Who Earns What: The stories behind Toronto’s top salaries

Who Earns What

The stories behind Toronto’s top salaries

By Anthony Milton, with research from Amy Fiske | Photo illustrations by Stephanie Firka
| June 19, 2024

Money is on everyone’s lips in these financially fraught times—the exorbitant price of food, gas and shelter; the stagnating state of our wages; the ever-expanding income gap—so it seemed like the perfect moment to resurrect our city-wide salary survey, which we last compiled in 2011. A lot has changed. To figure out who makes what in 2024, we dug through documents, consulted experts, emailed subjects, then called them, then emailed them again—and got turned down. A lot. (Everyone wanted to know what other people made, but their own earnings were none of our &@*#%?! business.) In the following pages, you’ll find out who’s squeaking by, who’s maxing out their RRSPs and who’s buy-an-archipelago rich. You’ll read about the CEOs who draw $1 salaries* but have some eye-popping perks, the public servants who make more than the mayor (lots of them), and the city’s newest crop of athletes, who should probably, definitely be asking for a raise.

*All amounts in Canadian dollars. Conversions, where applicable, calculated at time of publication.


Business

Shopify founder Tobias Lütke
Tobias Lütke

CEO of Shopify

$1

Shopify’s founder relocated to Toronto this year, shifting the e-commerce giant’s centre of gravity out of Ottawa. A few months earlier, the company announced plans to slash roughly 20 per cent of its staff. Amid such layoffs, Lütke’s stated salary of one loonie per year appeared to be a gesture of noblesse oblige. But its effect was undercut somewhat when he was awarded $27.3 million in stock options in 2023 and approved for $205 million in stock- and share-based awards to be paid out over the coming years—one of the largest compensation packages in Canadian history. Lütke, who already owns some $8 billion in Shopify stock, also serves on the board of crypto exchange platform Coinbase, which paid him $411,145 in stocks last year. All told, his net worth is a whopping $7.4 billion.


Dani Reiss, CEO of Canada Goose
Dani Reiss

CEO of Canada Goose

$6,967,423

Reiss drew close to $7 million last year—33 per cent less than in 2022—after an unseasonably warm winter hurt coat sales and led to cascading layoffs across the company’s corporate workforce.

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Greg Hicks

CEO of Canadian Tire

$6,039,814

Canadian Tire missed its short-term targets following last year’s sales slump, and the company’s executives paid the price, with each forgoing their incentives for the year. That meant a pay cut of nearly $450,000 for Hicks.


Tony Staffieri

CEO of Rogers Communications

$12,975,476

Despite stagnant share prices, Staffieri received $9 million in option-based awards last year, or 643 per cent of his $1.4-million base salary. Other bonuses brought his total to nearly $13 million—which pales next to the $31.5 million he made in 2022.


Roy Gori

CEO of Manulife

$19,382,615

Gori got a $2.3-million raise in 2023, which represents only 12 per cent of his total income. It was his reward for making Manulife the top insurance company on the TSX and boosting its return on equity by 4.6 per cent since he took the role in 2017.

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Kevin Strain

CEO of Sun Life

$10,649,521

Strain pulled in $1.2 million more last year than in 2022 for overseeing an 11 per cent jump in profits. This year got off to a rockier start, with the company’s share price tumbling after a lacklustre first quarter. With much of his compensation at risk, Strain will need to get things in order if he wants another big payout in 2024.


David Neinstein
David Neinstein

Chef and owner of Barque Smokehouse

$0

Every restaurateur we contacted about their compensation sent us packing, with one notable exception: Neinstein, who made headlines in 2022 when he instituted a no-tipping policy at his Roncesvalles restaurant. He now pays his staff a starting wage of $22.50 per hour, rising to $30 per hour for experienced servers, plus benefits and vacation days. The egalitarian scheme yields more predictable paycheques and greater equity between the front- and back-of-house staff, but it has come at a cost to Neinstein: with rising supply prices, frugal diners and a failed expansion, Barque isn’t breaking even. Neinstein’s business survives thanks to infusions from his wife’s dentistry practice.

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Galen Weston Jr.
Galen Weston Jr.

CEO of George Weston Ltd. and former CEO of Loblaw Companies Ltd.

$11,762,145

Loblaw Companies Ltd. has become the poster child for inflation. The social media movement “Loblaws Is Out of Control” organized a customer boycott in May and has been gaining momentum—skewering the supermarket behemoth for jacking up food prices while raking in record profits. Weston stepped down as CEO last fall, but he hasn’t gone far: he still owns more than 470,000 Loblaw shares and has a controlling stake through his holding company, George Weston Ltd. Between his earnings as outgoing CEO of Loblaw and his income from George Weston Ltd., he made close to $12 million last year—this after a 2022 report by Meridian Compensation Partners claimed that he was being underpaid. Going forward, he will continue to draw an annual compensation of $750,000 as a non-­executive chairman.


Per Bank

CEO of Loblaw Companies Ltd.

$22,137,979

The Danish retail exec became CEO of Loblaw Ltd. last fall, after leading his home country’s dominant supermarket conglomerate, Salling Group, for more than a decade. His transcontinental move was rewarded handsomely—double Galen Weston Jr.’s income. However, more than half of it was a one-time payment, and the majority of that cash is in stock and performance-based bonuses tied to the fortunes of the business. With boycotters chanting the new CEO’s own catchphrase nok er nok back at him (Danish for “enough is enough,” which he used in a memo to staff in April about the looming boycotts), Bank’s ability to continue making such huge sums may be compromised.

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Jeff Leger

President of Shoppers Drug Mart

$3,206,379

Shoppers is one of Loblaw’s most recognizable brands, and Leger has been overseeing it since 2018. Trained in pharmacy and business, the former Maritimer made headlines earlier this year when the CBC reported that the company’s pharmacists were being asked to meet quotas for services like medication reviews (which can be billed to the government). Though Leger publicly denied having targets, corporate emails leaked to the CBC alleged otherwise.


Who Earns What: The stories behind Toronto’s top salaries

Michael Medline

CEO of Empire Company Ltd.

$6,767,791

As head of the Empire Company conglomerate, Medline oversees Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, IGA and Foodland, plus a few smaller retailers. Empire’s stock price failed to keep up with its competitors in 2023, including Loblaw. As a result, Medline’s compensation fell short of his previous $8.6-million haul. The CEO has since become the first major Canadian grocer to back the federal government’s proposed grocery code of conduct, an as-yet-theoretical set of guidelines that would, presumably, keep food prices reasonable.

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Heather Reisman
Heather Reisman

CEO of Indigo

$1

Last August, Reisman was set to depart from the company she founded after a year defined by a cyberattack, the resignation of nearly half of the board of directors and roughly $50 million in losses. But retirement was not to be: CEO Peter Ruis, who earned $1.9 million in 2023, left for UK department store chain John Lewis and Partners a mere month later, and Reisman returned to the post. In the time since, Indigo has laid off an undisclosed number of employees across several provinces. Just when it looked like the bookseller’s story might be over, a twist: through his Trilogy companies, Reisman’s billionaire husband, Gerry Schwartz, bought a majority stake. For 2024, Reisman is drawing a symbolic salary of $1—in addition to a $13,000 parking allowance at Indigo’s downtown head office.


Patrick Dovigi

CEO of Green for Life Environmental

$68,464,987

The largest annual salary in this year’s roundup belongs to the CEO of a garbage disposal company. GFL Environmental is run by its founder, Dovigi, who last year gave himself a 307 per cent raise, including $10 million for premiums on his life insurance policy and another $10 million to cover the taxes up front. The move led two investor advisory firms to urge shareholders to vote no, but with a controlling grasp of the votes and support from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, a major investor in the company, the CEO got his way.

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Sports

Swimmer Summer McIntosh
Summer McIntosh

Swimmer

$95,000

Last year, the teenage swimming phenom won four medals at the 2023 World Aquatic Championships and set world records in both the 400-metre freestyle and the 200-metre butterfly. This year, she beat her own time in the 400 at the trials for this summer’s Olympics. She may net a mere five figures for her epic efforts in the pool, but she brings in a lot more from sponsors like Tag Heuer and Lululemon.


Masai Ujiri

President, Raptors

$15,000,000

After surviving a publicized spat with head boss Edward Rogers, Ujiri clinched a $15-million-per-year compensation deal with MLSE in 2021. Despite his team having one of the worst skids on record, he appears to have the faith of both his coach and his bosses—for now.

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Scottie Barnes
Scottie Barnes

Raptor

$13,827,775

It’s been a rough season for the Raptors and especially for star forward Barnes, who fractured his left hand against the rim in March. His $13-million payout should offer some consolation, though it’s just over a third of what teammate R. J. Barrett earned this season (more than $35 million). It’s still a lot more than the earnings of Jontay Porter, who was banned for life in April after leaking intel to sports bettors. Porter’s total winnings secured him around $30,000, a decent supplement to his $560,000 annual salary—but far from the $2.7-­million contract he was set up for next season. Not exactly a winning bet.


Bianca Andreescu
Bianca Andreescu

Tennis player

$951,289

After an ankle injury in the Miami Open last March, the tennis star was back on her feet two months later in Paris, where she reached the mixed doubles final and made it to the third round in the singles. In June, she had her best Wimbledon showing yet, reaching the third round. A championship ultimately eluded her in 2023, but the 24-year-old—who has been sponsored by Nike, Head, Cadillac and Sleep Country—raked in nearly $1 million in prize money across 16 tournaments.

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Who Earns What: The stories behind Toronto’s top salaries

Lorenzo Insigne

Toronto FC player

$10,200,000

Toronto’s footy team spent a lot of money trying to shine in 2023: its star forward got paid more than $10 million and will again this year. His four-year contract makes him the second-highest-paid player in Major League Soccer—after Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi, who takes home just over $28 million. Last fall, rumours swirled that Insigne could be tempted back home to Italy, but clearly no one could match Toronto’s offer. Despite a hamstring injury in March, he’s up and running, wearing red for another year.


Davis Schneider
Davis Schneider

Blue Jay

$1,019,000

Blasting into his MLB career with a home run against the Red Sox, the third baseman has quickly become a fan favourite—and is delivering exceptional value at a rookie price.

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Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Blue Jay

$27,223,000

The Jays offered to pony up $24.7 million for Vladdy in the 2024 season—an almost $5-million increase from last year. But the 25-year-old all-star first baseman bristled at the amount and brought the club to arbitration—securing himself an additional $2.5 million in the process.


Kevin Gausman

Blue Jay

$32,897,000

Gausman delivered 127 strikeouts with his splitter last season. The star pitcher’s overall total—he led the American League in strikeouts with an impressive 237—helped him finish third for the prestigious AL Cy Young Award. Gausman’s cash-out for 2024 comes to nearly $33 million.


Media

Catherine Tait
Catherine Tait

CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada

~$521,000

It’s been a no good, very bad year for the country’s national broadcaster and its top boss. Last December, Tait was grilled on The National by Adrienne Arsenault for the CBC’s decision to slash 10 per cent of its workforce—some 600 people—and cut $40 million from its English and French programming. The news anchor asked if the executive team would feel the pinch in the form of lost bonuses (which could be as much as $145,880 for the CEO herself). Tait—whose base salary tops out at $521,000—wouldn’t say, but when she was called to testify on the matter before the House of Commons in January, she insisted there were no “bonuses,” just “incentive pay” and “performance pay,” and declined to say if she would reject a top-up herself.

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Who Earns What: The stories behind Toronto’s top salaries

Mirko Bibic

CEO of BCE Inc.

$13,433,766

When Bibic took the helm of Bell Media’s parent company in 2020, he was hailed as a different kind of CEO: an everyman from a working-class family who liked to take impromptu group photos with his employees and lived part-time in a Toronto condo. Four years on, following mass layoffs (4,800 employees across Canada), the sale of 45 of the company’s 103 regional radio stations and a $13-million payday for Bibic, the tone is far less laudatory: BC premier David Eby labelled him and his ilk “corporate vampires,” and Justin Trudeau called his decisions “garbage.”


Andrew MacLeod

President and CEO of Postmedia

$1,631,907

As the leader of Postmedia, MacLeod oversees the country’s largest publisher of news media and the owner of the National Post and the Toronto Sun. The company posted a $20.1-million loss in its latest quarter—and MacLeod saw his salary plummet to $1.6 million. (He was paid just shy of $3.5 million in 2021.) He responded optimistically, saying he’s focused on turning the business around and developing a sustainable news model.

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The City

Mayor Olivia Chow
Olivia Chow

Mayor

$225,304

She may lead the largest city in the province, but Chow doesn’t take home the most cash among Ontario mayors—that honour goes to Markham’s mayor, Frank Scarpitti, who banked $278,000 in 2023. For $50,000 less, Chow has been tasked with digging the city out of a $1.8-billion budget hole while negotiating with an unruly council, two other levels of government and incensed taxpayers. And she’s not even the highest-paid person at city hall: more than 80 bureaucrats take home bigger cheques. Still, her income is $22,000 higher than what John Tory made, plus she’s getting a raise in 2024 (against her objections) to account for inflation. As a former MP, she also collects a pension, estimated to be roughly $38,000 annually, for her eight years of federal service.


Ausma Malik

Deputy mayor

$155,223

Formerly a TDSB trustee for Trinity-Spadina, Malik got a big leg up when Mayor Chow appointed the first-time councillor deputy mayor. As such, Malik gets the second most important spot on the city’s executive committee and becomes the de facto mayor if Chow is incapacitated. None of this, however, comes with any extra cash: her compensation, $128,000 in salary and nearly $27,000 in benefits, is on par with those of her fellow councillors.

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Shelley Carroll

Budget chair

$160,175

Toronto’s budget chief has always had a way with numbers: between 2006 and 2010, after being tapped by then-mayor David Miller to sort out the city’s finances, she delivered four balanced budgets. It’s no surprise that Olivia Chow asked her to untangle the current fiscal mess, for which she’s paid the standard council salary of $128,000, plus $31,000 in benefits and a $520 stipend for serving on the board of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. For this grandmother helping to support children, grandchildren and an aging father, it still isn’t enough. “I’m not going to be middle class for very much longer,” she told Toronto Life last September. “I’m on the Sunshine List—Why am I feeling the pinch?”


George Zegarac

President and CEO of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation

$485,389

Zegarac currently makes twice the salary of Olivia Chow. Still, he’s doing big things: in his previous post as deputy minister of infrastructure, he helped negotiate the deal that gave us the new Port Lands, and now he gets to maximize the waterfront’s potential.


Rick Leary
Rick Leary

CEO of the TTC

$562,326

As Toronto’s highest-paid public servant, Leary had a position worth holding on to—but not everyone wanted him to. Rumblings of discontent with his management style reached a fever pitch last October, when it was reported that the TTC board had met to discuss ­allegations of workplace misconduct. An investigation was launched, and TTC chair Jamaal Myers apparently tried and failed to have Leary suspended for its duration. Nothing has been proven yet. On June 20, Leary announced his resignation and said he would be leaving at the end of August.

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Myron Demkiw
Myron Demkiw

Chief of the Toronto Police Service

$353,412

At $1.2 billion, the TPS is the largest item in the city’s budget, and after an aggressive campaign by Demkiw, it just went up by $20 million. The fact that more than 5,000 members of the force are on the Sunshine List helps explain the department’s hefty price tag.


Stacy Clarke

Superintendent at the Toronto Police Service

$201,914

In May, Clarke pleaded guilty to seven counts of professional misconduct, for helping six Black police officers cheat in interviews that would have led to key promotions. Taking the stand, she apologized and explained that her actions were to counteract the systemic racism she says unfairly holds back Black officers. While a sentence is pending, prosecutors have asked for her to be demoted two ranks to staff sergeant, with the possibility of reapplying to be superintendent after two years. If she falls that far, her annual salary will drop to just under $165,000.

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The Province

Premier Doug Ford
Doug Ford

Premier

$208,974

The premier’s salary has remained the same since the days of Dalton McGuinty, circa 2009. However, the number of staffers employed around Ford has nearly doubled since 2019, with 48 people pulling in a total of $7 million per year. Ford’s own chief of staff, Patrick Sackville, earned more than $324,000.


Bonnie Crombie

Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party

$185,000

Crombie’s switcheroo last year from long-time Mississauga mayor to Ontario Liberal Party leader came at a cost of nearly $100,000. She gave up the $280,000 she collected as mayor, councillor for Peel Region and board member with utility Alectra Inc. to make roughly $185,000, a salary paid out of Liberal coffers. This arrangement provided ammo to the current premier, who lambasted a $1-million party fundraising drive as an effort to pay Crombie’s wages.

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Marit Stiles

Leader of the Opposition, Ontario

$174,950

Stiles got a 50 per cent raise when she replaced Andrea Horwath as head of the Ontario NDP in late 2022. In 2023, her persistence resulted in groundbreaking reports on dubious land swaps in the Greenbelt, a scandal that took down two cabinet ministers, jettisoned several government staffers and secured an apology from the premier. Yet, on the home front, Stiles watched her party lose one MPP to the Greens, booted another for workplace misconduct and faced calls to resign after expelling Sarah Jama for comments on the Israeli occupation.


Stephen Lecce

Minister of energy and electrification

$165,851

Until a major cabinet shuffle in June, Lecce handled Ontario’s education portfolio—which included a high-­profile battle over wages. After three years of salary caps, the teachers’ union negotiated a bump of more than 11 per cent over four years. Lecce, meanwhile, has earned the same wage since 2020.


Who Earns What: The stories behind Toronto’s top salaries
Kenneth Hartwick

President and CEO of Ontario Power Generation

$1,925,372

The province’s highest public-sector salary goes to Hartwick. His portfolio at OPG includes spearheading the multibillion-­dollar overhaul of the Darlington nuclear power plant as well as the development of the country’s first small modular nuclear reactor. Hartwick also chairs the board of MYR Group, a hydro tower construction firm, for which he earned another $290,000 last year.

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Phil Verster, CEO of Metrolinx
Phil Verster

President and CEO of Metrolinx

$838,097

For his sixth year at the head of the company in charge of the perpetually delayed Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Verster pulled in nearly $840,000—a $19,000 downgrade from 2022.


Mark Fuller

President and CEO of Ontario Pension Board

$826,539

Fuller has steered the Ontario Pension Board for more than 15 years, making him responsible for $31 billion in assets for more than 85,000 people. He also serves on the boards of Empire Life Insurance Company, which earned him $101,000 last year, and Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corporation, for which he took home another $110,000.

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Ryan Amato

Former chief of staff, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

$156,769

A long-time Conservative staffer and the man at the centre of the Greenbelt ­scandal, Amato was housing minister Steve Clark’s chief of staff when the Ford government eyed the protected lands for development. Telling his boss, “Leave it to me,” Amato engaged in what Ontario’s integrity commissioner called a “chaotic and almost reckless” process of distributing building rights to developers. His actions cost him and Clark their jobs—until Clark was made Government House Leader in the June cabinet shuffle.


Matthew Anderson

CEO of Ontario Health

$821,000

Known to wake up at 4 a.m. on an average workday, Anderson is tasked with connecting, coordinating and modernizing Ontario’s health system—which seem like lofty goals given the state of things. His salary dropped by $800 in 2023.


Who Earns What: The stories behind Toronto’s top salaries

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Culture

Stephan Jost
Stephan Jost

CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario

$404,004

In March, more than 400 AGO workers went on strike after rejecting a deal that would give them a 3.25 per cent pay raise and retroactive payments for two-plus years of frozen wages. In addition to better pay, the strikers demanded that the museum rely less on contract work (more than 30 per cent of staff—all part-time or occasional workers—make less than $40,000 a year). The AGO has been running a $3.9-million budget deficit but continues to spend money: supported by $60 million from private and government donors, it’s planning a $100-million expansion—with naming rights secured by donor Dani Reiss of Canada Goose.


Julian Cox

Deputy director and chief curator of the AGO

$311,837

Former chief curator for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Cox has been with the AGO since 2018, planning and developing its exhibitions and collections. His salary has steadily crept up from $262,000, though 2023 brought only a modest one per cent bump.

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Josh Basseches

CEO of the Royal Ontario Museum

$533,122

Since his 2016 appointment, Basseches has been set on expanding the ROM’s exhibition spaces. This year, the museum announced yet another renovation: a $130-million retrofit to open its innards to the public and add some 6,000 square feet of gallery space to a building that never stops changing.


Celia Smith

CEO of Luminato

$241,500

Smith’s past year is a parable of the size and precarity of the Toronto arts scene: she had to move her 25 full-time staffers out of the Youngplace community hub, a building operated by collapsing non-profit Artscape—which she herself used to lead. Her new HQ? Yet another Toronto institution, the TIFF Lightbox, making use of their excess space.


Who Earns What: The stories behind Toronto's top salaries
Cameron Bailey

CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival

$350,000+

After the actors’ and writers’ strikes of 2023, TIFF’s bad year got worse when core sponsor Bell pulled out. A $23-­million cash infusion from the federal government should help staunch the bleeding, and with it Bailey hopes to turn the fest into the continent’s premier movie marketplace. It’s unclear how much he’s making for his efforts: TIFF is tight-lipped about its finances. However, according to 2021 CRA records analyzed by watchdog Charity Intelligence, there are two people earning more than $350,000 at the organization—Bailey’s got to be one of them.

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Who Earns What: The stories behind Toronto's top salaries
Drake

Rapper

$68,000,000+

How much does Drizzy make? Everyone wants to know, but he isn’t telling: a recipe for rampant speculation. Some have interpreted a line in “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” —“360 up front, it all comes full circle”—as meaning his 2022 contract with Universal Music Group is worth $360 million US (roughly $494 million at home). Sources for Variety put the deal at $548 million, with the star pulling in some $68 million per year. His It’s All a Blur tour has since grossed $193 million, and his album For All the Dogs sold more than 3.3 million copies—which would equal $31.4 million. His public feud with Kendrick Lamar earned him more streams with each salvo of diss tracks. And then there’s his clothing brand, OVO, which has been known to bring in close to $70 million in annual revenue; a deal with Nike; and a luxury candle company. This year he’ll also be an ambassador for the cryptocurrency platform and F1 racing sponsor Stake, and Cash App and Visa have signed on as sponsors for his 2024 US tour. In short, Champagne Papi is certified diversified. The big question, however, is how much of this cash is Drake’s and how much belongs to UMG—which is between him, the big boss and a bunch of lawyers.


Education

Who Earns What: The stories behind Toronto's top salaries
Colleen Russell-Rawlins

Director of education of the Toronto District School Board

$306,990

Russell-Rawlins, a long-time educator who has held the top job at Ontario’s largest school board since the summer of 2021, recently announced that she will be retiring in November. For what we now know was her penultimate year, she received a 2.5 per cent raise and earned $18,804 in benefits on top of her salary.

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Who Earns What: The stories behind Toronto’s top salaries

Brendan Browne

Director of education of the Toronto Catholic District School Board

$283,698

Now almost four years into his role as head of the world’s largest publicly funded Catholic school board, Browne received a 3.8 per cent raise last year.


Rhonda L. Lenton

President of York University

$472,482

In September of last year, union members representing the university’s staff marched across campus to demand better pay. Unlike several people on this list, however, Lenton also took a hit in 2023: she made 14 per cent less last year than in 2022—though the financial blow was somewhat softened by a bump in her benefits, which totalled more than $17,500.

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Who Earns What: The stories behind Toronto's top salaries
Meric Gertler

President of the University of Toronto

$486,192

Gertler, a long-time U of T staffer, is in his 16th year at the university and his 11th year as its president. He received an 11 per cent raise in 2023, after making the same amount for four years running, and earned an additional $104,423 in benefits. A man of many callings, Gertler juggles several other gigs, including being a professor of geography and planning, a director at MaRS Discovery District, and a trustee of SickKids.


Mohamed Lachemi

President of Toronto Metropolitan University

$444,475

Last year, the TMU president got a 4.1 per cent raise plus more than $25,000 in benefits and a shiny new award: the Order of Ontario. It was granted for his work in developing new law and medical schools at the university, his leadership over the pandemic, and his commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

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