August 14, 2014 7:11 pm

Taxpayers on the hook if civic pension plan dissolves

The city, and consequently the taxpayers, could be on the hook for about 40 per cent of the $240 million debt if the pension plan is cancelled.

Adrian Raaber/ Global News

REGINA – The two sides in the civic pension dispute are spinning two different stories.

Despite a warning from the provincial regulator last month that the pension plan could be cancelled, the city and its unions remain unwilling to budge.

“The LOI (letter of intent) in its current form is not a deal,” said Regina City Manager Glen Davies. “It is not something the superintendent would support.”

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“We have an agreement. The LOI is an agreement that would bring us in compliance with the act,” said Kirby Benning, chair of Regina’s civic pension plan committee.

The problem is that both sides can’t seem to agree on what changes need to be made to the LOI to bring it up to snuff for the provincial regulator.

The civic pension plan impacts about 7,000 current and former employees, including firefighters, bus drivers, some health care workers and library staff. However, Regina residents who are not directly involved should still pay attention.

“Most taxpayers in the private sector don’t even have workplace pensions, so it’s not fair to keep asking them to bail out the government employees’ pension plan,” said Colin Craig with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

If the plan is dissolved, the city is suggesting taxpayers would be on the hook: “Upon termination, the debt is due. So, we have a large payment that would be required with short term repayments,” said Davies.

Last week the mayor said the city, and consequently the taxpayers, could be on the hook for about 40 per cent of the $240 million debt if the plan is cancelled.

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