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Former regional councillors who voted for lifetime benefits express 'regret'


Seven former Waterloo regional councillors who voted in favour of giving themselves lifetime benefits last month have issued a statement saying they “regret the way in which this unfolded.”

The decision, made during one of the last meetings of the former council’s term on Nov. 8, caused a flurry of controversy. Of the nine councillors who voted in favour of extending health and dental coverage for retired regional councillors until death, two who are serving another term have already said they plan to try to undo the decision.

On Monday, the remaining seven who supported the extended benefits issued a statement saying they are pleased the new council will be considering a motion to create a citizen advisory committee to review councillor compensation.

The plan for the committee comes from a motion by Coun. Michael Harris that’s set to be discussed at Tuesday’s administration and finance committee. It also seeks to rescind the lifetime benefits plan.

“I can’t go back and change my vote,” Harris, who initially voted for the extended benefits, told CTV News last month. “But the next best thing will be to go back and move forward with a motion submitted by myself, seconded by Joe Nowak, to cease the implementation of post-service benefits.”

The statement released Monday is signed by former councillors Sean Strickland, Dave Jaworsky, Geoff Lorentz, Helen Jowett, Karl Keifer, Kathryn McGarry and Les Armstrong.

“We encourage the citizens committee to look at all facets of regional council responsibilities and make fair determination on councillor compensation and benefits,” the former councillors said.

They also appeared to address criticism the lifetime benefits plan was passed quickly without enough debate or public input.

“The benefit report that we reviewed on Nov. 8 had been written for weeks and several councillors had tried unsuccessfully to have the report tabled in public earlier,” the former councillors said.

Under the plan approved on Nov. 8, regional councillors would see their benefit coverage for dental, life insurance, supplementary health costs and out-of-province health insurance extended until death.

Councillors would be eligible after serving one term and after they reach the age of 55.

Previously, regional councillors’ benefit coverage ended when their term was finished.

Tuesday’s administration and finance committee meeting starts at 1 p.m. Top Stories

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