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Email to Jack Carr - MLA from Richard Ingram

Jack, we've seen the latest polls and can relate to the reason for them.  Judy is committed to not voting PC next election whereas I'm on the fence, holding out to see what the future will bring.

You have been a great MLA and you're a great guy, but your leader has chosen to arbitrarily reduce NB civil service pensions all in the guise of controlling NB's deficit. He may deny the above statement but if one looks at the facts it leads to complete dissonance of responsibility. Some of those key facts are:

1.    The legislative introduction of an “immunity clause” to shield government from any litigation by those receiving a pension.

2.    The move to close out the NB Investment Management Corporation (NBIMC) and move pension investment interests out-of-province. This is a significant indicator of the Premier's intention to remove the PSSA from the books. Why would anyone choose to layoff 25-30 professionals that consistently perform well above average in the field of pension investment in Canada. All of these people work, pay taxes, buy cars, clothes, and many have children. So there can be no other reason for moving this operation to Bay Street other than the sole purpose of wanting pensions off government books. We do not have many shining lights in NB these days, do you think we could keep something working extremely well in NB instead of offloading it to Bay Street? In a follow-up question, is there any connection between the out-of-province venture and some subsidiary company of Susan Rowland. These days I am suspect of many things government does. 

3.    A shift in governance from NBIMC to something looking like jurisdictional representation as opposed to the current competency-based representation. Not a good idea Jack. Would you be comfortable in letting someone with no financial expertise manage your personal money? I think not. Many have tried this, including many unions, and the net results were not good.

4.    In regards to risk management, I have yet been convinced government's actuarial figures specified an exact dollar value or date when the pension plan will go bust. If there is such a figure or date, please share it with me. All appearances given NBIMC's recent report indicates the pension is doing fine at this point in time. Is possible the Premier and advisors are pushing the panic button too soon?

5.    MLA’s draw their pensions directly from general revenue, regardless of the market situation. This doesn't look very good to the public.  Not only will Judy and I both receive less (and there is no guarantee in place that says not only will our Cost of Living index be decreased or eliminated, but also that our base benefit will no longer be guaranteed), but we will incur the same increases that all citizens of our province do when the price of energy, groceries, taxes, health care and whatever else he can think of increasing or eliminating comes into effect in the not to distant future. We still consider very strongly that our employer is attempting to break a contract we signed so many years ago.

Times have always been tough for New Brunswickers compared to other provinces.  Our kids are leaving in droves, our tax base is disappearing and soon all there will be in NB are three cities and the woods in the rest of the province - and it will become too expensive to live here on a pension.  Not only will our kids continue to leave, our pensioners will also have to find a cheaper place to reside – where will the tax base be then?

Few pensioners are rich.   The average annual income of a retired civil servant is $21,000.  Some have budgeted carefully over the years to make sure they had a little more set aside to help with the extras they enjoy on occasion, but when the Premier decides to reduce what you have legally and rightfully set aside so you could enjoy retirement, and you can no longer afford an occasional luxury because of increased costs and reduced income and because it is necessary to contribute to the basic well being of your unemployed kids from your reduced livelihood, it's very possibly time for new leadership. Things are becoming very awkward for Alward.

If I may suggest, in this age of technology, it's time for some out of the box thinking.   Do something to keep our youth working here in our province. Be aggressive on a youth strategy program. The Premier's son is not going to get a job working as a pipefitter in this province anytime soon unless he knows someone that can pull the appropriate strings to net him employment.  There isn't enough work to keep him employed 12 months or at least 10 months of the year. 

The problem therein exists when determining who is best suited to turn this plummeting engine around? I am still on the fence.

At the moment the future economic outlook for New Brunswickers is sad!  Even sadder is your government’s decision to cancel the Province’s contract with previous employees who spent years giving their lives to the best interests of our citizens.

It's evident with the recent turn out at the round the province meetings being held by the pension coalition, that pensions for retirees still remains at the forefront despite the summer break for politicians.

Richard Ingram