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Pay freeze, transition allowance capped for Calgary city council

Calgary city councillors’ pay will be unchanged for 2021 and their transition allowance will be capped after the plan was adopted at city council Monday.

The volunteer, citizen-led Council Compensation Review committee delivered their final report at the Combined Meeting of Council Monday night.

Their recommendations included the pay freeze and indexing on a monthly Alberta Weekly Earnings (AWE) average from September to September each year. It also included workers compensation for council members, the dissolution of the mayor’s supplementary pension plan and changing the transition allowance.

Committee chair Scarlett Crockatt said Calgary city councillors are the third highest paid when compared with 11 other cities in Canada. However, the overall city council salary cost was the second lowest among the comparables.

“Calgary’s members of council have had no pay increases in 2019 and 2020. The other comparitors increased on average over this period,” she said.

Coun. Jeromy Farkas, who has pushed for changes to council pay, questioned why there wasn’t a decrease.

“Given the economic downturn and the loss of opportunity and the loss of wages that’s occurred here locally, not just in Calgary, but also Alberta, Canada, and internationally,” Coun. Farkas began.

“Why is the recommendation to keep council’s salary flat rather than pursue reductions?”

Crockatt said they looked at the peer group across the country for direction. They also took the current economic situation into account.

“There has been a reduction in two years of the past four and the other two have been zeros,” Crockatt said.

“So, not just have we declined relative to the peer group, we’ve declined in absolute dollars as well.”

Transition pay gets capped

Councillors will still receive a transition pay, something that’s been a bone of contention in the past.

It will, however, be capped at two weeks per year of service, up to a maximum of 26 weeks.  

Crockatt said the transition allowance paid out to councillors is a relatively small amount of the overall compensation.

“I think it’s great that the council wants to look at things that would reduce costs,” she said.

“We did not believe the transition allowance is an overall high cost and in terms of the compensation, and we did believe it was competitively justified.”

Councillors also voted afterwards to look at adding long term disability to the coverage they receive.