What’s a CEO worth?

Thirty years ago, the top earning 100 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in Canada earned forty times the national average. Today, they earn 193 times the national average, according to Hugh Mackenzie, author of a report of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published Tuesday. The average top earning CEO’s salary today is $9.5 million per year, compared to $49,510 per year for the average Canadian full-time worker. CEO’s salaries increased 30% between 2008 and 2015. During the same period the national average wage increased by 17.5%.

Between 2014 and 2015, CEO’s salaries increased by 7%, almost double the average annual increase between 2008 and 2015.

The three highest paid CEOs in Canada were Michael Pearson, CEO of Valeant Pharmaceutical ($182.9 million); Donald Walker, Magna International ($26.5 million); and Hunter Harrison, Canadian Pacific Railway ($19.9 million). The lowest paid CEO (of the top 100) was Eric La Flèche, Metro Inc. at “just” $3.6 million. Of the 100 top earning CEOs, only two were women.

For comparison, a neurosurgeon earns about $223,753 per year in Canada, about 4.5 times the national average. By this logic, the average top earning CEO is over 42 times more valuable than the average neurosurgeon.

Mackenzie called the salary difference “absurd,” noting that “nobody’s worth that much money.”


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