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Commentary - Things are NOT as Susan Rowland suggested ...

(Note: The Coalition receives comments and concerns from retirees around the province. On occasion we may publish these on the website for others to see and share.)

Dear Clifford (Kennedy):

I think it is important for people to understand that this issue affects everyone in the province. Things are NOT as Susan Rowland suggested in Saturday's Telegraph Journal that "the coalition is spreading falsehoods and represents only a small minority of retirees."

We may have  isolated ourselves in this box by failing to realize that ours is an employment contract. There are in excess of 50,000 people in the province who have the same employment contract. Should all these people sue the province to enforce the terms of their contracts (which they are entitled to do) this will have a  SIGNIFICANT impact on the province. A judgement, whether that is obtained through the courts (as it must be for people who are not subject to collective bargaining)  or by labour relations tribunals for people whose terms of employment are established by collective agreement will be STAGGERING. Any amount awarded must be taken from the Consolidated Fund. That judgement will be the first charge on tax revenues which are deposited to the Consolidated Fund. Education, health care etc.

will be out the window, or at least take second place. In this province we have the rule of law. If the executive branch of government is going to act in complete disregard of its contractual obligations, the judicial branch is perfectly capable of intervening to remedy the situation. There is a process in place to remedy contractual disputes and determine what people are entitled to under the terms of those contracts.

People seem to think " this won't affect me." " We pay civil servants too much anyway." " I don't have a pension plan or mine didn't work out very well." These things are all irrelevant. If the executive  branch of government wants to ignore the problem altogether it will have DRASTIC consequences.

What is their defence to any legal action? Certainly can't be the pension fund doesn't have enough money or they are going to reduce your contractually earned benefits after the fact. None of these things will wash.

I'm not sure why people in government seem to think they have any defence to any of this or even that what they are doing is right. Its time to impress on people that they don't want to precipitate litigation. If they continue to suggest we have no case or we "have adopted the idea that if they get one cent less that they're somehow being cheated" (Susan Rowland again in today's Telegraph Journal) they are inviting disaster for us all.

Tell a judge that we have an attitude we are getting one cent less and that's your defence to all this. Then if he asks you if we really are being cheated by one cent then he will probably award one cent in our favour. That establishes they have NO defence.  Now turn to amount. Any new shared risk plan has NO ASSETS and NO members. How do they anticipate that a new shared risk plan will do anything for them?

Oh yes, they are going to take the  $10 billion trust fund money and turn it over to a new shared risk plan administrator. On top of that they are going to compel you to be a member of this new shared risk plan. How do they think that is going to happen? They are actually calling this process a "conversion" in the Pension Benefits Act. I'm not sure if they understand how apt in law this term is. Google the term "conversion legal definition". See what it means. "Any unauthorized act that deprives an owner of personal property without his or her consent".

Figure that the pension fund represents about 80% of what the province's liability is to teachers and public servants, that makes the amount $12.5 billion they must come up with. Figure also that this must be adjusted to represent an amount of money you must turn over to people today to meet your contractual obligation to them and it starts to multiply upward. Remember when they use the term unfunded liability that that is based on something.

Oh yes, that's the amount the province must come up with to meet its' contractual liability -ah,  there is a contract!! Seems somebody may actually have looked at it. They understand what its' terms are. They understand that it has a value. They also understand who  the parties to that  contract  are; that would be the province and you and me and 50,000 others just like you and me. I'm not suing the pension fund. It isn't a party to my contract. The pension fund isn't even a legal entity. That sinking fund (and that's essentially what the pension fund is) may have insufficient assets to pay the province's contractual obligations. So what.

The Consolidated Fund has a great deal of money. If the pension fund doesn't have enough money, whose fault is that? It is certainly NOT yours.

There are ways for the government to go forward, but they certainly need to adopt an attitude that is the reverse of what Susan Rowland thinks ours is.

They need to start asking themselves are we entitled to one cent more? Might it just be a tad more than that?  Think REALLY BIG. Start at $12.5 billion and go upward from there. What will that do for health care, education etc.

Remember the pension is simply deferred compensation. Compensation for having  provided those things in the first place. If people don't want them they may soon find out how they will make out without them altogether. Maybe I have  an attitude, but it sure sounds as though some others do as well.

They need to lose it and start looking at the issues. Listen to the voices of reason. Ask what those "reasons" are. Don't be calling people "liars", "money grabbers" people after "one cent more" and expect that any good may come of this.