4 Air Canada execs see pay boost
CBC News May 7, 2012
Rousseau’s compensation grew to $1.68 million, Dee’s was $1.62 million, Smith made $1.37 million and Legge’s was up to $1.15 million… The Montreal-based airline lost $249 million or 92 cents per share last year…
Imagine how much they could have made had they not lost Air Canada a quarter billion dollars? Executive pay in Canada pales in comparison to the US, but the economic injustice is nevertheless apparent
Air Canada flight attendants blocked from striking
CBC News October 11, 2011
The starting salary for a flight attendant is $18,000 a year, which union members complain puts them below the poverty line.
The inherent problem is that income taxes have a far greater relative impact on the incomes of wage earners, who for the most part receive their salaries and wages with taxes already deducted from their paycheques by their employers, than on executives, who for the most part receive the bulk of their compensation in the form of equity. In addition to being retained as wealth, when executives exercise their equity options, they only pay tax on half of their capital gains (Line 199).
At least in theory, executive pay is supposed to be commensurate with the creation of shareholder value, usually measured as increased earnings per share (EPS). Perhaps the defintions of ‘shareholder’ and ‘value’ need to be re-evaluated.
As poverty, phyiscal/mental health and other social problems , effects of the extended economic downturn, become more pronounced, policy makers appear open to considering alternatives solutions to rising inequality. Richard Wilkinson is one proponent of re-evaluating how we approach the problem. Among other things, he proposes addressing income inequality by shifting focus to income/wealth distribution instead of redistribution
Richard Wilkinson In Canada: Income Inequality Guru’s Ideas Gaining Traction In Halls Of Power
Rachel Mendleson, Huffington Post Pay 5, 2012
…he contends that stacking corporate remuneration boards with employees, and supporting the creation of cooperatives and employee-owned companies, is a good place to start.
“An employee buyout turns a company from a piece of property into a community,” he said. “It’s better for us in all sorts of ways — not only because those kind of companies have smaller income differences, but it changes the quality of working relationships.”
Much of the corporate profitability over the last three decades has come from two sources, efficieny in manufacturing and creativity in finance. The former displaced workers and lowered wages, the latter contributed to greater household (and sovereign) debt, not to mention the financial collapose that triggered this extended economic downturn. If the economy has reached the point where further lowering costs or raising revenues can only be achieved by creating unemployment and debt, then some new thinking is needed to stop the race to the bottom. Perhaps new/additional metrics for executive compensations which reward not only increased EPS but job creation, or a reduction of employee turnover/ stress-illness related costs or a company’s environmental impact. Perhaps a federal/provincial taxation scheme that encourages responsible corporate governance; for example, increasing CIT rates back to levels more prevalent today in the US/UK/Australia (the Canadian CIT rate in 2000) and tying rate discounts to a company’s job creation, equitable employee compensation/benefits and envrinonmental sustainability.
Whatever the case, the prevailing system of income/wealth redistribution is failing. Perhaps it’s finally time to revisit the root cause of rising income disparity, the distribution of economic endowments, and address it directly. Recall the SFTWE.