"The average public sector pension is about $1,200 a month — hardly lavish. It is paid for by workers. The pension is in return for them turning down higher salaries in the private sector (oil and gas wages, anyone?) to provide vital services." — Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA President
Edmonton (29 Jan. 2014) — On January 21, the Calgary Herald published an editorial characterizing public sector pensions as "lavish." Elisabeth Ballermann, President of the Health Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE), continued her defense of the public pension system, providing a dose of reality for the Herald about how retired workers depend on these benefits to live with dignity.
Attacks on public pensions continuing in Alberta
For the last year, the Alberta government, business community and mainstream media have launched a consolidated attack on public workers' pensions across the province. The labour movement has stood strong in the face of the opposition, even providing its own research, and analysis, about the state of the provincial pension funds. The study determined that Alberta's pensions are sustainable without the government's planned rollbacks to benefits.
Read Ballermann's full letter below.
Hard-working Albertans deserve security in their retirement, so they can meet their basic needs. It is those without such security who risk becoming dependent on the state and taxpayers. An attack on public-sector workers, including the health-care workers represented by the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, to undermine their modest pensions, helps no one.
The average public-sector pension is about $1,200 a month - hardly lavish. It is paid for by workers. This pension is in return for them turning down higher salaries in the private sector (oil and gas wages, anyone?) to provide vital services.
To slash pensions without negotiating with them is unfair. It is also unwise. The effects will be felt by businesses in communities across the province as future generations of retired Albertans curtail their spending. It will be felt by Albertans needing health care who find no one is willing to do that work anymore.
A far better plan would be to improve retirement security for all Albertans by backing CPP expansion.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE