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Letter to Premier Alward reminding "My Word is My Contract" promise

May 6, 2013

Hon. David Alward Premier of New Brunswick

(Attachment - "My Word is my Contract - D. Alward)

Premier Alward,

Angry pensioners who have voiced their concerns to the government’s public sector pension reforms will not go away, nor will we be silenced.

This letter will serve to clarify the concerns and fears raised at your sessions and elsewhere and serve as our response to your invitation to submit written questions.

It has been, and continues to be, the position of the retired Public Service Superannuation and Teacher’s Pension Plan members that all reforms should be implemented on a “go forward” basis.  Retired plan members have completed their work careers and are unable to make compensating adjustments to their income, such as returning to work.

It has been a legal principle almost everywhere in Canada that pension reforms may not reduce already earned benefits to retired plan members.  You are well aware of this because your Task Force warned you that extreme legislative measures would be required to overcome that legal obstacle.

Your government has accused the Pension Coalition of spreading misinformation to PSS and TP members and the public.  We would like to make it perfectly clear that Pension Coalition NB has never spoken against the need for pension plan improvements.  It is, however, your approach to the reform of pension plans for public sector retirees that has resulted in the expression of concern and fear by plan members and which led to the formation of the Coalition.  No government or private sector employer who is interested in introducing positive change would proceed the way your government has on the pension issue.  It is our belief that government can still find a solution that honours its pension commitments to its retirees and still meet your objective.   We remind you that retirees of the PSSA and TPA are taxpayers too.  We pay ever increasing property taxes, will be impacted by the coming increases in personal income tax and are significant payers of sales taxes and other fees and taxes.  We are real people who just happen to be retired government employees.  We form an important demographic in this Province and we contribute a large proportion of your tax dollars and other revenues.

You have asked through the Minister of Finance, for our questions so you can educate us.  We respond by saying we do not see the point of asking more questions. We have submitted 24 formal requests for information over the past few months and received only one reply.  We have written to you personally twice with no replies.  We have asked our questions, raised our concerns for several months and all we get are bits of information and only if we ask the right probing question.  This is NOT transparency and we are not stupid people.  Our members have many years of government experience and know the facts.  Giving only partial answers is not satisfactory.  We know when something is wrong especially when legislation has to be introduced to legalize your actions by legislating the ability to take away the recognized rights of retirees.

In order to help you understand our position and the reasons for our concerns, we are attaching to this letter a few examples of misleading information you and your officials have stated.  This should help to reinforce why our trust in your government is so low and why you must adopt a “go forward” approach to restore our confidence in our former employer.

Unlike our previous letters to you, where we stated we would not go public with our concerns, but await your reply, we will be making this letter public immediately.

 Bill Ayer/Bonny Hoyt-Hallett Pension Coalition NB Co-Chairs

Cc: Minister of Finance Min. Blaine Higgs    

Liberal Leader              Brian Gallant    

NDP Leader                  Dominic Cardy    

Green Party Leader          David Coon