Return of bonuses from Air Canada execs “rare” case of change in compensation: expert

From the Toronto Star – link to source story

By The Canadian Press | Mon., June 7, 2021

The tail of the newly revealed Air Canada Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft is seen at a hangar at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, February 9, 2017.  MARK BLINCH / THE CANADIAN PRESS

HALIFAX – An economist says the recent decision by Air Canada executives to voluntarily give back their bonuses is an incredibly rare case of an about-face on compensation from a company.

David Macdonald, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, says it’s unusual for public outcry to be successful in nudging C-Suite employees to return their bonuses.

The airline announced yesterday its president and CEO, as well as its executive vice-presidents, had volunteered to return their 2020 bonuses and share appreciation units after “public disappointment” grew over its compensation program.

It says former president and CEO Calin Rovinescu, who retired in February, will be donating the value of his 2020 bonus to the Air Canada Foundation.

Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland expressed their displeasure with the company’s bonus program last week after the airline disclosed millions in bonuses to people it called “instrumental” to the airline’s survival during the pandemic.

The federal government paid $500 million for a six-per-cent stake in Air Canada and also agreed to a $5.9 billion loan package for the airline in April.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2021.