Northwest Territories takes pension clawbacks out of proposed law

Unionized workers in the North received some good news on February 19, 2015, when a motion was passed to delete clawbacks from a proposed pension bill.

Amendments came after PSAC and other unions lobbied for changes to ensure that pensions would be protected.

Bill 12, currently before the Northwest Territories legislature, deals with the Northern Employee Benefits Services (NEBS) pension plan, covering public sector workers and teachers in the North. An estimated 1,000 PSAC members participate in the plan.

Unions and retirees were worried that the bill would mean a reduction in benefits and allow pensions to be changed from “defined benefit” pensions to a “target benefit” plan. Target benefit pension plans provide lesser benefits and transfer more risk to the workers.

At the public meeting on Bill 12, MLAs overwhelmingly agreed to a defined benefit plan. MLA Wendy Bisaro introduced a motion to amend clause 15 of the bill regarding the reduction of benefits.

The bill is now set for a third reading in the legislative assembly later this year and if adopted, will become law.

Canadians are increasingly concerned about their retirement security as governments move to reduce pension benefits.

“Unions, including the PSAC, have been putting retirement security at the forefront,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC National President. “These legislative changes show that we can successfully fight to protect good pensions.”

PSAC is working with the Canadian Labour Congress campaign Retirement Security for Everyone, which proposes to improve pensions for all workers in Canada.

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February 27, 2015