Province threatens to terminate City of Regina pension plan

The Saskatchewan government is trying to light a fire under efforts to fix the City of Regina's pension deficit problem.

Pension had a $293M deficit in 2012

The Regina Civic Employees' Pension Plan has a large deficit and provincial officials are concerned. (CBC)

The Saskatchewan government is trying to light a fire under efforts to fix the City of Regina's pension deficit problem.

On Friday, provincial regulators sent a letter to pension officials saying they're considering cancelling the registration of the Regina Civic Employees Superannuation and Benefit Plan.

This plan is the only plan that we have that's in a non-compliance position.- David Wild, Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority

The province's deputy superintendent of pensions noted the plan hasn't been meeting its minimum contribution for years. 

"Pension plans face some tough issues," David Wild, an official from the province's Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority, told CBC News Friday. "But this plan is the only plan that we have that's in a non-compliance position. Other plans are struggling but are meeting their regulatory requirements."

According to the superintendent's office, officials have been waiting for plan administrators to come up with a new funding arrangement, but that hasn't happened. If the plan is deregistered, it would be terminated.

The province is worried the Regina Civic Employees' Pension Plan, as currently configured, is not sustainable. However, before the authority makes any decision to terminate the plan, it wants the various groups affected — including current employees, the employers and current pensioners — to provide more input.

Regina city manager Glen Davies said Friday he takes the concerns raised by the province seriously. (CBC)

About 7,000 civic employees, non-teaching school workers, health region employees and library staff belong to the plan, which was $293 million in deficit in 2012.

Plan members and the city have been trying to come up with a formula to eliminate the deficit that would take place over several decades.

One plan would require both sides to increase contributions, but neither city council nor plan members have approved it.

The City of Regina's top manager said Friday that he takes the concerns raised by the province very seriously.

"The city has been serious about this file," Glen Davies, Regina's city manager, said. "We believe that there are options on the table before we get to the point [of termination]."

CUPE unhappy

While the city said it hopes to reach a negotiated solution, a statement Friday from one of the unions representing affected workers claimed they had reached the basis for a new arrangement and signed a letter of intent on it, but Regina officials have been trying to wring more concessions from workers.

"We made serious concessions to the pension plan in order to ensure the plan was financially stable," Kirby Benning, from CUPE, said in the union's statement. "Instead of moving forward with the deal that they signed, the City has proposed further cuts and major changes moving the process backwards and now we are in this mess."

According to CUPE, the average retiree receives about $20,000 a year from their civic pension.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.