of scale), R&D, long term investment, real returns, real value added product/service, added growth – real growth to the nation – human capital and knowledge growth, real long term job growth, etc…

    I'm just not seeing it.
    I'm seeing a lot of short term vision and investment.

    Could be the fact that all those investing know what is around the corner – peak oil. The end of cheap to get at oil. Gone is the days we stick a pipe in the ground and let the economy go round and round.
    Now, we are about to boil oil out of sand. All trillion barrels worth (the world uses up around 86 million barrels a day – this cheap oil keeps the economy going – cheap goods, cheap transportation, cheap heat, big homes, low inflation, low interest rates etc…).

    We are in for a big surprise. I think we are going for broke now and the politicians are giving it all away for the sake of votes really.
    Pushing the bar tab off to future generations.

    lets just hope they don't retaliate on our joy-fun times…

    lots of fluff money going around. Just hope that some of these CEOs aren't cashing in on the quick buck fun and are really making product/service that has long term growth and investment (real knowledge growth of our economy and of our people of this land – human capital). I just don't see it though.

  19. true capitalism is nature. If we did have a truly capitalist market, many corporations wouldn't have survived "the great recession" of 2009 and many many people wouldn't still have their 4000sq ft homes, 2-3 vehicles, and hot tubs.

    What we seem to have now is social corporatism. Where we are all sheep following…

    not to say that some of the mentioned CEOs don't deserve it. But, I'm sure there are some that just skimmed off the stock market casino way of quick buck thinking (money gets dumped into the economy, those with the biggest spoons get to skim off the top of the pool. While the rest of us with smaller spoons get left with dribbles of water…
    We are living off of a credit card, again…

    Canadians don't mind though – too ignorant – ignorance is bliss in this country to some extent. Gullible. Lots of easy money to be made without pain. What ever happened to short term pain for long term gain.
    Guess we don't want to "offend" anyone in.
    Hardship will come sooner or later though. No free lunch in this universe. Its a finite planet for the most part. Yet some politicians and business folks think otherwise…

  20. I hate this fucked up world!!!

  21. If you were smart enough or sacrificed enough to be a CEO would you be complaining?

  22. Thank you for your public market CEO salary list. I am more sympathetic to the CEOs who actually founded their companies and went through the horrible stages of growth – like the RIM guys. Honestly, they became "overnight" successes after decades of risk taking with their own cash. So Gerry Schwarts and Mike – go ahead and their shareholders want them there to add the value they have shown they can add.
    But the mining companies with top earners but who's profits are at the bottom of the tank should get fired.
    I also appreciate the best value for their salary–thanks Prem!
    Keep it coming MacLeans. You are becoming my need to read over The Economist!

  23. One more reason I love Canada. Work, and get rewarded. Those that hate these people because of their earnings should try educating and applying themselves. Life (and your bank account) is what you make it.

  24. Its cold comfort to take note that the bank that eventually squeezed many of us farmers into bankruptcy, as the hog industry collapsed, haven’t passed their losses onto the ivory tower execs. Ted L.

  25. Companies such as the Northwest Company and Rollins are the most racist companies on earth. These companies treat non-white employees like shit. I have worked for this company for over 15 years and being eskimo, you always feel inferior because there is some white dumbass person who believes that they know more than you. THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO DO MORE TO URGE THESE COMPANIES TO DIVERSIFY – RACISM IS WRONG.

  26. The northwest company outta Winnipeg is indeed very racist – in fact it is the most racist company that I have worked for. The leaders are ALL white where as most of the workers are eskimo, latino and niggas.

  27. Paul Desmarais, CEO of  Power Corp dosnt deserve 29Mil.gosh are these guys crazy to pay and old fart tha much?

  28. Capitalism at it’s best. It’s almost criminal

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