Time for Wall gov­ern­ment to ad­dress pen­sion prob­lem

Southwest Booster - - OPINION - THE CANA­DIAN TAX­PAY­ERS FED­ER­A­TION

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.

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