Time for Wall government to address pension problem
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) released an open letter to Premier Wall urging his government to protect taxpayers by finishing pension reform initiated by the NDP government of Allan Blakeney in the last 1970s.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Blakeney government recognized the risky and costly nature of the defined-benefit pensions offered to provincial employees. As a result, most new employees were put in a less costly and less risky type of plan called “defined- contribution.” Existing employees were allowed to remain in the old plan.
However, there are still pockets of provincial employees that continue to be added to old, risky plans.
“We’re seeing big problems with many government employee pension plans in the province and the taxpayer keeps getting called on to bail them out,” said CTF Prairie Director Colin Craig.
“That’s not fair. The premier needs to take the lead on this issue and initiate pension reform for government employees to protect taxpayers.”
The CTF is calling on the government to do three things:
1) Take a page out of former NDP Premier Alan Blakeney’s play book and put all new employees in every part of government into less costly and less risky defined-contribution pension plans. Doing such would impact provincial judges, health care workers and University of Regina non-academic employees to name a few employees groups.
2) Raise eligibility rates and reform benefits instead of asking taxpayers to put in more and more money into the old type of plans that cover many existing govern- ment employees. Follow New Brunswick’s lead for “targeted-benefit” clauses for existing plans.
3) Push provincial government-funded organizations such as municipalities to pursue pension reform as well. If provincial MLAs can get by with more modest pensions, then so can other government employees.
The CTF noted pension changes initiated by the government in June 2013 merely kick the pension problem can down the road.
“If the NDP has done it, and if businesses are already doing it, why can’t the Sask Party do it?” questioned Craig.