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This article was published 15/11/2019 (472 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Mayor Brian Bowman and city councillors will be crossing the thin blue line next week when they decide whether to unilaterally change the pensions of Winnipeg police officers.

Bowman, after speaking at a meeting of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, confirmed that the drive to overhaul police pensions — a promise he made during last year's civic election and a move that has the Winnipeg Police Association threatening legal action — will be decided at city council on Thursday.

"The decision is going to come down, as we can see very clearly, between a choice between supporting unsustainable pension benefits or better protecting front-line police officer positions," the mayor said Friday.

"One of the things we know we can't do is continue to do the same thing, year after year, and expect different results. We also know that this is the most expensive pension that we have in Canada.

"Changes are needed, so for members of council, they'll have that opportunity at our council meeting next week, to provide the leadership many Winnipeggers have called for (for) many, many years."

The city wants to change the pension, a move that would shift $12 million in annual costs from the city to individual police officers annually: by excluding overtime from pensionable earnings; not allowing police to draw their pensions until age 55, or 50 if they have 25 years of credited service; increasing employee contributions from eight per cent to 11.5 per cent over five years; and having no city or taxpayer exposure to unfunded liabilities.

Earlier this week, police association president Moe Sabourin served Bowman with papers to let him know the union will be filing a grievance claiming the city is acting in bad faith by imposing the pension changes.

Sabourin said any changes should be made only through bargaining. He said the union will use a provision in its collective agreement that calls for an arbitrator to settle disputes


Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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