Nova Scotia

Halifax mayor, councillors to consider freezing their own wages

Halifax regional council members will consider freezing their own wages for a year at a meeting Tuesday afternoon. For the past two years, wage hikes for the mayor and councillors have been tied to the average increase for Nova Scotia workers.

Pay raises normally tied to average increases for Nova Scotia workers

Members of Halifax regional council will consider freezing their wages for a year. (Robert Short/CBC)

Halifax regional council members will consider freezing their own wages for a year at a meeting Tuesday afternoon.

For the past two years, wage hikes for the mayor and councillors have been tied to the year-over-year average weekly earnings increase for Nova Scotia workers, which is calculated by Statistics Canada.

The increases have come in automatically on Nov. 1. In 2018, there was a one per cent increase and in 2019 there was a 4.3 per cent hike.

Councillors now make just over $92,000 a year. The mayor makes $190,000 a year.

Coun. Shawn Cleary, who is proposing the freeze, is worried another raise is possible because COVID-19 bonuses paid to some essential workers, such a grocery store employees, could mean there's still an average annual earnings increase in Nova Scotia.

"How can we in good conscience entertain a raise," he said, when the municipality earlier this month slashed tens of millions of dollars from its operating budget due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.

His proposal would see council pay frozen until Oct. 31, 2021.

The municipality's chief administrative officer, Jacques Dubé, has warned that next year's budget could be even more challenging because of the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and commercial property tax revenues.

Municipal elections are scheduled to take place in October. New members of council are sworn in on Nov. 1, which is why Cleary is only suggesting a one-year freeze.

"If the new council comes in, depending on what the budget situation looks like, they may decide to put another freeze in," he said.

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