Major fix needed for Regina pension deficit: councillor

A Regina city councillor says it'll take major changes to fix the city's deficit-ridden pension plan.
A report submitted to the city's Finance and Administration Committee on Tuesay shows how much the unfunded liability has grown over the past five years. (Civic Employees' Pension Plan )

A Regina city councillor says it'll take major changes to fix the city's deficit-ridden pension plan.

A city hall meeting Tuesday heard that the Regina Civic Employees' Superannuation and Benefit Plan now has a deficit of $293 million.

The plan, which covers about 6,700 city workers, non-teaching school workers, health region employees and library staff, saw its deficit grow by $84 million in 2011.

Coun. Wade Murray says he and his colleagues are not interested in raising taxes to fix the problem, but says something has to be done and soon.

"It is going to be something that will see a radical change in my opinion," Murray said. "There is no magic fix. There is no pile of money hidden some place. The employers don't have it the employees don't have it."

Murray says based on behind-the-scenes discussions, he believes this issue will be resolved by the end of the year.

"It's going to take some time and effort it's going to take some work," he said.

Meanwhile, the group representing employees says people should not panic about losing any of their pensions.

"That's the most important message employees should get is: Don't worry about what you've accrued," said Kirby Benning, chair of the Pension and Benefits Committee.

"We're going to be tweaking the benefits going forward and agreements going forward so we can have a plan that's sustainable into the future."

Employers and employees are getting close to a solution, Benning said.

"We're working hard and working fast as we can to get something done as soon as possible," Benning said.

The chair of the city employees benefit plan, Bob Linner, says something needs to be done now to deal with a massive unfunded liability.

If the "stalemate" between employees and employers continues, it could put future and possibly past benefit promises at risk, Linner said in the plan's annual report.

The pension report will go to the next meeting of city council.