Posts tagged ‘Pension’

January 15, 2016

An important point regarding pension changes in proposed contract

I recently received an email that made an important point about the changes to our pension plan in the proposed contract:

Hello again, Robert

Read your last article “…a hollow victory for unions“.
I think it would have been useful if you had added that the increase in deductions to the teachers pension plan would “consume”, according to my calculations, 72% of any increase proposed by the government (at least for anyone earning more than $54,900). That means, for the 1% increase in salary offered in the agreement, the real increase is only 0.28%. For the 2% increase offered, the real increase would be 0.58%.
With the other increases (CPP, EI, drug plan), the real increases would go further down to real zero or actual reductions in salary. It is understandable that higher absolute values of pensions payments require higher contributions, but most regular folks should be aware of the real numbers before they go to vote for the new agreement.
And you were talking about increases to cover inflation!
October 27, 2015

Measuring up to the Rest of Canada Part 1: Quebec vs New Brunswick

October 25, 2015

Those present at the meeting for the Montreal Teachers Association’s strike vote heard a number of remarkable things from our union leadership. QPAT’s chief negotiator, Olivier Dolbec, for example described the various times teachers had been legislated back to work as victories in which teachers came out ahead. Dolbec’s central piece of evidence for this claim was that the back-to-work legislation of 2005 won us our current limits on class size.

This might be an interesting point if it were true. In fact the current limits on class size were the central element in the 2010 negotiations that convinced teachers to vote in favour of a negotiated settlement. The 2005 strike resulted in teachers being legislated back to work with the exact provisions government had put on the table prior to the strike. In other words, this strike did absolutely nothing to move government from what it was intending to do all along. One would think that QPAT’s chief negotiator would have his facts straight on such matters.

As if this was not enough to cast serious doubt on the judgement and integrity of our chief negotiator, Mr Dolbec then stunned the room with this remarkable statement:

“This is – and I challenge anyone in the room to say the opposite – this is the best collective agreement for teachers AROUND THE WORLD”

WHS teacher Robert Lavoie has taken up Mr Dolbec’s challenge. In this the first of a multi-part series Mr Lavoie presents a thorough comparison of the collective agreement of Quebec’s teachers with that of New Brunswick’s.

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May 16, 2015

Podcast: The impacts of austerity for students and teachers in Quebec’s public schools

May 16, 2015

The Liberal government’s proposed austerity measures have some very serious consequences for students and teachers in Quebec’s public schools. In addition to the insulting salary offer to teachers and the proposal to raid our pensions there are a number of measures that will directly affect students:

  • 20150507_133640

    Teachers and parents protest austerity in front of Westmount High

    removal of limits on class size

  • removal of the weighting system for special needs students
  • cutting the funding for resource teachers that help special needs students
  • cutting funding for after school homework programs
  • cuts to support staff including child care workers and special ed technicians

Robert Green discusses the impacts of these proposed policies with CJAD’s Tommy Shnurmacher:

Click here to download mp3

February 8, 2015

602$ de moins par année pour les retraités de l’État

By Marco Fortier | Published Feb 7, 2015 by Le Devoir

Les 540 000 employés de l’État perdraient en moyenne 602 $ par année en revenus de retraite avec une des mesures proposées par le gouvernement Couillard, selon les calculs du front commun syndical.

Le président du Conseil du trésor, Martin Coiteux, compte désormais calculer les revenus de retraite des employés de l’État en fonction de leurs revenus gagnés sur huit ans plutôt que sur cinq ans, comme c’est le cas actuellement. Conséquence : au moment de sa retraite, un syndiqué qui gagne 48 000 $ par année (salaire moyen des fonctionnaires en excluant les cadres, les médecins et les policiers, notamment) toucherait 602 $ de moins annuellement qu’avec le régime actuel, indiquent des données compilées par des actuaires syndicaux.

Un employé qui gagne 40 000 $ perdrait 502 $, tandis qu’un salaire annuel de 70 000 $ entraînerait une perte de 879 $ au moment de la retraite, selon les chiffres syndicaux.

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August 28, 2014

Workers not to blame for Quebec pension problem

By Don Pittis | Published Aug 22, 2014 by CBC News

A deal’s a deal, right? Well, not when it comes to the province of Quebec and the pensions of its municipal employees.

And if Quebec gets away with cutting municipal worker pensions, which have been eaten away through mismanagement by the very people doing the cutting, then watch this phenomenon spread. 

Quebec is pulling a Detroit. About a year ago, I pointed out that the shattered dreams of Detroit pensioners should be a warning to the rest of us. But unlike Detroit, Quebec is trying to snatch back promised pension money by fiat through its proposed Bill 3 pension reform legislation, without the inconvenient legal process of bankruptcy.

No wonder the municipal workers are protesting.

To read many of the stories about these Quebec pension cuts you would think that it was the pensioners’ fault. The same kind of thing happened in Detroit. Outraged taxpayers inveigh against government employees for sucking money out of the public purse for a cushy retirement. It’s as if by choosing a job with a pension and keeping to their side of the contract, the workers are taking advantage.

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April 12, 2012

Death by a thousand cuts: Teachers, airline workers and Canada’s public pensions

By Roger Annis, published April 12, 2012 at

B.C. teachers defend education

Currently, the 41,000 members of the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) are locked in a bitter collective bargaining dispute with the provincial Liberal government. On the table is a two-year salary freeze that the government is seeking to impose and the right to bargain, class sizes and other aspects of teachers’ work in the classroom.

The first action took place at the beginning of the school year, last September, when teachers refused to participate in voluntary activities and co-operate with administrators, including filling out report cards. When the government announced it would impose a draconian law to strip away the right to strike and send disputed issues to a skewed mediation process, teacher resistance escalated into a three-day strike March 5 to 7.

Regardless, Bill 22 was passed into law on March 17. It says “mediation” must correspond to the government’s guideline of a two-year, “net zero” increase to education spending. It also imposes stiff penalties on the union and individual teachers for strikes and related actions.

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April 6, 2012

Stephen Harper just took over $22,000 from my retirement!

By Robert Green

The Conservative Government’s recent decision to raise the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) from 65 to 67 may not seem like a big deal to many Canadians.  After all we are living longer than ever before and the eligibility is only being increased by 2 years.

Stephen Harper is certainly hoping that most Canadians will have such an apathy-producing response. He doesn’t want us to examine this too closely, for doing so reveals this policy to be not only unnecessary but carrying with it serious individual and social costs.

According to the Conservative party, this change is a necessary bit of belt-tightening that must be done to ensure the sustainability of the program. When asked by a local reporter about the hardships this change will cause for the large number of retired manual workers in Guysborough County Nova Scotia, Conservative MP Peter Mackay stated, “That is exactly why we need to make these changes to ensure that there is sustainable OAS in the future”. People must accept hardships now or else in the future there will be …hardships. In other words we should get used to more hardships on an ongoing basis.

However, as recently as February the federal government’s independent Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page reported that the existing program is not only sustainable but the government even has room to increase its spending without jeopardizing the sustainability of the program.

So what then does this program of questionable necessity mean for Canadians? Part of that question was answered by CAW economist Jim Stanford in his article “How Much Will YOU Lose from OAS Deferral??“. This is the article where I learned that as a 39-year-old, this move by Harper’s Conservatives is likely to have removed about $22,310 from my retirement. Consult the table to the right to see how much you just lost.

Stanford speculates that the disproportionate targeting of the young that this move entails is a deliberate conservative strategy aimed at avoiding the kinds of protests by seniors that derailed Mulroney’s attempt to undermine the public pension system in the 1980’s. It also conveniently avoids exacting costs on older voters who are a core constituency for the Conservatives.

But far more worrisome than its implications for an individual with a public sector pension such as myself,  are its implications for our society’s most vulnerable. In his analysis of the federal budget Bruce Campbell of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives cites pension expert Michael Wolfson’s calculation that if this change were brought in today, “the number of seniors below the poverty line would increase from 50,000 to 220,000– representing a more than doubling of Canada’s poverty rate”.

Similarly, this move has serious implications for Canadians with disabilities. This problem was described by Harry Wolbert in a recent op-ed for the Winnipeg Sun. According to Wolbert, 45 to 60% of Canadians receiving  social assistance have a disability. Because OAS coupled with the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) provides a far greater income than social assistance many Canadians with disabilities look forward to turning 65 as a reprieve from the conditions of poverty that a disproportionate amount of Canadians with disabilities endure for most of their lives. Harper’s move will force Canadians with disabilities to continue to endure this unjust situation for another two years.

If indeed there was a crisis in the sustainability of the program, one could understand such a move. However, in the absence of credible evidence that the program is unsustainable one is left with only one other explanation for this policy: ideology. Over his long political career Stephen Harper has not been bashful about expressing his disdain for Canada’s social safety net. This is just one more step in Harper’s drive to fundamentally transform Canada.

That is why having $22,310 taken from my retirement is even more infuriating; I know that as long as right-wing ideologues such as Harper are in power this added government revenue will not go to the sorts of things I value. It will not go to expanding access to affordable health care and  education or to protecting the environment or reducing inequality. It will be spent on prisons, fighter jets and ever more tax cuts for corporations and the rich.

This is why, when it comes to Stephen Harper, Canadians need to pay very close attention.

January 27, 2012

Raising The Retirement Age Is The Wrong Way To Deal With The Retirement Crisis

The CCPA responds to Harper’s musings in Davos about raising the retirement age

“Raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security/Guaranteed Income Supplement (OAS/GIS) benefits is the worst possible way to deal with the retirement income security crisis facing Canadians.

Experts such as former Assistant Chief Statistician Michael Wolfson project that one half of all middle income baby boomers face a severe cut to their living standards in old age. This is due to falling employer pension coverage (down to 25% in the private sector), rising household debt combined with low savings, and the big hit to “fend for yourself” RRSPs which comes from high fees and low investment returns.

The right way to deal with this looming crisis is to expand the Canada Pension Plan now to raise incomes for seniors in the future.

The wrong way is to raise the retirement age for OAS/GIS.”

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