City of Calgary compensation lags private sector, comparable to other cities, says report

The City of Calgary has released the results of its first-ever total compensation review for its staff and found that it's on par with other jurisdictions.

External report examined total compensation, including pensions and benefits, for city employees

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he was anticipating a compensation review would reveal areas to cut, but the data showed a different story. (CBC)

The City of Calgary has released the results of its first-ever total compensation review for its staff and found that it's on par with other jurisdictions. 

An external consultant found senior bureaucrats at the city are paid more than private sector competitors and have better pensions, but they don't qualify for the same kinds of bonuses that exist in the private sector. 

Overall, the consultant's review found that the city's compensation is comparable to what other cities offer and slightly behind the private sector.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the report busts a lot of myths about compensation at the city.

"[The figures] really show that for front-line staff, they're actually probably getting paid in total compensation a little bit less than they would if they were in the private sector — that includes pension and job security and benefits," he said.

"But ultimately, I think the city's done a really good job of trying to remain extremely fair on all of this, unfortunately, because I was kind of hoping there'd be big savings opportunities here."

Speaking to the issue of pensions, Bob Sullivan, one of Morenau Shepell consultants hired by the city to produce the report, said nuance is key. 

"I know there has been some talk about triple pensions in the media. It is crucial that the focus be on the overall value of the plans in aggregate, and not how many plans there are," he said.

"In a way, focusing on the number of plans is no different than determining your wealth by the number of coins in your pocket. In other words, would you prefer to have three quarters or a loonie?"

Council has asked administration to come back by the end of June with recommendations for adjustments to its pay and benefits for city workers.

With files from Scott Dippel.


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