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The next time you hear someone complaining about pay increases, benefits and pensions for public sector workers, you might want to put it in perspective by looking at what Canada’s top executives took home.

According to the Globe and Mail’s recently released compensation details for Canadian CEOs, some executives did quite well despite the recent economic downturn.  Canada’s highest-paid CEOs earned between $11.1 and $16.5 million. The top three CEOs who reaped over $16 million are from Niko Resources and two from from Magna International. CEOs from three Canadian banks (Bank of Nova Scotia, Royal Bank of Canada, and Toronto Dominion) also made the ‘top ten’ list.

Pension benefits “soared in 2010 as interest rates fell”, says the Globe and Mail. Number one for pension benefits is Jim Shaw of Shaw Communications whose pension is sitting at over $71 million. The median for the Globe’s “top ten” pension list is over $21 million. 

In terms of bonuses, Magna International topped the list with a whopping $9.8 million paid to Donald Walker and $9.5 million paid to Siegfried Wolf in 2010. The Globe and Mail reports that the average bonus amassed by Canadian CEOs was $1.6 million, up 21 per cent from last year.

And the list didn’t include Magna chair Frank Stronach, who collected a colossal $61.8 million Cdn in total compensation last year. That’s the second-largest payout he received. In 2007 Stronach was handed $70.6 million in compensation. His daughter, Belinda Stronach picked up over $20 million during her year on the Board.

Yet when it comes to the rest of us, Frank Stronach calls for government to take a hard line, to cut services and programs.

There might have to be a fair amount of suffering,” Stronach told BNN’s show SqueezePlay.

We have to reduce government spending…nothing against the bureaucrats. As companies have to be efficient, so does government.”

So the next time you hear CEOs preaching fiscal austerity, remember that there’s a double standard and “different strokes for different folks” seems to be okay with those at the top.