REGINA – In an unprecedented move, the Deputy Superintendent of Pensions of the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA) of Saskatchewan is considering cancelling the city of Regina’s pension plan registration.
The city’s pension plan, impacting some 4,000 employees and 3,000 retirees, is unsustainable in its current form.
A 2012 report, pegs the plan’s deficit at nearly $300-million. It’s also the only plan the FCAA considers not compliant with Saskatchewan’s Pension Benefit Act.
“Other plans are struggling, but are meeting their regulatory requirements,” said David Wild, chair and CEO of the FCAA.
Three years ago, city council refused to increase pension contribution rates, which was a requirement from the FCAA. Instead, council asked employees and the city to work on a new and more sustainable plan.
“We were always very hopeful that negotiations were going to bring a solution. We’ve run out of patience and hope,” said Wild.
After three years of non-compliance, the FCAA sent a letter on Thursday stating it was considering canceling the city’s pension plan registration.
Despite the regulator losing hope, the city remains optimistic: “If we were at all surprised by the letter yesterday it would be because negotiations are continuing with the employee group,” said Glen Davies, Regina city manager. “We believe there are options on the table that will keep us from that eventuality.”
Employee groups, on the other hand, sound less convinced.
“We haven’t seen anything from the city that is encouraging for us to meet with them again,” said Kirby Benning, chair of Regina’s civic pension plan committee. “They’re trying to back away from the honest and fair negotiations that we had in the past.”
The two sides did come to a much publicized agreement last June, but that plan never came to fruition.
Regina’s civic pension plan covers 21 employee groups, including city workers, non-teaching school workers, health region employees and library staff.
The FCAA is asking for feedback in writing by November 30 and the Deputy Superintendent of Pensions will make a decision in the new year.