REGINA – Emotions were running high at city council Monday evening.
More than a hundred former and current civic employees piled into council chambers in order to “put pressure on the city” to come to an agreement.
Pension negotiations between the city and unions have been ongoing.
However on July 17, Saskatchewan’s Deputy Superintendent of Pensions of the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA) said it was considering cancelling the civic pension plan if the groups involved fail to come to an agreement by the end of the year.
The chair of Regina’s Civic Pension Plan Committee, Kirby Benning, made a presentation to council Monday, but he wasn’t able to address the negotiation process because it wasn’t part of the agenda.
However, when no councillors asked Benning questions, dozens in attendance left the room muttering things like “shameful” and “honour our deal”.
“Unfortunately council hasn’t impressed me lately, so I had not a very high expectation,” said Benning, outside of council chambers.
Mayor Michael Fougere said the city asked to meet with employer groups three times in June but no meeting transpired.
“Come back to the table and talk to us. Coming to council and saying ‘why aren’t you talking’… let’s get down to the real issue here,” said Fougere. “People who are on fixed pensions and want to know what’s happening and who want to preserve them.”
Following the dramatic exit, some retirees spoke out saying they’re concerned about their future.
“I gave 34 years to the City of Regina Fire Department,” said Larry Richter. “I didn’t back away from a house fire when I was three-quarters done. I didn’t stop cutting somebody out of a car when I was three-quarters done. But with the pension, they’re willing to let it go.”
“I’m upset, yes. Especially for the employees. They’ve retired 30 years ago, and many of them are widowers,” said Peter Philip, a former city employee.
The civic pension plan impacts some 4,000 employees and 3,000 retirees.
The employers represented include the City of Regina, the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant, Regina Board of Education, Regina Public Library, and the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region.