The NLEC has been in the media recently taking exception to the NL Public Sector Pensioners Coalition’s (NLSPC) calls for increased pension benefits. The NLPSPC has said they intend to make this an election issue. The NLEC believes this request amounts to calls for special treatment of one group at the expense of all tax payers in the province.
Information released publicly by the Public Sector Pensioners’ Coalition is misleading. These pensioners receive defined benefit pensions, some of which are indexed to inflation, that most taxpayers in this province will never have the benefit of receiving. This group is receiving exactly what is entitled to them based on what they contributed to their pension when they were employed.
Most private sector employers are unable to offer similar pension plans, as they are extremely expensive. The Auditor General has raised his concern about the unfunded nature of the Pooled Public Sector Pension Fund, despite government having put $4.4 billion in special contributions to the pension fund since 1997. Even with those contributions, currently, the unfunded pension liability represents $2.2 billion. The unfunded nature of their pension does not impact what is received by pensioners. It does, however, impact what taxpayers have to pay to fund the existing pensions. Taxpayers of this province cannot afford the current obligations, let alone increasing that liability, as is suggested by the public sector pensioner’s coalition.
If there is an issue with seniors making ends meet in this province, then government’s responsibility is equal among all citizens. Public Sector Pensioners do not deserve preferred treatment at the expense of non-public sector workers.
Listen to a CBC Radio Noon Crosstalk interview with Richard Alexander on this topic.