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Two pensions for Nenshi?

February 26, 2018
Two pensions for Nenshi?

Those following the current discussion about the golden pension benefits provided to Calgary's city council might find this blog post of interest ... notably, the fact that Calgary appears to be the only major city in Canada that offers two pensions for its mayor.

If you turn to page 51 of the City of Calgary's 2016 Annual Report you'll see the city has a registered pension for all of council – the Pension Plan for Elected Officials of The City of Calgary. (This link shows a breakdown of how much council has put in versus what taxpayers have had to pay – click here)

However, on page 53 the city notes it also operates a Supplementary Pension Plan for Elected Officials of The City of Calgary.

The second pension was established in 1999 and provides benefits above the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) maximum tax deductible pension contribution limits. Unlike the first plan, this second plan is 100% paid for by taxpayers and only the mayor's salary is high enough to qualify.

In short, the second pension is designed to work with the main council pension to ensure eligible recipients receive a golden payout that is based on their full salary instead of the lower threshold that the CRA allows for registered plans. See page 13 of this city document for a few more details on this second pension plan – click here.

So how do we know Calgary is likely the only major city that offers its mayor two pensions? See this Case Dillon & Associates report that was commissioned by the City of Calgary – click here. The purpose of the report was to compare Calgary's council compensation with other large cities – Toronto, Ottawa, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Page 11 notes that the other six cities examined do not provide a "supplementary" pension plan. Thus, unless Montreal provides such a benefit, Calgary is the only major city (600,000+ people) that offers such a unique benefit.

Considering 76% of Albertans working outside government don't have a workplace pension, the status quo is quite a tough pill for many taxpayers to swallow (this news release – click here – compares the cost of council's pension with Edmonton's retirement benefits approach).

To be clear, our pension beef is not with Mayor Nenshi, nor is it with most members of council. Remember, most council members weren't around when these plans were implemented or modified. Our recent push is not a finger pointing exercise, but one focussed on fixing the problem.  

Just as Stephen Harper decided to take a sizeable cut to his own pension, hopefully we'll see the mayor and council do the same.

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