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Public-sector pensions in peril

Re: Government unions’ false pension assumptions, By Mark Milke, Red Deer Advocate, April 24

The Fraser Institute’s Mark Milke claims the Tory government’s Bill 9 will “lightly modify” pensions for retired public-sector employees. If that’s the case, I would hate to see what he considers a major cutback.

Bill 9, the Public Sector Pension Plans Amendment Act, will have a devastating effect on hundreds of thousands of Albertan retirees. In fact, the bill’s provisions are even more severe than expected.

This bill all but ensures pensioners’ income will not keep up with inflation, which means that as time goes by, they will slip further and further into poverty.

Furthermore, contrary to everything the government (and its pension cheerleader Milke) has said to date, Bill 9 gives the cabinet the authority to unilaterally change the way pension benefits are calculated, potentially cutting seniors’ incomes even more drastically.

The bill also sets out rules that would give the government total control over how public-sector pensions are run, without any regard for the hard-working employees who contribute to the plans and depend on them after they leave the workforce.

It even allows the government to make changes retroactive, affecting the pensions of current retirees.

Adding insult to injury, Bill 9 shields the government from being sued by members who lose benefits as a result of the transition to the new pension regime, effectively giving it the green light to do as it pleases while pensioners must bear all the consequences.

Bill 9 was introduced after no meaningful consultation with stakeholders, despite promises from Finance Minister Doug Horner that the employers and unions affected would have input.

For years, we have been hearing dire warnings from governments and financial experts about a looming crisis of impoverished senior citizens and drastically reduced pension income. At the same time Milke, the Fraser Institute and other right-wing propagandists are lobbying to slash the incomes of hundreds of thousands of retirees.

Bill 9 will drive more retirees into poverty, which means more senior citizens will be forced to seek government financial aid. How does this make economic sense?

Guy Smith

President

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees

Edmonton

 
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