Canada’s pandemic pickpockets

While Canadians were devastated during COVID-19, profitable corporations took government handouts. That money was supposed to help workers. Instead, it lined the pockets of many rich corporations.

The facts.

We looked at dozens of Canada's biggest corporations to see if they took public aid through Canada's Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

Through annual reports, financial documents and disclosures to lobbying registries, we came to some alarming findings. Most of these massive corporations are not only taking wage subsidies, but doing so when profitable enough to pay out millions in dividends to rich CEO shareholders.


$2.8 billion in CEWS

IN 2020


$12.5 billion in profits

IN 2020


$15.2 billion paid out

IN 2020

The Worst Culprits

Greed. That's the only way to describe accepting government aid meant for workers, and using it to payout dividends and profits to shareholders. Here are some of the most egregious examples of companies that abused the wage subsidy program. 

Bell Canada Enterprises Inc.

Claimed over $120 million in CEWS
Despite making $2.6 billion in profits
Paid out nearly $3 billion in dividends
Laid off hundreds of media workers

Extendicare Ltd.

Made $54 million in profits, nearly double last year
Still took $91 million in CEWS
Paid out over $41 million in dividends
Cited for violating multiple COVID-19 health and safety directives

Quebecor Inc.

Took $49.6 million in CEWS
Despite making over $600 million in profits
Paid out over $200 million in dividends
Including an estimated $14 million dividends to the CEO

Linamar Corporation

Doubled their dividend in the 3rd quarter
While taking $108 million in CEWS
Made $279 million in profits
Paying over $23 million in dividends through the year

Aecon Group Inc.

Took $107 million in CEWS
While making $88 million in profits
Paid out $37.5 million in dividends
Among a handful of corporations who were profitable but still took over $100 million in CEWS

Take Action Today

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Disclaimer: We're by no means professional journalists, economists, or accountants. If you find any errors or miscalculations in our data, please let us know so we can correct immediately. You can contact us directly at