Canada Infrastructure Bank spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on CEO exit

Author: James Wood 2020/12/15

Taxpayers were billed hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Canada Infrastructure Bank when its former CEO Pierre Lavallée left his role in April, according to records obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“The circumstances of Mr. Lavallée’s departure remain unclear, but it’s clear that his leaving cost taxpayers a pretty penny,” said Aaron Wudrick, the CTF’s Federal Director.

In October, CIB announced it paid over $3.8 million in termination costs over its 2019-20 budget year. While individual payment details were not released, the infrastructure bank’s rate of turnover shows 8.82 positions were vacated that year. That means the average cost for its terminated employees was $434,467.

The CIB refused to disclose Lavallée’s exit payment and repeatedly declined to say whether the former CEO resigned or was fired.

“Termination may be a sensitive issue, but taxpayer money is at stake and we have a right to know what our money is being spent on,” said Wudrick. “Average goodbye cheques of $400,000 are eyebrow-raising.”

Records obtained by the CTF show hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent by the CIB on legal fees and communications advice surrounding a leadership shakeup in early April.

During that shakeup, Lavallée left the bank, and the chair of the bank’s board announced her intentions to resign later in the month. 

In June, the CTF put in an access to information request to the CIB, asking for documents dealing with Lavallée’s exit that mention the following keywords: "resignation" "termination" "severance" “audit” and “review.”

The records returned by the request show the legal firm Torys LLP involved in discussions around Lavallée’s exit. 

Lavallée’s exit was announced Apr. 3, and additional records show Torys LLP invoicing the bank $172,626 for “professional services” on Apr. 13.

On top of the legal fees, the bank also paid Navigator LTD for “communications-related advice to support external legal advice provided to the Board of Directors and management of the CIB.”

Following Lavallée’s exit, Navigator produced a summary of the media coverage around the leadership shakeup.

Navigator received the $54,804 contract on Feb. 26.

The CTF reached out to the bank for comment about the chain of events.

It said it had no new information to report, and again refused to disclose Lavallée’s severance payment.

The CTF has filed multiple access to information requests to get more details on Lavallée’s exit.