Saskatoon councillors mull idea of part-time vs. full-time pay

Saskatoon councillors mull idea of part-time vs. full-time pay
WATCH: Saskatoon city councillors spend a lot of time in their role, even though it's a part-time position.

For a part-time role, being a Saskatoon city councillor can be a time-consuming job.

Troy Davies has spent the past eight years on city council, while also working full-time as a paramedic.

Davies estimates he spends between 25 and 30 hours a week conducting his councillor duties, from committee and council meetings to attending events and addressing citizen concerns.

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But despite the extra workload, Davies says he believes the city position should remain part-time.

“Right now, I couldn’t justify going back to the mill rate and charging residents more money to make this a full-time position”.

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The last time this issue emerged at City Hall was in 2016, when the citizen-led municipal review commission looked into the topic.

Commission chair Paul Jaspar says one of the top issues is how to address councillor pay if the job became a full-time position. Right now, councillors receive 46 per cent of the mayor’s salary.

“The commission would do a study and we would look at what other jurisdictions would do to pay full-time people… whereas the mayor currently gets paid based on a cabinet minister, maybe councillors would get paid based on an MLA’s salary”, Jaspar said.

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Saskatoon isn’t the only city that employs its councillors part-time. Regina councillors receive part-time pay, along with similarly sized cities in Ontario like Kitchener and Windsor.

Jaspar says the commission has until the end of 2022 to bring their latest findings on the topic, although the debate could be brought forward sooner if council requests.

Coun. Mairin Loewen, who has been treating her position as full-time, says she’d be reluctant to make a change without the commission’s input. She also notes the city recently funded two council assistants that take calls and forward concerns to councillors.

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“There are some communities that address the demands of the job by moving it to a full-time position, but there are others that address those demands by leaving the role part-time, but increasing administrative supports, for example.”