Regina - Employees enrolled in the Regina Civic Pension Plan are shocked by the news that the Deputy Superintendent of Pensions is considering cancelling their pension plan, considering the fact that a deal has been reached and only needs a final push to be implemented.
In May 2013, after years of difficult work and negotiation, the City and other employers and employee groups agreed on a set of substantial changes to the Regina Civic Employees’ Superannuation & Benefit Plan, which involved serious concessions in the form of future benefit reductions on the part of plan members. The City and its unions signed a letter of intent on all of the major changes needed, and committed to moving forward to discuss a few minor issues related to governance and dispute resolution.
“Over the last six months, the City has showed little interest in getting down to the meat and potatoes of negotiating the outstanding items in good faith,” said Kirby Benning, chair of the Regina Civic Pension and Benefit Committee. “Instead of moving forward with the deal that they signed, the City has proposed further cuts and major changes moving the process backwards, and now we are in this mess.”
The signed agreement reduced the cost of the plan by one quarter and shifted a significant amount of future risk from the City to workers. At the time, all parties agreed publicly that these changes made the plan stable, sustainable and affordable for all sides, while still delivering modest defined pension benefits.
“We made serious concessions to the pension plan in order to ensure the plan was financially stable,” says Benning. “Now, instead of implementing the agreed-to changes, we are being told that we may not have a pension plan at all.
“The provincial regulators knew full well that the employer was failing to make its required contributions to the plan. We put them on notice about this more than three years ago,” added Benning. “Over the last few months we’ve tried to meet them to discuss the situation but they told us they were too busy. Not once did they indicate that they would take action like this.”
“We believe that the plan we negotiated in good faith last May can be implemented, and allows the members to retire with security and dignity,” added Benning. “We will fight to protect the deal that we fairly negotiated.”
The Regina Civic Pension Plan covers 21 employee groups and five employers - the City of Regina, some Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region employees at the Regina General Hospital, non-teaching staff at the Regina Public School Division, Buffalo Pound Water Administration Board and the Regina Public Library.
The pension income that plan members receive is modest, with the average retiree bringing in just $1,600 a month or $20,000 a year from their pension.
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