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Bill 9 would be 'crippling' for Alberta labour, says Nenshi

The Mayor of Calgary is urging the premier to put a stop to a bill that amends the public sector's pension plans until after a thorough consultation with municipalities and unions.

Draft bill would amend public sector pensions but Nenshi says employees would quit sector

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in a letter to Premier Dave Hancock that proposed changes to the province's public sector pension plan would be 'crippling' for the labour force. (CBC)

The Mayor of Calgary is urging the premier to put a stop to a bill that amends the public sector's pension plans until after a thorough consultation with municipalities and unions.

In a letter to Premier Dave Hancock on behalf of Calgary's city council, Mayor Naheed Nenshi says Bill 9 would cripple the city's labour force, operations and finances, and asked for the bill to be tabled for the time being.

"Enacting Bill 9 in its present form will adversely affect the administration, finances and the labour force of the City as well as the ability of the City to provide effective services to all its citizens," said Nenshi. "Calgary city council requests that you table Bill 9 and engage in a more substantive, constructive consultation process with the City and other stakeholders prior to proceeding with the proposed reforms."

In February, the province announced the proposed reforms and public servants quickly rallied against the changes across the province.

Among the big issues in the bill is the push to raise the age at which a public service pension plan member could retire on a full pension.

Currently, staffers aged 55 or older with at least 30 years of service can leave with full benefits.

The bill would change that to age 60 with 30 years of service for people who begin working for the government in 2016.

The changes would take effect Jan. 1, 2016 and would not affect current retirees but the union says such a change would cause people to leave the public service.

That concern is one of the seven highlighted by Nenshi in his letter to the premier.

"The reform will create a dangerous incentive for our workforce to either take early retirement before 2016 or enter into the private sector," he said. "It will complicate our labour relations, increase our costs as a city, create risk and uncertainty and will not help our retirees."

Despite the perceived problems with the bill, Nenshi said he and the council are not saying no to any pension reform but rather want to see the government re-evaluate how it goes about changing the plans.

I must be clear that we are not opposed to public sector pension reforms. However, Bill 9 needs considerable work."

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