UPDATE: Surrey RCMP pensions will be transferable to new police force, city says

Mayor Doug McCallum says he expects up to 60 per cent of RCMP members to join new force

The City of Surrey has formalized an agreement that will allow RCMP officers to transfer their pension, should they choose to serve with the Surrey Police Department.

The city announced in a press release Wednesday morning that the pension portability agreement was reached between the Municipal Pension Plan and the RCMP Pension Plan.

“Not only is this agreement a major milestone in the creation of our own city police department, but it more importantly answers a significant and legitimate concern expressed by RCMP members and their families about pension portability,” said Mayor Doug McCallum.

“I would like to thank the BC Pension Corporation and the RCMP for their leadership and quick work on resolving this issue. Now that the question of pension portability has been put to rest, I sincerely hope that the members of the RCMP who wish to continue to serve in Surrey will take the opportunity to be part of our new city police department.”

RCMP members who join the Surrey Police Department can take their contributory and pensionable service with them and incorporate it into the Municipal Pension Plan.

RELATED: Surrey to focus on transferring RCMP pensions to municipal force

However, while National Police Federation co-director Brian Sauve says the announcement is true, it does not mean that the pensions will convert dollar-for-dollar.

“The missing piece of that calculation is a member of the RCMP, every member of the RCMP that wants to move to the Vancouver, Delta, or Surrey PD, needs to make a request from the RCMP pension centre to calculate their individual circumstance and what their service level of pension contributions, as well as pension amount, will transfer into the receiving pension plan,” Sauve said.

“What it means, one year of service in the RCMP may not equal one year of service in the Surrey PD.”

Sauve said a 10- or 20-year member of the RCMP might be asked to pull out of their own pocket, $50,000 to $100,000 to match service levels in the receiving pension plan.

“Unless the municipality of service agrees to make up every shortfall for every calculation, which is obviously another tax hit to the budget of Surrey.”

Sauve said that the pension aspect will likely be one of the most important aspects for officers considering switching from RCMP to Surrey Police Department.

“I think if you have more than five years of service, it definitely is a major consideration. The majority of members in Surrey do. You’re talking seven years and up. You have a lot invested in your pension,” Sauve said.

Tuesday, Peace Arch News published an online article that outlined the importance of transferring the pension for Surrey’s ability to attract Surrey RCMP members to the new municipal police force.

McCallum said that if the pension could be transferred, he expects up to 60 per cent of Surrey RCMP officers to make the switch to the municipal force.

“It’s a very important issue to all of the RCMP families in Surrey,” McCallum said to PAN last week.

Surrey Coun. Jack Hundial, who was a Mountie for 25 years, was candid with his response when asked for his opinion on the likelihood of 60 per cent of Surrey RCMP officers joining the proposed municipal police department.

“That’s as ridiculous as saying we’re going to amalgamate White Rock or have a canal in Surrey,” Hundial said, making reference to remarks by Coun. Allison Patton that she wants to see a study into amalgamation and McCallum’s pitch for a “wandering canal” in the city.

Neither the City of Surrey, nor the Surrey RCMP, have conducted a formal study into how many current RCMP members have indicated a desire to switch to Surrey Police Department.

Sauve also commented on McCallum’s 60 per cent figure, saying the number is “pulled out of thin air.”

“The RCMP has not, and I would suggest they would not, do a survey of members that will patch over,” Sauve said. “That would be like Target surveying their employees as to who would like to go work for Walmart. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Suave said that NPF is not going to canvas members, either.

“We have members in Surrey, and if this (policing) plan goes through we’ll make sure they’re properly treated in a priority placement scenario.”

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