Finance minister has proposed major changes to Ontario's public sector pension plans.
Ottawa (31 July 2012) – Several dozen public sector workers, social activists and local labour leaders demonstrated outside of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Ottawa constituency office last week in opposition to proposed changes that could take away control workers have over their own retirement funds.
“What the McGuinty government is doing amounts to an unprecedented attack on the voice public sector workers have over their own pensions,” said Chris Cormier, a member of the executive board for the eastern region of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
Dave Lundy, a second OPSEU board member for eastern Ontario, warned that if the changes proposed by the government are adopted the impact on pensions could be dramatic.
“There’s no question that the financial security of public sector workers in their retirement years is very much under threat if the government is allowed to wrest control of our members’ life savings away from them,” said Lundy.
In this year’s budget Finance minister Dwight Duncan put forward proposed changes to public sector pension plans that will see employees contributing more and smaller pension plans being “pooled” in a bid, the government claims, to reduce administrative costs. In other changes, where employers currently contribute more than employees the ratio will be reduced to a 50-50 cost-sharing arrangement.
The changes represent a stunning attack on a pension system that has been working smoothly, said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
“Since 1996 our members have controlled their contributions to the Ontario Pension Trust. This allowed us to have an effective hand in where that money was invested, reflecting our values and our members’ interests,” said Thomas.
“What the government is proposing is nothing less than a power grab over our members’ retirement savings, leaving us with no meaningful voice in the direction of pension investment. We will mount a very vigorous campaign to block this move every step of the way,” added Thomas.
The proposed changes by Queen’s Park will affect hundreds of thousands of contributors who currently work in the Ontario public service, LCBO, hospitals, municipalities and at community colleges across the province.
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