BlackBerry co-CEOs in Canada get astronomical salaries

January 2nd, 2009 - 10:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Jan 2 (IANS) BlackBerry founder Michael Lazaridis and his co-CEO James Balsillie were top grossers among Canada’s best paid 100 CEOs who collectively earned a whopping $1 billion in 2007.While Lazaridis’ pay package stood at $51.5 million, RIM co-CEO Balsillie earned $32.05 million, said a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) here Thursday.

Calling it a “historical first” in corporate Canada, the report ‘Banner year for Canada’s CEOs: Record high pay increase’, said: “Canada may be in for a rocky economic ride, but the nation’s best paid 100 CEOs are still basking in the glow of the banner year of 2007 - they got a record 22 percent average pay hike in 2007.”

Said CCPA research associate Hugh Mackenzie: “At that rate of pay, Canada’s richest CEOs pocket the average Canadian wage of $40,237 by 9.04 a.m. Jan 2 - before most Canadians have booted up their computer for another year of work.”

“If you made what most would consider a substantial salary - say the $100,000 a year that gets you onto the so-called sunshine list in some provinces - the highest paid 100 CEOs would have pocketed your annual earnings by the end of lunch hour Jan 5. Three minutes past one, to be precise,” he said.

“It’s worse for minimum wage earners: By just afternoon on New Years’ Day, the highest paid 100 CEOs would have pocketed what takes the average minimum wage earner the entire year to earn.”

According to the report, the 100 highest paid CEOs of Canadian publicly traded corporations received an average of $10.4 million in 2007, up 22 percent from 2006.

The report said the 100-list includes “big bank CEOs who recently received billions in federal government bailout money to purchase mortgage loans, and energy company CEOs who, until recently, were surfing the big wave of crude oil price increases”.

Comparing the CEO salaries to ordinary Canadians, the report said their average earnings rose by only 3.2 percent - the best increase in the past five years, but a small fraction of the CEOs’ pay hike and barely keeping up with inflation.

“Compared with ordinary Canadians, whose wages have been stagnant for 30 years, Canada’s economic downturn promises to hit the masses far harder than the best paid 100 CEOs,” said Mackenzie.

“They have enjoyed a decade of record pay hikes and will land on a softer cushion if they stumble from their lofty heights in the New Year.”

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