Calgary council to decide whether to look at city worker pensions (and their own)

Council may decide on Monday to review all City of Calgary pension plans — including their own.

Two councillors are bringing forward notices of motion on the issue

Calgary council will discuss whether or not to undertake a review of city workers' pensions. (CBC)

Council may decide on Monday to review all City of Calgary pension plans — including their own.

Two councillors have brought forward notices of motion that could change the retirement payouts.

Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal is asking the city to hire an outside consultant to undertake a thorough review of city employee's pension plans.

"As far as I know, there's never been a review of this kind ever done," he said.

Chahal said the city spends about five per cent of its budget on pensions, or $208 million of the $3.8 billion the city spent last year.

But, he said a review isn't necessarily about just trying to find a way to cut payments. 

"What is the right mix of income and pension? I think that's what we need to look at and what is sustainable moving forward, so that those employees who do pay into the system can have a pension when they retire."

Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas also wants council to take a look at pensions — their pensions.

The councillor turned down his pension when he was first elected in 2017, saying it was too generous for someone in his early 30s.

Now, he's suggesting his colleagues vote to freeze their plan, effective June 10, and going forward replace it with a new plan he says would cost taxpayers less.

"I think now is the time if council is going to be credible and to really do first what we're asking of others, this is a really much-needed step," he said.

Farkas said Calgary's pension costs exceed those of other Canadian cities, and is suggesting council also scrap a current rule that allows the mayor to receive a second, supplementary pension.

He wants the city to adopt a pension plan similar to the one in Edmonton, which he says would see a lower ratio of taxpayer costs to council member contributions — closer to one-one than the current five-to-one ratio.

Last year, council voted to review retirement packages for city staff.

With files from Scott Dippel


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