Federal bonuses total $1.3 billion since 2015

Author: Ryan Thorpe 2023/06/08

The federal government handed out $1.3 billion in bonuses from 2015 to 2022, according to documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation through an access-to-information request. 

Government executives took home an average annual bonus ranging from $15,550 to $18,252 during those years. 

“Bonuses are for when you do a good job, they shouldn’t be handed out like participation ribbons,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “Taxpayers can’t afford to bankroll big bonus cheques each and every year for highly paid government executives.” 

The government dished out $202 million in bonuses during the 2022-23 fiscal year alone. And that figure may rise even higher, with the government documents noting that “some payments may occur after the production of this report.” 

Of the $202 million paid out in 2022-23 so far, $152 million was given to 8,328 executive-level employees, while the remaining $50 million was earmarked for lower-level staff. 

The annual cost to taxpayers for federal bonuses has risen by 46 per cent since 2015, including the $564 million in bonuses dished out since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 90 per cent of government executives receive an annual bonus, despite a recent report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer finding that “less than 50 per cent of [performance] targets are consistently met” each year. 

The government of Canada also publishes its own data summarizing department performance results. From 2018-19 through 2021-22, the bureaucracy met less than half of its own targets each year. 

“The real question is what does a government executive have to do to miss a bonus?” Terrazzano said. “The feds need to stop rewarding failure with our tax dollars, and the place to start is with these bonuses.” 

The federal bureaucracy grew by 78,923 employees between 2015 and 2022. 

In addition to the bonuses, the federal government also doled out 802,043 pay raises from 2020 to 2022, according to documents obtained by the CTF through a separate access-to-information request. 




Executives who got a bonus

Average executive bonus

Total cost of bonuses




































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Franco Terrazzano
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