Public Mobilization Sends Conservatives Back to Drawing Board on Pensions

Government Hearings Provide Opportunity for Discussion of Real Retirement Security

EDMONTON – Contentious legislation that could ruin the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Albertans is off the table … for now.

Bills 9 and 10 — which respectively target public-sector and private-sector defined-benefit plans — will not be passed by the legislature during its current sitting, but will instead be referred to the Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future, and will be subject to public hearings. The Bills are expected to return to the legislature for the fall sitting.

“It’s clear that Albertans are making themselves heard. They’ve stood up for their pensions. They’ve let their MLAs know that these Bills are unacceptable,” Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan said. “Together, the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on these plans have made the government pause. Now we have to keep working together to stop the attack on defined-benefit plans.”

The Bills, if passed, would have undermined the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Albertans by allowing the conversion of modest, stable defined-benefit pensions to less-stable ones. What's more, the Bills would have allowed employers to target benefits already earned.

Since pension legislation was added to the government’s agenda in September, thousands of Albertans have educated themselves on the issues, have visited their MLAs, have participated in rallies at workplaces, have written letters to Premiers Redford and Hancock, have signed petitions, and have protested at the legislature. Alberta’s workers and retirees have found allies like Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties.

“This is democracy in action,” McGowan said. “We’re pleased that the government has acknowledged the need for more consultation and for a more careful review of the evidence and options.”

During the hearings, the Alberta Federation of Labour will urge the government to help the more than 70 per cent of Albertans who have no workplace pension plan and who are facing an insecure retirement. A good place to start would be for the Premier to support the reasonable expansion of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) that is supported by almost every other Canadian province

“The Alberta Federation of Labour and its affiliated member unions look forward to participating in the committee hearings,” McGowan said. “We look forward to reminding policymakers of the important role that defined-benefit pension plans play in ensuring retirement security for Albertans.”

McGowan is at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Convention in Montreal along with members of the coalition including Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Alberta) President Marle Roberts, United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) president Heather Smith, and Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) president Elisabeth Ballermann. They will be available today by phone.



Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell)
or via e-mail
[email protected]

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