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The Globe obtained records from 130 corporations in eight provinces; publicly owned companies are likely to most closely mirror the private sector

They’re structured and operated like private businesses but are part of the public sector. Government owned companies, some of which are called Crown corporations, manage your regional transit, investigate fraud, sell alcohol and cannabis, and handle billion-dollar pension funds. These are power, water and telecommunications companies. They run the lottery, help entrepreneurs, promote tourism, and manage housing.

Of all the entities in the dataset, publicly owned companies are likely to most closely mirror the private sector. The Globe obtained records from 130 of these corporations in eight provinces. (Of those, 49 were from Quebec, where public entities are only required to disclose information for the most senior staff. As a result, these companies were excluded from the wider salary analysis, but they could be included in the gender breakdown of the “power positions.”)

Unlike other provinces, Alberta lumps its corporations in with other types of arm’s-length entities under the heading “public agencies.” The Globe identified entities to include in this analysis by going through each public agency and pulling out organizations that were structured like Crown corporations (for example, there was a CEO and vice-presidents) or that had direct comparators in other provinces (for example, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission has counterparts in multiple other jurisdictions.)

In Ontario’s disclosure, the government has classified a handful of entities as Crown corporations, even though they are not structured as such. They are tribunals, boards and commissions. These organizations are included in this dataset, but could not be analyzed in the section that breaks out executive leadership because the leadership structure was not comparable to other entities.

Only high-income earners are included in public sector salary disclosures. In most cases, it applies to employees who earn $100,000 or more. In provinces with a lower threshold, The Globe removed the employees who did not meet that six-figure bar. Alberta is the only province that sets a higher threshold. In 2017, that number was $127,765. The Globe’s data comes from the 2017 or 2017/2018, depending on how the organization handles its fiscal year. (Read more about our methodology.)

The Power Gap

In general, publicly owned corporations had the worst gender divide of all the pillars, both in terms of representation and average salaries. This was true overall and among senior-level positions. (When calculating the gender divide among “power positions,” the Globe included the president in the overall representation number, but not the average salary.)

Male illustration

Overall gender representation

vs. 24%

Overall average salary

vs. $136,304

Overall gender representation
in "power position" decision-making roles

vs. 38%

Overall average salary
in "power position" decision-making roles

vs. $228,629
Female illustration

Breaking down the Power Gap

To better understand where women are in the workplace, the Globe assessed each entity’s gender representation at individual salary levels. Large entities — those with 100 or more six-figure earners — were examined with 10 bands. Smaller ones with five. Overall, women were significantly underrepresented at every salary band and especially in the highest ones.

Gender representation legend

The top 1 percentile

For each public corporation, the Globe analyzed the top 1 percentile of earners. On average, women were outnumbered nearly four to one at this level. Of the 69 women in this category where the Globe could determine race, 5 are women of colour.

Digging deeper

Below, you can explore the gender breakdown at individual companies and filter the results by province. Smaller companies, as well as entities connected to health and education, had the most even gender distribution. Women also did well in securities commissions, legal aid and at the tribunals.

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The Power Gap on leadership teams

Using common job title keywords – such as president, chief executive officer, and vice-president, as well as présidente, vice présidente, and directrice – and publicly-available organizational charts and executive team biographies, the Globe identified employees that held key decision-making roles at each company. These are the executive “power positions.” (A reminder that Quebec’s disclosure included data for senior positions, so those entities could be included in this section.) The gender divide among leadership at these corporations was 38 per cent, and about a third of the company’s were run by women.

Female representation in positions of power by entity

Below you can explore the gender breakdown among power positions at government owned corporations.

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With reporting and research from Andrew Saikali, Stephanie Chambers, Tavia Grant, Denise Balkissoon and Tu Thanh Ha.


  • Story editing: Dawn Calleja
  • Design and art direction: Ming Wong
  • Web design and development: Christopher Manza
  • Illustration and graphics: Murat Yükselir
  • Photo editing: Theresa Suzuki
  • Data science consulting and verification: Lola Abduvaitova
  • Data science consulting: Shengqing Wu
  • Data verification: Tom Cardoso
  • Michael Pereira also contributed to the project

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