Today, after public meetings were held around the Province where outraged pensioners turned out in thousands, the Coalition has sent a strongly worded letter and attachment to Premier David Alward. These documents are also being made public today.
Pension Coalition NB Co-Chair Bill Ayer said the letter points to the misleading information that has been provided by government. “We know this government is trying to divide and conquer New Brunswickers by providing misinformation and by playing with words. This is unethical and wrong and it has to stop,” he added.
Co-chair Bonny Hoyt-Hallett said pensioners felt that their concerns have been ignored by the government and they wanted to make it clear they are not about to be silenced. “At the public meetings, Minister Higgs asked us to send him a list of questions but we have already made 24 requests for information without response. As well, two letters to the Premier – neither of which we made public – have gone unanswered,” said Hoyt-Hallett. “The time has now come to clearly express our concerns in a public forum and refute the myths that government is spreading.”
Hoyt-Hallett said the Pension Coalition has never spoken against the need for pension improvements, and pointed out that the original focus of the Pension Task Force was supposed to be finding ways to enable private companies to set up pension funds for their employees.
The letter from Pension Coalition NB contains an attachment entitled “My Word is My Contract”. The document details myths and realities with respect to the pension fund, and the contradictory messages and misinformation given out. As well, it points to the fact that although the Pension Task Force was supposed to submit a report to government, no such report exists.
Co-Chair Bill Ayer said the government’s own public accounts of March 31, 2012 show the PSSA fund having a surplus of $140.1million. “How is it possible, that one day later – according to government’s own presentation to retirees – the fund is in a deficit of $1.0 billion?“
The letter also notes it has been a legal principle almost everywhere in Canada that pension reforms may not reduce already earned benefits to retired plan members, and that the Alward government is well aware of this because the Pension Task Force warned them that extreme legislative measures would be required to overcome that legal obstacle.