Uncounted Costs

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  • Mr. Black believes that reforming the Teachers’ Pension Plan would solve most of the province’s financial problems!
    While he seems very sympathetic to later retirees (after 2006) who receive indexing only if the pension fund is healthy, he fails to mention that active teachers voted for that proposal in 2005 versus higher pension contributions. In fact, the Union held an unprecedented second vote to make this happen!
    Although, early retirees seem to have it all, it must be remembered that educators who began teaching in the late 60s and early 70s retiring pre-2006, had much lower salaries for pensionable purposes than current teachers. Since pensions are determined by your best five years, most early retirees have modest pensions.
    In addition, Teachers’ Pension Funds in those days were borrowed by the governments of the day at 2% when inflation was approximately 10% ! This must have contributed to the unfunded liability of the Teachers’ Pension Fund Mr. Black rails about sporadically.
    This same group of educators was unable to contribute to RRSPs until the mid 80s plus their salaries were kept low by The Cameron government’s two year wage freeze followed by the Liberals’ four days without pay in the 90s!
    Then the early retirement package (1994-98) agreed to by the NSTU and the government meant that retirees who had no voice at that table, would receive indexing equal to inflation less 1%. In an era of low inflation, early retirees have received little or no increase in their pensions while expenses escalate.
    Early retirees are truly dependent on the pensions they contributed to in good faith for thirty five years. Have the “courage” to pay them.

    Jean Llewellyn | December 23, 2014 | Reply

  • Bill…I think the Liberals have shown courage on a few fronts like big business handouts, taking a stand on fracking, and similar legacy issues from past governments. I am not saying I agree with their choices, but they took courage. As for the comments you made on teachers credentials and their pension plan, you are off the mark. In principal you have a point, but in the context of your article it is a bit of a cheap shot at a noble profession and a good education minister. We all know there are hundreds of high paid consultants working on government projects with resumes and credentials that are inflated beyond belief costing taxpayers far more for mountains of useless paper. How many lawyers work in government and have their bar fees paid by Joe Public but spend their days doing business administration work? As for the teacher’s pension, take a glimpse at what the average teacher’s salary and then look at their job entry requirements. Compare that to a list of other civil servants with little to no job entry requirements and you’ll quickly see their pension is a key element of a competitive total compensation package. It does have to be fixed, but singling it out as a leading cause of our economic woes is not only unfair but wrong.

    Barry | December 18, 2014 | Reply

    • Barry thanks for this. I have acknowledged your point on handouts a couple of times but I could have done so here as well.
      On credentials, I know of no other public or private field that systematically and permanently provides substantial pay increases for credentials that are not used.
      On pensions my point is actually that both taxpayers and today’s teachers are being unfairly dealt with. In what I propose the latter would actually have some prospect of indexing some day, and the long term possibility of a reduction in contributions.

      Bill | December 18, 2014 | Reply

  • Allow me to again argue for far more transparency of our provincial and municipal finances on our provincial and municipal websites . Both levels of government really show very little and then don’t try to make anything simple by adding graphs and charts to show history and current and future paths of revenues and expenses . We need to hear more in terms of ” the dollars per capita” and “per taxpayer”.
    People are worried . Yes they think they have tax decreases via their income tax due stop Ottawa but they know the taxes they pay provincially and municipally based are NOT decreasing. If we have such a smart bureaucracy why are they so unable to communicate ,or is it that they don’t want to, and is it because our politicians really can’t read financial statements or ask the right questions ? What is wrong when contracts like the Bluenose can get so over budget that no one knows until the media finds out ? What is wrong when contracts like the Yarmouth Ferry fall apart financially even before the first sailing ? Why are we just realizing that we have done nothing about rail transport , light rail passenger transit , and now the whole Cape Breton line ? Numbers are numbers and it looks like no one is watching anything . Too bad some one wouldn’t start a website where they could post the provincial and municipals finances in plain and simple terms/tables/ charts. Did Whalen or Stevie cancel any of the annual salary bonus payments yet ?? Let see Stevie be bold and publish all the government and government agency organization charts showing salary levels and we’ll show him where to cut real fast !!!

    Peter S | December 13, 2014 | Reply

  • The “uncounted costs” are outined somewhere deep in the budget. The expenses are running almost twice the revenues – without ‘help’ from federal transitions, which still don’t make up the difference, leaving the… debt.
    Courage here is not beyond the average voter. Just post a proper listing of where the money goes. When they see where and to whom it flows, they will more democraticly guide the elected members of where to cut.

    Gordon a... | December 12, 2014 | Reply

  • Several more examples (of the countless that are readily available) of why politics and even ordinary common sense, do not merge well.Sadly, improvement in that situation by the current (or any future) administration is very unlikely.

    bob mackenzie | December 12, 2014 | Reply

  • This is welcome information but certainly very discouraging.

    Bill | December 12, 2014 | Reply