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Tapestry of Despair - M. Lavigne

(Note: this letter to the editor was written by Maurice Lavigne)

Tapestry of Despair

The Alward government has woven a tapestry of despair as a lead in to the introduction of radical changes to the retirees pension contract. If you believe the spin, New Brunswickers are in for dire consequences if nothing is done to get the deficit under control. We all agree the deficit should be reigned in but at what cost?

Suggested changes to the pension contract would allow the government to rid itself of the pension liability, while allowing for a reduction in pension benefits. In simpler terms, this means a possible cut in salary for some
13,000 retirees. There are some retirees who are ready to accept a cut in salary to help the government reduce the deficit. But most can not afford the double blow of anticipated tax increases and a cut in salary.

The deficit spin reveals an unsettling trend: the government is bad at deficit reduction and even worse at job creation. The economy is stagnating and some New Brunswickers and provincial media are targeting government retirees who are often compared to workers at the Fraser and Ste-Anne-Nackawick Pulp Mills who lost big when their employers declared bankruptcy. A very unfortunate situation which should be condoned by no one.

This is not an example to follow. Civil servants signed an agreement with their employer. They paid into the pension plan for many years expecting government to honour its commitment. The pension plan is in good financial shape regardless of the the government’s inability to manage money and despite the severe the economic slowdown.

All this hype about the provincial government going the same route as Italy and Greece is a sham. Historically provincial governments do not go bankrupt. They raise taxes and cut services. And now they have adopted a new and shameful strategy of reneging on a long standing contract with their former employees.

This course of action will only lead to more mistrust of government and additional divisions within the population. What we expect of government is a plan to move New Brunswick forward towards a goal of sustainable self sufficiency. None of this can be found in the plan to dishonour the pension contract with former government employees.

Maurice Lavigne
NB Pension Coalition
186 Lincoln Road
Fredericton, NB
E3B 2A3