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Total Compensation Report

The consultant’s report benchmarked compensation for approximately 200 positions, including senior management, exempt staff (non-union), all union groups, firefighters and sworn police officers. The consultant took actions to ensure their data was not affected by compensation changes in response to the pandemic.

Findings from this report will now help inform decisions about total compensation in the future and ensure what is offered to employees is both competitive and sustainable. The report was presented to Council in January, 2021 by Morneau Shepell.

Total Compensation questions answered

What does Total Compensation mean?

City employees are provided with a total compensation package that extends beyond their salary. This includes the dollar value of any or all pay and benefits such as:

  • Paid vacation, sick days and holidays
  • Premiums and allowances
  • Medical, dental, life and disability insurance
  • Retirement plans and pensions
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EFAP)

How does City of Calgary Total Compensation packages measure up against that of other organizations?

In comparison with other public and private sector organizations in the study, The City’s compensation falls around the middle of the pack. The City’s benefit and pension plans are generally ahead of the midpoint, although specific provisions may lag behind.

Certain employee groups showed variation in their compensation elements above or below the market. For example, total cash compensation for senior management falls short of what they might receive in the private sector, primarily because The City does not offer short or long-term incentives like end-of-year bonuses.

See summary report findings supporting details

Are City employees paid in line with the targets set by The City's compensation philosophy?

The answer to this question is complex but overall, the consultant found The City of Calgary does compensate employees within the zone it targets. We aim neither to lead nor lag with assigning pay and generally target the median or midpoint (also called the P50 or 50th percentile) of the comparable market. This is illustrated in the bell-curve diagram below.

The report said that some wages for lower-level jobs are paid more than the market. Can these be altered without reviewing the full total compensation program?

The data does show that lower-level, unionized positions in particular, on average, seem to be paid higher than market, and some higher-level positions are paid a bit under market overall. We are now looking at the data to identify underlying trends. We cannot adjust one element without compromising the integrity of the entire program.

Refer to the determining compensation.

What did Administration recommend to Council when these findings were delivered?

Administration informed Council that it would review and refresh its compensation philosophy and begin work modernizing the exempt compensation system. Administration will also be looking at areas that appeared significantly ahead or behind the market to determine whether adjustments should be made.

To watch the video presentation and archived documents provided to Council on January 18, 2021: click here: Combined Meeting of Council - January 18, 2021 (
Item 10.1