"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Saturday 20 February 2010

Here's A Thought

Comments have been made elsewhere about the Mayor's attendance at regional meetings recently. Regional Councillors' salaries were mentioned in the context of meetings held and meetings missed.

The salary figure didn't sound right so I made an inquiry. The salary is almost $48,000 a year.There has been a recent increase of $5,000. But I discovered something else I didn't know.

Regional Councillors receive over $10,000 in benefits. They are enrolled in the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement Fund. They receive employee health and dental plan benefits. They are enrolled in the regional employees life insurance plan. They do not, nor does the region contribute on their behalf, to the Canada Employment Insurance Plan

All employers and employees are obliged to contribute to the Canada Employment Insurance Plan.

However, Regional Councillors receive severance pay when they are defeated or decide to retire from politics. They receive a month's pay for every year served in office

So what, you might say. Sour grapes, you might say. But wait a minute...

In the last two weeks, two documents have presented for my attention. The town is negotiating a union contract this year.

A message from Association of Municipalities of Ontario reveals the Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement Fund is in deficit by billions. Higher contributions are likely to be needed to stabilise the funds.Contributions are shared with the employer. The employer is the taxpayer.

Now excuse me But one side of every wage negotiation is employer. The other is employee. That much is clear.

Benefits are always a part of the package to be negotiated. More so this year because of the deficit in the OMERS fund.

How can Regional Council, negotiate benefits, when they themselves are beneficiaries?

How can politicians, who are not entitled to participate in Canada Employment Insurance because they are not employees, be entitled to receive benefits through a package negotiated in a union agreement?

From the beginning, the Region of York Act permitted Councillors to join OMERS.

I did not question that at the time. I joined and when I left, I withdrew my contributions and bought a sewing machine.

But now the benefits have grown to include health and dental and life insurance. It costs taxpayers $10,000 a year for each councillor. In the context of numbers of meetings, attended or not, that amount is significant.

But more significant, how can the elected body, representative of the employer, negotiate in the interest of the employer, when the elected body stands to benefit from the negotiations?

Among my readers, there must be people familiar with the principles of labour negotiations. I would be happy to hear how this situation strikes you.


Anonymous said...

As our only representative on Regional Council our Mayor (and if I recall correctly former Councillor who pushed for a second seat at the table at the time but now is eerily silent on this issue) is receiving these benefits.

Is she not also covered by a benefits package as Monarch, oops I mean Mayor, of the town?

Double dipping at the veggie tray?

Anonymous said...

Not sure what the surprise is.Since the death of Dick Illingsworth, the Region enjoys a free pass as there is no one watching and commenting on the antics there.I remember Richard taking exception to continued cost overruns on projects, questionable hiring of senior staff, the departure of very skilled and respected staff and the antics of a chair who suffers from short man syndrome.Nothing surprises me whe it comes to the Region.