Burnaby council pay cut directed to feed housebound seniors

City pay cut helps seniors

Burnaby city councillors have voted to direct 5% of their annual pay to help deliver frozen meals to housebound seniors.

Council approved a six-month 10% pay cut, which adds up to about $37,000 in total, in late April to show “solidarity” with the city’s 1,523 employees laid off due to COVID-19-related revenue losses. Financial records are not yet available for 2019, but 2018 records indicate councillors were paid upwards of $63,000, while the mayoral position was allotted $140,000.

Staff returned to council this week with a suggestion on how to use the $37,000 saved in council members’ pay: allocate that money to the city’s citizen support services. The program, with the help of 200 volunteers, helps support community members with health and living independently. That includes a grocery delivery service for housebound seniors.

“Staff reached out to clients within the existing program and identified over 80 additional seniors who cannot pay for meals and would benefit from being provided with meals during the pandemic period,” staff said in a report to council.

The city has been able to deliver a stockpile of 5,600 frozen meals to those 80 seniors on a weekly basis, and staff expect the delivery service to be available for 10 weeks. Staff noted the $37,000 could increase that program beyond the 10-week period but didn’t provide an estimate on how long that could last.

The idea received broad approval from council, with Coun. Joe Keithley calling it “a good move.”

Coun. Dan Johnston agreed, saying the pay cut signals council’s support for laid-off employees and that he was happy to see the money going to support vulnerable members of the community.

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