REGINA – In the latest move in the civic pension dispute, the city of Regina is submitting a proposed plan to the provincial regulator without input from the employee groups.
“It is the responsible thing to do,” said City Manager Glen Davies to reporters Wednesday afternoon.
The proposal comes following increased pressure from the Deputy Superintendent of Pensions of the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA), who in July announced a potential cancellation of the plan if a deal isn’t reached.
Despite the current veto power on both sides of the dispute, the city believes it’s found a way to impose its proposal.
“This was a plan that was created by city council bylaw and so ultimately it may boil down to council determining what amendments need to be made to the bylaw alterations,” said Davies. “A solution to the current circumstances may be imposed.”
The city’s proposal also includes a way to pay down the estimated $240 million deficit. The employers would take on 70 per cent while the employees would cough up the rest.
“Paying it off over 40 years is all well and good, but the money has to come from something else,” said Jason Childs, associate professor of economics at the University of Regina. “The city is taking on two fairly large infrastructure projects right now, with the stadium and the sewer treatment plant. They’re carrying a fair bit of debt.”
The city is also proposing new contribution rates of 10.5 per cent for the employee and 11.6 per cent for the employer, which is slightly different from the current even split.
Additionally, if the plan dips back into the red, the city is out with a list of steps to follow, including a one-time 0.5 per cent contribution rate increase for both sides and an elimination of the bridge benefit for retirees younger than 65.
“We are disappointed that the City is walking away from a deal we signed in good faith just over a year ago,” said Kirby Benning, chair of the pension and benefits committee, in a statement. “We are concerned that they are trying to keep the concessions we agreed to while stripping away the defined benefit nature of the plan – the core aspect that both sides agreed to protect in our original deal.”
The civic pension plan impacts 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.