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Occupy Montreal: Victoria Square, Montreal,Quebec

if you’re looking for Canada’s richest 1%, the compensation tables in the proxy circulars of Canadian publicly listed corporations are a good place to start.

 Canada’s Richest

If you’ve made it into Canada’s richest 1% club, you’re among the 246,000 pres­tigious few tax filers who made a minimum of $169,300 and an average income of $404,500 (as of 2007, when the most recent data available is from).

Canada’s CEO Elite

Canada’s CEO Elite 100 — the 100 highest paid CEOs of companies listed in the TSX Index — readily surpass this entrance requirement: Their total average com­pensation hit the heady $8.38 million mark in 2010. That represents a 27% increase over the average $6.6 million they pocketed the previous year.

Lowest paid Canadian paid CEO

The lowest paid among Canada’s CEO Elite 100 ‘earned’ $3.9 million in 2010.   Soaring executive salaries have played a significant role in driving the growth in income inequality in Canada. In 2010, 188 of the CEOs of companies in the TSX Index had enough compensation to get them into the 0.01 %club.

 In the words of the Occupy movement, what about the 99%?

In stark contrast to Canada’s CEO Elite 100, Canadians working full-time, full-year for the average weekly wage earned a humble $44,366 in 2010.

Between September 2010 and September 2011, average weekly earnings in Canada rose by only 1.1%. After taking inflation into account, weekly earnings are now lower than they were during the worst of Canada’s 2008–9 recession, resulting in a dan­gerous mix:

Canadians are feeling the squeeze of shrinking disposable incomes, a rising cost of living, and record-high household debt.

 What are people saying about Occupy Montreal/Wall Street

“I think that there’s a process and people are becoming more aware that they can and should do something political to force the government to do something about economic injustice. In that sense, I think it was very successful.”

“In an objective way, it’s changed people’s ways of thinking and speaking about the rich. We’ve done that for the country. As un-ideal as ‘The 99%’ is, it has focused people on the 1%.” Indeed — hard to imagine Mitt Romney getting the media ride he’s gotten had OWS (Occupy Wall Street) not focused attention on wealth inequity in the world’s richest country.

The Reality

Reality is even harsher for Canada’s minimum wage workers: If they were lucky enough to have a full-time job, minimum wage workers earned, on average, $19,798 in 2010.

Here’s how the income gap between Canada’s CEO Elite 100 and the rest of us plays out in real time: By 12:00 noon January 3, the Elite 100 already have what it takes the average Canadian the rest of the year, working full-time, to earn. The high­est paid pockets the average Canadian wage by about 10:30 a.m. on January 2, the first paid day of the year. It takes the lowest paid among the Elite 100 a little longer to fill their glasses and raise a toast to their success: By 4:43 pm January 4 they’ve surpassed the average Canadian wage earner.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Search the web for Occupy Wall Street/Montreal: Do you think that this movement has slowed down? Will people rise up again and ask governments to stop the inequalities in salaries?
  2. Should Chief Executives Officers (CEO) continue to earn such high wages and benefits?
  3. Would it be feasible to put a salary cap for Executives, similar to the National Hockey League (NHL) salary cap?  How is this salary cap presently working out in the NHL?

To read the complete report , Canada’s CEO Elite 100 , authored by Hugh Mackenzie

Can the Occupy movement gain new traction one year later? read more

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