An upscale getaway to California is a nice way to splurge and get away from it all for most people. But for one wealthy day-tripper, fancy was taken to a new level.
Aly MacGregor, president of London-based PR firm Reicura, took her mother, who lives in Toronto, to a Napa Valley winery for the latter’s 50th birthday. The vineyard gave them a tour for the occasion, even though tours of the grounds aren’t offered to the general public. MacGregor, whose net worth is said to hover around $30 million, also had the winery provide by-request meals and a one-of-a-kind specialty tasting.
But this spending may seem quaint in comparison to the mega-home of Hugo Powell, former president of Labatt. Powell owns a $65 million, 47,000-square-foot home in Oakville, Ontario. The property includes a bowling alley, gym, sauna, dance floor, movie theatre, wine cellar, tennis court, and pool house, among other amenities.
That sort of extravagance may be a harbinger of spending to come for Canada’s business elite. These days, the country’s top earners are making more than ever.
According to the CBC, Canada’s top CEOs earn 209 times the average Canadian’s salary. It’s the first time the ratio has been more than 200:1. In just the first two days of 2018, the top 100 CEOs already made about $50,000 – around what the average Canadian makes in a year. The net worth of the top two richest people in Canada – David Thomson and Galen Weston Sr. – is more than 11 million Canadians combined.
And the wealth gap between the people at the top and those who work for them is continually widening.
Joseph Papa, CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, earns more than $83 million, according to Macleans, while Valeant workers earn an average of $71,000. Magna’s Donald Walker makes nearly $30 million, while his staff’s average pay is $66,000. And Canada Pacific’s Hunter Harrison, who brings home almost $19 million, pays his staff an average of $48,000.
Mayo Schmidt, CEO of Ontario utility Hydro One, earns some $4.5 million plus perks, more than any other utility CEO in Canada. Meanwhile, hydro costs in Ontario have more than doubled since 2006, and the brass is seeking another 5% more in fees in 2018.
Despite these high salaries, there are still many humble spenders among the country’s CEOs. Nearly three-quarters of millionaires in Canada have shopped at Walmart within the year. More than 80% of the wealthiest Canadians fly economy (but still manage to spend more than three times as much on vacations as the average Canuck). Kevin O’Leary, billionaire investor and panelist on TV’s Shark Tank, says he’d never spend $2.50 on a cup of coffee, preferring to make it at home for 18 cents.
All of this might go a long way towards explaining why it makes sense to save your cents. After all, the super-rich didn’t get that way by wasting their money.
Dave Gordon | Contributing Writer