Pension Crisis Continued

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  • With all due respect Mark, no one is ‘choosing’ to fund anybody’s pension when they purchase a product or service. The fact that I buy a car from Ford or General Motors does not mean I’m endorsing the labour contracts those companies have entered into. The provincial government competes in the market place for labour like any other employer, and like any other employer they have to offer a mix of wages and benefits required to attract the labour they require. The government has the ability to reduce the wages and benefits they offer if they wish, but Nova Scotian’s are fond of their free education and health care and people won’t provide these services if you don’t pay them for their labour.

    Mike | March 18, 2011 | Reply

  • With all due respect, Mr. Gilke, the major fundamental difference between your PSSP and my private retirement savings is that you get to choose whether or not to fund my retirement by purchasing the services or products of my company or choosing those of a competitor. I, on the other hand, have no choice as to whether or not I fund your retirement or the retirements savings/pension of any other public employee. This is particularly true if you are employed in an area of government that has a monopoly on service delivery, e.g. health or energy/power.

    Mark | February 18, 2011 | Reply

  • It seems that our politicians, like Steele , are not paying very much attention to the fact that taxpayers are really getting annoyed at just how much secrecy there really is when it comes to telling taxpayers where our tax dollars are being spent. When it comes to pensions, a majority of taxpayers likely do not have a pension. Now that they hear how lucrative are the public sector pensions, they want to know how that can be. When they see government pouring in millions to take care of an under funding of a pension fund, they want to better understand why they, the taxpayer, have to carry that whole burden, and why not some of burden falls to the employees. It gets worse , as now the taxpayers are finding that the civil servants have a pension plan, the teachers have one, the nurses have one and on and on . It gets worse because these pensions are all different when it comes to their annual cost of living increases but also when it comes to things like the co-pay for their prescriptions. And that these plans also have a survivor feature whereby when the pensioner dies, the spouse continues to get some of that pension and maybe all of the health plan benefits.
    We need Steele to open the books and start to show taxpayers just where our money is going. Today’s computer power is such that it’s not a big deal to start producing numbers and charts on web pages.
    We like to brag about things like how many visitors come to NS every year , but we don’t do any bragging about how many tourism businesses have closed, and jobs lost because of decisions like were made to cancel the CAT ferry.
    Steele doesn’t get it. He has many high priced bureaucrats that he should be managing and certainly he should be measuring the productivity and the cost of every department. These ministers are really running a “head office”. You don’t ask your branch offices how much they would like to cut their expenses, you tell them .

    P Sheehan | February 10, 2011 | Reply

  • I’m a relative newcomer to Nova Scotia and proud of it. As such, I enter the conversation in a learning mode. I am sympathetic to both sides of the debate, but cannot help but wonder if we are attempting to perpetuate a privilege, or entitlement, that our sons and daughters may not be able to sustain. If the demographic trends continue as predicted, and we continue to commit ourselves to future benefits in spite of it, then shame on us. Stay with the numbers and the data, it will tell the story. Then let’s make wise decisions.

    Dwight | February 10, 2011 | Reply

  • As a recipient of a PSSP pension I am in full agreement with the comments of Alistair Watt. It should be noted that people who do not have a pension were able to make greater contributions to a RRSP whereas those on pension plans had to deduct the annual pension contribution from the eligible RRSP contribution. This greatly reduced the amount one could accumulate in a RRSP.

    As I have said in a previous comment, it is not the fault of those who have paid into pension plans that the plans were not allowed to continue to grow as the markets blossomed. Had the surplus cap not been applied, most plans would have been in much better shape. As it is, much of the losses of recent years should have been recovered by now as the markets rebound. Now is the time for the Federal Government to remove the 10% surplus cap so that the funds can ride on the advances of the markets. And clearly, if those who project expected lifespans got it wrong in the past, new calculations should be done and future pension negotiations should reflect the new reality. But this should not be retroactive to those who contracted in good faith to work for the benefit of the people of Nova Scotia.

    We must realize that all forms of retirement funding eventually comes out of the pockets of the public. The multi-million dollar golden handshakes to executives are paid out of company profits which are dollars out of the pockets of those who purchase the products of the enterprises, including “our neighbours, most of whom have no plan at all”.

    Ron Gilkie

    Ron Gilkie | February 9, 2011 | Reply

  • I am a recipient of a PSSP pension.I do not understand how Bill can characterize a contribution by pensioners of $1 billion as meaningless. He wants ALL of the $1.5 billion to come from the pensioners, and none from the other partner in the plan: the provincial government.
    Moreover, at least twice during my employment, we were returned our contributions for an entire year, because FEDERAL law will not allow surpluses to remain in the plan. That is plain foolishness, but it is federal foolishness, not provincial.
    Of course I am not pleased that the plan I paid into for my working life has now reduced the benefits, but I am even more annoyed that Bill misrepresents that contribution to the problem as being insufficient. Pensioners are putting in twice as much as the employer, and Bill refuses to acknowledge that.
    Also, I resent his Item 3, which compares pensioners to people who have no pension, as if that reflects badly upon pensioners – all of whom contributed to their pension. You can’t have it both ways, Bill. That comparison is a cheap and unworthy shot. It is exactly that kind of silliness that reduces the impact of anything sensible you (or the Herald) might have to say.
    I am wholly in support of reasonable debate on these serious issues, but the frequent misrepresentations and attacks in defiance of logic reduce the debate to mere posturing. I believe that you can do better than that, and I call upon you to rise to a higher level of discourse.

    Alistair Watt | February 8, 2011 | Reply

    • Alistair thank you for your comment. In my postings I have acknowledged that people in your position have understandably been both surprised and disappointed to find out that benefits could be suddenly changed. And I have not pretended that the change was meaningless. But it was not sufficient to solve the problem. The people who have paid for the other third are not some facelss government. It is your neighbours , most of whom have no plan at all.

      Bill

      Bill | February 8, 2011 | Reply