Controlling compensation costs

During the budget meeting on November 28, 2013, community members and City Councillors discussed several aspects of the City’s budget including how Guelph is managing employee compensation costs.

Like any business, employee salaries and benefits represent a significant portion of the City’s operating budget, and it is important for the community to have correct information on the subject.

Here you will find current, accurate information about compensation, and a few of the steps the City is taking to manage these costs as part of Guelph’s Financial Strategy.

  • The City’s Human Resources Annual Reports compare Guelph to other municipalities using the Human Resources Benchmarking Initiative and to the broader public and private sectors through the Conference Board of Canada.
  • Compensation makes up 46 per cent of the City’s operating budget, and that figure is consistent with most other municipalities. Emergency Services (Police, Fire, and Land Ambulance) represents 38.8 per cent of total compensation or 17.9 per cent of total operating budget.
  • Contrary to public perception, both public and private sector wage increases have been declining since to 2007 and there appears to be higher variability in the level of increases in private sector compare to the broader public sector, as presented to the Corporate Administration, Finance and Enterprise Committee on April 23, 2013.
  • The City is actively managing compensation costs and has already achieved approximately $1 million in savings through more efficient administration of employee benefits
  • The City is overhauling its overtime system in response to findings of an internal audit. The City expects to find cost savings as it acts and reports on the recommendations of the audit, and applies overtime more consistently and transparently throughout the organization.

Compensation figures presented in a report authored by the Canadian Taxpayer Federation (CTF) were also discussed during the meeting. The City welcomes objective comparative analysis of municipal finances, but this report is not one. In fact, the CTF cited several flaws in its own data collection and analysis.

A more accurate analysis in included in the annual BMA Municipal Study. The study evaluates and compares 86 cities across Ontario, and finds Guelph to have positive tax, water/wastewater and affordability.

Learn more about Guelph’s Financial Strategy at