Brown urges equal treatment for all public safety officers regarding the maximum annual pension accrual rate.
Ottawa (18 Jan. 2019) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has urged the Minister of Finance to change Canada’s income tax regulations to recognize probation officers, sheriffs, highway safety officers, and conservation officers.
Expand definition of public safety occupations for pension accrual rate
In a letter to Minister Bill Morneau, Larry Brown, the President of NUPGE, called for amendments to the provisions in the Income Tax Regulations covering the pension accrual rate for public safety officers.
The Income Tax Regulations provide that under a defined benefit RPP, the maximum annual pension accrual rate applicable to any particular range of earnings cannot exceed 2 per cent. An exemption is given for those employed in certain public safety occupations for whom this maximum is 2.33 per cent.
Defined benefit RPP favours some public safety occupations, excludes others
In the regulations, the definition of public safety officer refers to the occupations of firefighter, police officer, corrections officer, air traffic controller, commercial airline pilot, and paramedic. The problem with this definition is that it does not recognize those who work under similar conditions in law enforcement — probation officers, sheriffs, highway safety officers and conservation officers — and who face many of the same risks.
Brown calls on Minister to treat all public safety officers equally
In his letter, Brown urged the Minister to expand the definition of public safety occupations to include these other occupations in the sector in which workers operate under similar conditions in law enforcement but are not considered public safety officers under the pension tax rules.
He wrote: “Across this country there are thousands of people working to ensure that our communities are safe and secure. Probation officers, sheriffs, highway safety officers and conservation officers spend their days enforcing the laws of this country. Many of these workers have responsibilities that are directly comparable to those of our country’s police or correctional officers. They deal with offenders and criminal justice issues as a condition of their employment. But they are not considered public safety officers by the Income Tax Regulations.”
Brown added, “We are asking you to extend the same pension tax rules to these other public safety occupations, thus ensuring that all public safety officers are treated equally.”
The federal government should recognize the work of all public safety officers
Brown wrote that this is fundamentally a question of equal recognition and respect: “By addressing this inequality in the application of the maximum pension accrual rate, the federal government would be recognizing the work these people do, the inherent risks of these occupations, and the long-term health toll that serving our country in this way entails. Workplace stress and hazards with these occupations have all too often meant that these workers are unable to enjoy a full and long retirement.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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