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Letter to Hon. Dorothy Shephard from Retiree J. Finigan

Hon. Dorothy Shephard MLA, Saint John Lancaster April, 28, 2011

Dear Ms. Shephard,

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the direction that this government is taking with regard to the PSSA retiree's plan and my disappointment with the government in the undemocratic manner in which it has chosen to achieve it's goal of balancing the books.

Let me first say that, while not an expert in pension plans, I have some knowledge of the PSSA and pension plans in general, completing training in Memeroncook and sitting on a Union pension Committee for three years. At that time, I was attempting to do something about what was , at the time, a 27% inequity between the PSSA Plan and most other NB provincial pension plans. This was supported by most MLA's (including PC MLA's), but no action was ever take.

I have read the government's pension reform proposal, have attended Finance Minister Higg's presentation, have read all available details and opinions on the proposed plan (including the concerns of the former Superintendent of Pensions). I have conducted my own research, reviewing the pension actuarial reports and NB Financial Reports over several years. I have viewed Legislature debates on this pension model, reviewed contracts and information provided from the Human Resources Dep't over the years and I have reviewed letters and articles from members of the NB Pension Coalition.

My strong opinion from this experience is that this government is engaging in an unwise, immoral and illegal activity in making a switch to the Shared Responsibility Pension Plan – particularly for retirees, who have based their financial plans on what they were told was a strong plan and who are largely unable to make adjustments to even short-term changes in the plan.

Aside from the insulting and devious strategies this government has employed to achieve it's goal (i.e. No real consultation, vague and one-sided information, scapegoating civil servants for being the cause of the province's financial problems, etc) closer examination of the Dutch model indicates potential problems and further study needs to be addressed.

Ms. Shephard, your riding represents a very large number of PSSA members and PSSA and Teacher retirees and their families, who, as they realize what is at stake, are becoming incensed by the government's actions.

As a psychologist, I am well aware of the effects that these significant stressors play on the health of individuals – particularly senior citizens. I have no doubt that, as retirees become more aware of the facts, that the PC party will be strongly negatively impacted by this government's strategies and direction. I know that many individuals like myself, are considering leaving New Brunswick and that , despite Bill 20, are prepared to take legal action as far as needed – even to the point of requesting international intervention to stop this illegal and undemocratic government action.

I would ask you to reconsider your position, represent your constituents and to demand a change of direction from Premier Alward. These pension changes are being pushed through for the wrong reasons (Premier's attempt to appear to balance the books), by the wrong people (large business and outside financial interests) and in an undemocratic fashion (Bill 20). These actions break decades of contracts and diminish constituent’s trust and belief in government. The Finance Minister has publicly stated that there is no immediate financial threat, so further review and a “free vote”should not be a threat.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and I am looking forward to your response.

James Finigan, Saint John