The New Brunswick legislature could soon be working on a fix for Saint John's troubled pension fund.
Saint John council has already approved a package of pension reforms to deal with the fund's $193-million deficit, which include temporarily de-indexing pensions from inflation, and increasing employee contributions.
But unlike most city pension plans, Saint John's is officially governed by a provincial law, so it has to be changed by the legislature as well.
"They know the process," said Justice Minister Marie-Claude Blais. "They've talked about this process for what is it now, months? They're aware it has to be done when the session is in."
The city has given official notice that its bill is ready and expects the bill to pass by the second week of June.
But the legislature will likely adjourn around mid-June so time is running out.
Won't be rushed
Despite the urgency, Liberal MLA Chris Collins won't commit his party to speeding the bill through the legislature.
"We have to sit down and analyze all the proposals of the city of Saint John so we can better understand it, then we have to talk about it as a caucus," he said.
A timeline provided by Saint John City Hall says it expects the bill will be introduced on June 1, then clear a committee review and be passed into law by June 8, before the legislature adjourns.
The last minute revisions, approved by council on Monday night, include another $35 million in cuts to employee benefits.
Under the plan, city workers will lose more than $100 million in pension benefits and city taxpayers will invest an additional $10 million a year to pay down the rest of the pension deficit.
The reforms should put the city on pace to eliminate its $193-million pension deficit in 14 years.
Council had previously agreed to suspend cost-of-living increases for current and future retirees, a $75-million savings.
But additional cuts were needed because the plan’s investments are expected to make less money, officials have said.
Council has already cut millions from the 2012 city budget as it wrestles with the deficit.
The city had originally planned to have changes in front of the legislative assembly in December but missed a series of deadlines.
The city politicians then requested the legislature hold a special session in January so they could approve the pension reforms, but that request was rejected.