Calgary mayor, police union at odds over maternal benefits’ impact on recruiting women

Calgary’s police union president claims a lack of maternal benefits is hurting attempts to recruit female police officers, but Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Monday it hasn’t stopped women from joining law enforcement.

“I certainly have not seen any evidence of that in recruiting,” the mayor told reporters, in response to a question from Metro.

Calgary Police Association president Howard Burns previously told Metro he would be advising potential officers to look carefully at benefits being offered by the City of Calgary if they were considering joining the service.

“If they’re planning on having a family, right now, I would probably steer clear of Calgary,” he said.

Burns pointed out Calgary is falling behind when it comes to maternal benefits as some police services in other jurisdictions are offering what he says are more attractive packages, and in a market where agencies across the country are trying to recruit more women, he feels it puts Calgary at a disadvantage.

However, Nenshi said his administration has to ensure unions and associations across the city are treated fairly and numerous factors need to be considered.

“I will point out that some of what we have heard on this issue only benchmarks other police services,” the mayor said. “It’s important to benchmark across the economy and, in particular, here at the City of Calgary.”

“I may have several different unions, but I’ve got nearly 20,000 colleagues and I don’t think it would be fair to treat one group of colleagues in this way, differently than other groups.”

The City of Calgary and the CPA are currently in arbitration and union officials say the maternal benefits are one of the primary issues on the table.

– With files from Robson Fletcher