CEO to Worker Pay: Global Competition for Top Talent

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CEO to Worker Pay: Global Competition for Top Talent


  • A 2018 CCPA report found that the average compensation for the 100 highest-paid CEOs in Canada was $10.4 million, 209 times higher than the average industrial wage in Canada ($49,738).
  • Extending the analysis to include all CEOs in the survey reduced average compensation by 77.1% to $2.2 million; the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay fell to 43 to 1.
  • Quite telling, the average CEO compensation for the last grouping in the survey is $78,651, a decline of 99.2% compared to the top 100 CEOs; the ratio of CEO-to-worker compensation falls to 1.5-to-1.
  • Data for the-top paid global athletes, actors, and musicians shows that they follow the same pattern as CEO compensation. The reality is that there is a global phenomenon regarding the compensation of top talent across sectors.
  • Research tends to agree that (1) expanding the size of the market and (2) non-substitutability of top talent are the key explanations.
  • Given this global and cross-sector phenomenon, it is not clear how the punitive taxes, governance reforms, or other recommendations would actually reverse, slow, or otherwise affect CEO compensation. It is more probable that such policies would simply encourage “superstars” to re-locate in other more hospitable jurisdictions, harming the Canadian economy and the organizations that employed such people.

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