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Toronto's top CEOs have already made more money than most people will all year

The pandemic has meant absolute financial ruin for millions of people worldwide who've had to face the loss of work hours, loss of their jobs altogether, and of entire businesses and industries amid lockdowns and other health and safety measures.

More than 10,000 restaurants across Canada had to shut their doors permanently in 2020 due to COVID-19, while 8.9 million citizens applied for government assistance via the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. But, as is always the case, the rich have continued to get richer, both before and even during the health crisis.

According to a just-released report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, aptly titled The Golden Cushion, the highest-paid CEOs in the country make a staggering amount more than your average person — so much so that only four days into the year, each has already grossed at least what most individuals will in all of 2021.

The report, which includes the most recent salary data from 2019, shows that the 100 biggest earners running Canadian companies earn anywhere from around $6.3 million to a whopping $27.5 million, averaging a salary of $10.8 million — absolutely unfathomable to the vast majority of us.

A number of Toronto-area names are on the list of top dogs at Canadian firms, including Magna International head Donald J. Walker, Brookfield CEO of the Service Provider Sachin Shah, and ECN Capital Corp former president Jim Nikopoulos.

These three men made $24.2 million, $17.3 million and $15.1 million in 2019, respectively, which equates to somewhere around $7,300 to $11,600 an hour if they worked standard work hours of 40 hours per week for 52 weeks (including two weeks paid vacation).

With those figures, it's disturbingly easy to earn in just a few days what most workers earn annually: the average Canadian wage in that same year is listed as being a mere $53,482.

The data indicates that CEOs on the list, on average, each made a shocking 202 times what a typical Canadian employee did, with half of them on track to earn just as much or even more than they already are in coming years.

To put it in perspective, the document outlines that individuals who received CERB in 2020 were making $500 per week, to be retroactively taxed. Meanwhile, the average weekly income of a top-100 CEO based on numbers from the previous year was around $208,000.

"At the very top of the income spectrum, Canada's highest paid CEOs and other corporate executives have been sitting out the pandemic atop a golden cushion," the document reads.

"The trend continues to be toward ever-greater levels of income inequality — vast disparities that seem to have no positive effect on company performance, yet quite a few measurable negative effects on society."

Though the data does not point to any phenomenon we weren't already aware of, the amounts were indeed astounding to many, with countless calls on social media to further tax the wealthiest among us.

The fact that more than a third of the massive companies on the list received the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, taxpayer funds meant for struggling businesses to help pay their employees during the pandemic, was another slap in the face to the average Canadian just getting by.

Among all of the other reflections and calls for change that 2020 has brought is the very necessary questioning of our capitalist system, and how, as well as who, exactly, it benefits.

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