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CEOs’ pay isn’t always great

The average Canadian CEO had already earned the average Canadian salary ($40,234) by 9:04 a.m., January 2. That’s according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

But the CCPA may have missed the heartbreaking story of the yawning income gap between the top CEOs and the wretches struggling along on a lousy $3 million a year.

In a January 2 news release, the CCPA reported that the top 100 Canadian CEOs earned an average 2007 pay hike of 22 percent.

“In contrast,” the CCPA noted, “average Canadian earnings rose by only 3.2% -- the best increase in the past five years, but a small fraction of the CEOs’ pay hike and barely keeping up with inflation.”

Average 2007 income of the top 100 CEOs was $10,408,054.

The CCPA’s report “Banner Year for CEOs,” downloadable as a PDF, names the top 100 by name, salary, and total compensation. And that’s where the real shocker is lurking.

The report lists Michael Lazaridis of Research in Motion as the best-paid CEO, with a total 2007 income of $51,515,518. Assuming a 40-hour work week and a 50-week work year, that gives Mr. Lazaridis an hourly rate of $25,757.

Not far behind is Gordon Nixon of Royal Bank of Canada, with $44,270,084 or $22,135 per hour. And Robert A. Milton of ACE Aviation Holdings, with $42,928,122 was making $21,464 per hour.

But go to the bottom of the list and you see a very different story. Richard P. Clark of Red Back Mining made a mere $3,096,250, for an hourly rate of $1,548. Pierre Blouin of Manitoba Telecom Services was right behind him: $3,085,533 or $1,542 an hour.

And Mayo M. Schmidt of Viterra couldn’t even break the 3-million mark: He earned $2,970,946 for an hourly slave-wage of $1,485.

The CEO closest to the average was Gregory Wilkins of Barrick Gold, who made $10,269,550 ($5,134 per hour) -- and he ranked #29. Appallingly, 70 of Canada’s top 100 CEOs actually earned below the average.

So the top three execs were making 4 to 5 times the average, and 16 or 17 times the hourly pay of poor Mayo M. Schmidt.

At these rates, it’s a wonder that 70 per cent of our top CEOs even bother to get out of bed in the morning.

Crawford Kilian, a contributing editor of The Tyee, also blogs about Bridging the Income Gap.

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