Hands off the pensions

Hands off the pensions Open letter to Finance Minister Dennis Fentie: I write on behalf of every Yukoner who is concerned the federal government plans to use the excuse of the current economic crisis and the recent federal deficit to weaken federal and t

Open letter to Finance Minister Dennis Fentie:

I write on behalf of every Yukoner who is concerned the federal government plans to use the excuse of the current economic crisis and the recent federal deficit to weaken federal and territorial public-service pensions.

Instead of cutting pension plans, I would urge Ottawa to do more to ensure every worker has access to a decent pension plan that will allow them to live in dignity in their retirement years.

To my mind, the best way to accomplish this goal is pretty clear: 1) expand the Canada Pension Plan for the 93 per cent of Canadians who are already members; and 2) refrain from using the pension plans of public-sector workers as a convenient scapegoat for federal fiscal belt-tightening.

In the words of the Yukon’s biggest public-sector unions, the Yukon Employees’ Union and the Public Service Alliance of Canada, “we need to protect pension plans that actually work and improve retirement security for all. Hands off our pensions!”

As most Yukon government pensions are still controlled by Ottawa, I strongly urge you to take that message directly to your federal counterpart, Jim Flaherty, and Stockwell Day, the president of the Treasury Board, who has failed to date to provide any assurances the federal government has no plans to weaken public pension plans.

A decent pension plan is a key element in attracting new employees into the public service. This is especially important in the northern territories.

There is a looming recruitment crisis for the public sector as baby boomers retire. One crucial factor in attracting skilled workers to the public sector is a stable and predictable pension income.

As politicians, we should all be working as hard as we can to protect all pensions, regardless of whether they are publicly or privately funded.

Steve Cardiff, NDP MLA,

Mount Lorne