Full-time City Employees to use Pool/Gymnasium for Free

Hey—I tried to get my question answered in the Town Called Podunk blog section, but no one answered. However, obviously there are very strong opinions surrounding this issue, judging by the fact that almost every Letter to the Editor in the opinion section of the Daily News has been addressing this issue.

So–to try and get the ball rolling, I’ll start by going through the Daily News article to clear up some misconceptions.

[quote=“Daily News”]The City of Prince Rupert introduced a new City Employee Wellness Program policy at Monday night’s council meeting, meaning all full-time city employees will get to use its recreation facilities for free.

They join an elite group alongside RCMP members and firefighters, who now have free access to all the recreational facilities, including the Russell Gamble Gymnasium and the Earl Mah Aqauatic Centre.[/quote]

Elite group? I argue that “elite group” must be a term used for any and all unionized employees who enjoy some sort of perk.

The move was about making city staff healthier, and would add benefits such as reduced WCB claims due to health, and also enable the city to attract and keep employees, said Michael Curnes, director of recreation and community services.

“It is making a difference,” he said.

“We still need a lot of adult mentors.â€[/quote]

Every company gives perks to it’s employees. Banks give lower mortgage rates, interest rates and staff accounts to their employees. There’s nothing wrong with this and anyone picking a bone about it really needs to rethink what it is costing them(nothing or almost nothing).

Sometimes it seems like Rupert’s people just want to pick a bone, for the sake of picking a bone. Just like bar crowd.

I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with your post. At a time when the city is struggling to keep on top of it’s infrastructure and debt load, offering perks like this is never going to look very good to the taxpaying public, even if the cost to the city is negligable in the long run. Also, there is no way this type of perk is going to help retain employees either since better working conditions or increased wages is what is going to lure them away to other jobs, not being able to do some free laps. I’m not going to comment on the wages issue because I only know about comparable wages that make up a relatively small portion of the overall city budget but I know I’ve never felt sorry for full-time, unionised civic employees. At all!!  :wink:

The cost isn’t negligable, Staffron–it’s non-existant. I fail to see how a perk like this is any different than a member of the BC Nurses Union being given health benefits from the provincial government.

If you put in the work, you get the perks.

Seeing the number of responses, though, I guess this is far less of an issue than I had thought.

The cost isn’t negligable, Staffron–it’s non-existant.[/quote]

Only if you assume that absolutely none of these employees would go out and join a gym or pay for similar services if they weren’t getting them for free.  If even one of these employees would have paid for the service that they are now getting for free, it’s not “non-existant.”  There is a cost.

And two scenarios come into play here:

  • A large number of city employees already use this service, and pay for it, and therefore it’s seen as a good perk.  I agree that there’s nothing wrong with perks for employees.


  • Absolutely no city employees already use this service.  Therefore it’s a useless perk.

But if just one employee is currently using the service and now stops paying for it, there’s your cost.

Fair enough.  The union negotiated this perk for the employees, right?

Is it a taxable benefit?

I agree with you.  But no need to spin it as a “non-existant” cost.  I think you should instead think of spinning the health benefits – healthier workers are cheaper workers.

I also see the other side, even though I don’t agree with it.  All of a sudden none of those employees will join a gym.

It’s ok to disagree with your spin and still be able to agree with your position :wink:

Here’s another example:  I get free coffee at work.  I’m sure there’s a cost (I have no idea who pays for it.)  It’s a great perk, makes me a better worker too.  Should Tim Horton’s be complaining about it?

Finally, the BIGGEST mistake of all. It DOES NOT cost the City a penny to give its employees this perk. Not a cent. [/quote]

City employees have never paid to use the pool? I find that hard to believe.

Not getting revenue isn’t a cost guys–it’s completely irrelevant. It doesn’t help the City, but it doesn’t hurt the City. The recreation complex is no more and no less expensive to run with or without revenue from City employees.

It’s not quite the same as your coffee example, Mig. Someone actually does pay for the coffee, we assume–somewhere along the line someone loses money. It’s not a cost to not gain money, as is the case at the pool.

Not getting revenue isn’t a cost guys–it’s completely irrelevant.[/quote]

Gotta remember that line when we talk about 25 million dollars in lost taxes.

Shoplifting doesn’t cost businesses money. 

If someone doesn’t pay their taxes, it doesn’t cost the city anything.

Someone actually does pay for the health benefits, we assume–somewhere along the line someone loses money. 

The city doesn’t lose money if people don’t pay to use the pool?  Sounds good to me!

Is getting to swim for free still exactly the same as getting a health plan for free? ie: no cost?

Oh man. 

Seriously, eccentric, drop the “it doesn’t cost a penny” routine and just stick to the benefits. 

If your argument is hinged on the debatable semantic meaning of the word “cost” then you’ve lost already.

I mean, what’s next?  Free garbage pick up for employees.  It won’t “cost” the city anything?  Or no property taxes for employees.  Another “perk” that won’t “cost” the city “a single penny!”

I wonder if the people who are complaining about the city employee perk are unionised.
I wouldn’t be complaining, it’s a perk you get for being in a union. Nothing more. Just like employees in the HEU get full health benefits. Are you going to complain about that too?

I think the people are complaining because the city is broke, but is acting like it’s not broke.

I think people are also complaining because the city just raised taxes and now is giving away this revenue.

I agree with the perk, but it does cost the city revenue.  No denying that.

I asked this earlier, but didn’t get an answer:  was this negotiated by the union, or was it just decided that the perk was more important than the revenue?

As it turns out from city employees they knew nothing about it, Michael Curnes did not speak to them about it and it is making things hard on employees because they must defend themselves in public. I do not blame them but the move itself. I still feel it should have been there to target seniors and people with disabilities. It is for employee and not family. Many that I have talked with said they will not use it.

So the employees union didn’t even ask for it?

I have no idea if union asked for it but that is what I am getting out there. Maybe Russel Weins would know and I understand he knows Micheal Curnes.

I can’t believe this stupid argument over the definition of “cost”.

If pressed for a reason for this “perk” it can simply be defended by saying that encouraging employees to be healthy saves the city far more money than a few free memberships cost them.

Oh crap… I said “cost”. :astonished:

What you don’t know is that Gord Howie’s (City Administrator) wife was paid last year was a whooping $109,000 dollars of our tax dollars for doing nothing.  Also she was paid over $50,000 dollars at the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District for F all. To date, I have discovered no one on Council even has a clue this has taken place.  So please tell me what you think!

The union didn’t negotiate this persay–it wasn’t a part of the formal contract discussion. However, there was definitely a sense within some parts of the union that it would be an excellent perk—especially when some people found out that Lifeguards have been swimming for free for years with no formal policy in place.

That’s kind of random, but you bring it up. Though I have no idea what she does, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t do anything.

This isn’t the first or second time Council Watch has brought it up.

Yea–I meant to say he brings it up a lot.