There seems to be support on Winnipeg city council to redirect more of the savings from proposed changes to the police pension plan to avert the potential reduction loss of officers and cadets.
Coun. Markus Chambers is pushing to redirect $14.7 million of a possible $38.9-million pot to supplement the Winnipeg Police Service's four-year budget plan.
Chambers, who is a member of the Winnipeg Police Board, said the $14.7 million would be given to the police to prevent the elimination of 34 uniformed officers and 25 cadets, which Chief Danny Smyth previously said would be a consequence of the ordered annual two per cent cap on the department's budget.
The $14.7 million would be in addition to $1.5 million annually already proposed to be redirected to the police budget if the pension changes are approved.
Chambers’s proposal, which is supported by finance committee chairman Coun. Scott Gillingham, will be presented to council at its Thursday meeting, where the changes to the police pension plan will be debated.
According to an administrative report, the changes would generate $8 million in savings in 2020, and an additional $30.9 million between 2021 and 2023. Once fully implemented, there would be annual savings of $12.5 million.
Mayor Brian Bowman and most members of his executive policy committee want to impose unilateral changes on the police pension plan: eliminating overtime hours as pensionable earnings, reductions in early retirement provisions and increasing individual contributions while reducing the city’s financial share.
Couns. Brian Mayes (a member of EPC) and Kevin Klein, chairman of the Winnipeg Police Board, have opposed unilaterally imposing such changes.
The city police union is challenging the move, claiming it violates the collective agreement. The Winnipeg Police Association has requested an arbitrator to stall any moves until the dispute can be resolved through the grievance process.
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.