News And Intrigue From Regina City Hall

Living Wage Now Later: Council Takes It Slow

Councillor Shawn Fraser’s motion asking city administration to explore the feasibility of a living wage policy met with a fair bit of resistance at council’s May 30 meeting.

In his motion, Fraser distinguishes a living wage from a minimum wage in that, while a minimum wage is merely the legal minimum employers are allowed to pay their employees, a living wage “reflects what earners in a family need to bring home based on the actual costs of living in a specific community.”

A living wage policy, if adopted, would require the city not only guarantees their own immediate staff a living wage but would extend to employees of subcontractors hired to provide services for the city, such as road work or canker worm spraying.

The key sticking point with Fraser’s motion was the timeline he proposed. Fraser asked for a report back from city administration on the cost, logistics and impact of adopting a living wage policy in time for consideration in the 2017 budget cycle. As the 2017 cycle is already underway, several councillors felt a report for the 2018 cycle would be more achievable.

And even though Fraser’s motion only sought information about a living wage policy and didn’t propose adoption of one itself, several councillors expressed reservations about the policy including how it would increase costs for the city; if it would tie administration’s hands in what contractors they could work with; and how such a policy might contravene trade rules to which the city is subject.

In the end, a motion from Councillor Wade Murray passed, deferring the living wage policy report until the 2018 budget cycle. /Paul Dechene

Queen City Cultural Plan: It Ain’t $278 Million But It’s A Start

At their May 30 meeting, council also passed an ambitious cultural plan that defines how the city will support the arts, heritage and cultural industries over the next 10 years. The plan sets out a vision to “embrace cultural diversity, strengthen the artistic and cultural community and to commemorate and celebrate Regina’s cultural heritage.”

Councillor Mike O’Donnell noted how much support the city has received so far for the plan.

“While there were seven delegations here tonight or letters of support, aside from this there were 12 other organizations that sent letters of support for a total of 19,” he said. “It’s not always the case that when we have something come before us that there’s that much support.”

In fact, the new cultural plan has garnered many rave reviews from the city’s cultural organizations.

“… a wonderful framework upon which to build informed policy for the future of our city”, according to a submission by CARFAC Saskatchewan (Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le Front Des Artists Canadiens).

The Regina Folk Festival wrote “… we strongly feel that our mandate to positively impact the quality of life in the city … is well supported by this plan.”

“We believe the City of Regina Cultural Plan does position the city to move forward in an exciting direction,” wrote the Knox-Metropolitan United Church.

“Adoption of this plan is a milestone of major significance to our City,” wrote the Nicor Group.

Hard to argue with endorsements like that.

The report anticipates that the cultural plan will be supported by funding in the range of $530,000 to $720,000 over its 10 years. Although, council noted that funding will be reviewed during the annual budget cycles and will be adjusted to suit needs and resources. /Paul Dechene