January 13, 2015

Referendum: Reasons for No – Executive Pay

The TransLink CEO is overpaid.

Ian Jarvis, CEO of TransLink, received $83,700 in bonuses in 2013, making his total compensation for the year $468,015, a rise of almost seven per cent over 2012, according to salary disclosure documents released by the transit organization late Friday.

CBC, September 2, 2014


Should Jarvis be dismissed and a new CEO hired at a lower salary?  But what would it be?  How about a comparison with other Canadian CEOs:

The country’s 100 highest remunerated chief executives pulled down an average of $9.2 million in 2013, about 25 per cent more than the $7.35 million they amassed in 2008, said an analysis released Thursday by the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Vancouver Sun, January 2, 2015


So the assumption seems to be that a $1.4 billion corporation serving 2.3 million people, made up of many operating entities, with responsibility for all aspects of transportation in Canada’s third largest city with twice the service area of Toronto, should be run by an executive who can make many times more in the private sector.

In fact, that’s the case today.  But the criticism seems to be that it’s still too much – and the solution, then, is to pay him or her even less, not to mention every other employee.

How could that not work?

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  1. Clearly we should look no further than the private sector for our cues on executive pay and customer service. I head that Bell and Rogers have perfect customer satisfaction and modest executive salaries compared to Evil Translink.

    1. Guy Laurence, CEO of Rogers, and George Cope, CEO of Bell, made nearly $13 million and $11 million respectively in 2013 including options, and stock grants. Hardly modest.

  2. Here’s an excerpt from my recent BIV column on this. Note the last sentence: the job is so impossible that the last two CEOs have bailed, in spite of the pay:

    “Look at the CEO’s outrageous salary, shout anti-TransLink critics. It’s $468,000, up 7% in 2013 (they don’t mention it will go down this year). They point out that it’s more than transit CEOs in Seattle, Portland, Toronto or Montreal, but they rarely mention that it’s less than CEO salaries at the Vancouver Airport Authority (which has 1/13th the number of passengers), BC Hydro, BC Ferries, and just over half of Port Metro Vancouver’s CEO’s $857,000 pay.

    The vein-bulging outrage at TransLink’s CEO’s pay overlooks three key points. First executive salaries weren’t mentioned as an issue in the latest independent audit of TransLink. Secondly, TransLink is almost alone in North America—and the envy of regions around the world—for the range of its responsibilities, which include financing, planning, operating and maintaining roads, bridges, buses, trains, light rail and cycling infrastructure. That makes comparisons difficult.

    But most important, TransLink is a political eunuch, with no one person responsible for defending it from the cloud of accusations coming at it from the provincial government, the public, the mayors’ council, anti-tax zealots and its customers because of the unaccountable governance structure forced on it by the provincial government. No amount of money could hang onto the last two CEOs because of this. “

    1. “the job is so impossible that the last two CEOs have bailed, in spite of the pay”

      Resigning of Translink to become CEO of MTA, the largest regional public transportation provider in the Western Hemisphere (source wikipedia) was because the job was too hard at Translink?

      1. Tom Prendergast left in 2009 to become president of MTA New York City Transit, which runs the subway and bus system in New York City. He took a pay cut. He wasn’t appointed CEO until June 2013.

  3. This is why I couldn’t tolerate working in the public sector. I’m no CEO, but it seems that any public servant making 6 figures is considered fair game for criticism that they’re overpaid. No matter what their qualifications, job demands, etc. And most importantly, with no regard for what their alternatives are, or what you would have to give up in order to get cheaper talent.

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