Canada's governor general received a $40,000 pay bump during the COVID pandemic, courtesy of the taxpayers who faced unprecedented economic hardship during that period.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) provided the National Post documents from the Privy Council Office showing the governor general's base salary increased 13% annually between 2019 and 2022, from $302,800 to $342,100.
According to a formula based on average wages in the workforce — as determined by the federal government via the Governor General's Act — the annual increases in 2021 and 2022 exceeded those given before the pandemic.
In 2018, the position paid $294,600. The salary increased 2.7% to $302,800 in 2019, followed by a 2.4% increase in 2020, bringing the wage to $310,100.
That followed a 5.9% raise in 2021 to $328,700 and another 4.7% increase to bring the governor general's salary to $342,100 in 2022.
From the onset of 2013, the job's base salary stood at $270,602.
Per the Act, the figure received mandatory increases of either 107% or "the percentage that the industrial aggregate for the first adjustment year is of the industrial aggregate for the second adjustment year," whichever is lesser.
CTF Federal Director, Franco Terrazzano, questioned the viability of legislated pay increases through government formulas over tangible metrics like performance, time in office, or inflation.
"Can the government prove that the Governor General is providing taxpayers with $40,000 in extra value?" asked Terrazzano. "The government continues to rubber stamp raises while Canadians are asking themselves if they can afford a package of ground beef."
However, the Privy Council Office confirmed they did not give a salary when the job sat vacant between Juliette Payette's resignation in January 2021, amid a workplace scandal, and July 2021, when the feds swore in Mary Simon as governor general.
The six-month vacancy reduced salary expenditures at Rideau Hall to $227,785 that year. The projected spending for the figurehead's salary the following year rose to $308,972.
According to the CTF, taxpayers provide the viceregal representative with a post-retirement pension of $150,000 annually and an annual $206,000 taxpayer-funded retirement expense account — to support public duties — that extends until six months after their death.
The taxpayers' group calculated the pensions for the five surviving persons who formerly served as viceregal representatives. If each person collects benefits until the age of 90, it represents a cost of $18.7 million to public coffers.
The National Post reported in 2018 that former governor general Adrienne Clarkson used substantially higher than allowed in her retirement expense account. Clarkson billed taxpayers over $1.1 million since leaving office in 2005 while receiving $1.6 million in pension.
Clarkson also sparked controversy in 2003 when a three-week tour of Russia, Finland and Iceland cost $5.3 million for herself and 59 others.
Ongoing Governor General Mary Simon spent $100,000 in inflight catering for her, her husband Whit Fraser, and other dignitaries travelling to Expo 2020 in Dubai last March. The costs for the trip totalled $1.15 million.