VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – This weekend’s civic elections mark the end of the line for many politicians, who have announced they are stepping away from public life.
For some, it also means an extra cheque.
A handful of municipalities in Metro Vancouver have transition funds for outgoing councillors and mayors.
Port Coquitlam and Delta are the most recent cities to adopt a policy to provide a type of pension for non-returning civic politicians.
In 2015, Port Coquitlam councillors passed what it calls a transition allowance for the mayor only.
“The City shall provide the Mayor with a transition allowance in the year in which they depart office. The transition allowance will be equivalent to one month pay for every year in the Mayor’s Office to a maximum of six months. The allowance is to be paid out at the end of the Mayor’s term in office. The allowance is not payable to a Mayor that resigns mid-term other than for health reasons.”
Outgoing mayor Greg Moore is about to collect $48,376 for his ten years of service.
In 2017, councillors in Delta voted for ‘service benefits,’ effectively a pension, for retiring council members. They will be paid an equivalent amount to what city employees get from a municipal pension plan. It only applies to those with 12 years of continuous service.
Outgoing mayor Lois Jackson is in line to receive $124,153 but she is running again as a councillor.
SFU political scientist Patty Smith points out retirement payouts are common in other Canadian cities.
“I come down on the side of the politicians on this one. We are a little behind the trend line, as far as what’s been happening across Canada,” he says.
Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary, he points out, all offer retiring council members a form of pension, based on a percentage of their pay and years of service. Some payouts only happen when the councillors reach a certain age.
“Halifax is closer to Vancouver, in that it has no pension. Ottawa is closer to that end as well. There is a spectrum. Not all municipalities have bought into the idea.”
Smith believes transition benefits are needed to properly compensate people who’ve held public office and who might still need to find work after their term.
“Other municipalities have recognized that if you want attract decent people, you need to reflect some realities of uncertainty. Some people will be unemployed.”
The City of North Vancouver, Surrey and New Westminster also offer variations of a pension for outgoing council members.