Air Canada executives and management were paid $10 million in bonuses along with share purchase options at a time when the company was negotiating a COVID-19 bailout package with the federal government.
According to CTV News, executives were awarded the “COVID-19 Pandemic Mitigation Bonus” for their “exceptional performance during this unprecedented period.”
The deal reached with Liberal government was called the “liquidity program” and it included $4 billion worth of loans from taxpayers.
Additionally, the airline company received a $500 million investment from the government and an additional $1.4 billion loan for customer refunds.
“This support comes with strict conditions to protect Canadian travellers, Canadians’ tax dollars and Air Canada’s workers,” said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland when the bailout was first announced.
Early on in the pandemic, Air Canada’s CEO and CFO agreed to forgo their salaries to weather the pandemic.
“Despite this historically difficult year for Air Canada’s finances, our leaders helped the company and its shareholders weather the storm and keep the business in strong financial position while maintaining respect for our brand and what it represents for Canadians and global travelers. We believe we must retain and motivate our senior leaders to help Air Canada recover as quickly as possible, and you will see some compensation decisions to support those goals,” claimed a company document.
As of last March, Air Canada has shed at least half of its work force and is operating at a loss of $3.8 billion.
In response to the revelations, Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole claimed that while his party does favour support for the tourism and travel industry, he believes that funding should go directly to the frontline workers.