CEOs Benefit From Wage Subsidy

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    Despite the onset of a pandemic which led to layoffs and financial woes for many workers Canada’s 100 top-paid CEOs earned $95,000 more in 2020 than they did pre-pandemic, says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). “While [2020] was really a pretty bad year for most Canadians, particularly lower paid working Canadians, many of whom lost their jobs … it wasn’t at all a bad year for CEOs,” says David Macdonald, report author and senior economist with the CCPA. He combined each CEO’s base salary plus compensation, such as cash bonuses and stock options, to tally up their income totals. His report says more than one third of the companies headed by those CEOs received the COVID-19 Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) either directly or indirectly through their subsidiaries or franchisees. This added subsidy helped some CEOs achieve revenue targets for lucrative bonuses, even though their companies may have suffered financially due to the pandemic. “Many of these companies probably didn’t need the [CEWS], but if there’s federal money available, they were going to apply and they were going to take it,” he says. “That was not what this program was meant for.”