At a press conference today, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) called upon Premier Brian Gallant to honour his campaign promises to sit down at the table with groups representing civil servants and retirees to look at alternatives to the previous Conservative government’s pension reforms.
This is in light of the release of a new independent third party report authored by a team of pension and investment actuaries from PBI Actuarial Consultants in Toronto. The report found that contrary to the previous Conservative government’s assertions that there is a “less than 2.5% chance” that base pensions will be cut, based on PBI’s slightly different assumptions about future economic scenarios, there is nearly a 30% chance of this happening.
CUPE feels that this proves what they have been saying all along; that the repeal and conversion of the Public Sector Superannuation Act is not a shared risk, but a shifted risk pension that moves the risk from government to members. Government now only faces the risk of a small capped increase in contributions. Plan members face that same risk, but also face the additional, and much more serious risk that the benefits which they have earned in the “Shared Risk” plan can now be reduced without limit.
There are a wide range of potential futures which the actuaries deem professionally acceptable, but the New Brunswick government presented the public just one of these sets of futures and largely spoke about it as fact. This report shows that it is nothing of the sort, and that shared risk doesn’t work for members or retirees.
CUPE NB continues to say that a better, fairer deal could and should be in place for New Brunswick. While campaigning for election, now Premier Brian Gallant echoed these words in September of last year when he said: “We believe all employees should be treated equally and be given the opportunity to participate in fair negotiations on pensions. We would invite all those civil servants and retirees who had pension reforms imposed on them back to the table for an open, fair and transparent dialogue.”
Ari Kaplan, legal counsel to the Pension Coalition NB, said “Retirees and active employees agree that the Premier has more to do to fulfill the promises he has made. The PBI report serves to underscore the uncertainty to retirees in the security of their pensions.”
“For many months now, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) has been extremely concerned with the very significant reduction in benefits its members will have to absorb as a result of the PSSRP”, said Steve Hindle, PIPSC national Vice-President. “The revelations in the PBI report only serve to deepen those concerns. On June 17, 2015, PIPSC demanded the reinstatement of defined benefits for their members, and provided Government with an actuarially sound solution that would provide for the reinstatement of defined benefits for all current and former public servants, while at the same time reducing Government’s annual pension contributions by as much as 50 million dollars, for their consideration. We are still waiting for a reply, said Mr. Hindle.
CUPE’s position throughout the past several years is that we are willing to sit down and look at alternatives with the government, saying that they are open to change. They are calling on Premier Gallant to meet them at the table for the open, fair and transparent dialogue he promised.