Retirement allowances paid by city questioned by Calgary councillor

A city councillor in Calgary says he's not happy with the answers he's getting about retirement allowances for civic employees.

City shelled out $8.2M in retirement allowances in 2016 and 2017, according to Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating says he's not satisfied with answers received so far about retirement allowances for civic employees. (CBC)

A Calgary city councillor says he's not happy with the answers he's getting about retirement allowances for civic employees.

The allowances — which are equal to the employees' annual vacation entitlements — have been paid by the city since the 1980s for retiring employees.

Information about the payouts was revealed earlier this year through a freedom of information request made by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which said the city paid out $4.8 million in allowances last year and $3.4 million in 2016.

Coun. Shane Keating asked city administrators about the program, including why it was put in place.

On Friday, the Ward 12 representative said he doesn't feel any further ahead in understanding why it exists.

"As it is now, I don't really see the benefit other than strictly giving a bonus to those who have retired, and I'm not sure that's exactly what we should be doing in this day and age," he said.

The allowances are designed to help retain employees and encourage them to stay until they reach retirement. The average length of service for employees getting the payment is 27 years.

And the program — which the city intends to keep — hasn't been reviewed since 2010.

Keating said he'll express his displeasure to the city manager at next week's council meeting.

And if nothing happens, Keating said he plans to discuss it with his council colleagues to see if they should do more to encourage the city to drop or alter the program.

With files from Scott Dippel