Public Values

Campaign for protection of pensions, retirement security

Hot issues for federal budget, two unions use social networking to highlight concerns.

Pension benefits should not be used to pay down debt - unionsIn a campaign to ensure the upcoming federal budget protects pensions and retirement security for their members, two unions are joining forces to campaign for fairness for retirees. Both the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) have launched a on-line petition to be delivered to the Prime Minister prior to the announcement of the budget.

PSAC offers a number of information and resource links on its web site and urges their members to follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook as well as passing along the petition to others. There are a number of rallies planned across the country as well.

Statement by PIPSC president Gary Corbett:
While I don’t agree that public service employees "fear" the government’s possible plans for pension reform, I would certainly say that they are very wary indeed of any potential changes to their pension plan.

They, and the public, have been burned before – the Institute is currently before the Courts to recover the $30 billion in pension surplus funds seized by the federal government in 1999 to help pay down the national debt.

If the government's objectives are to reduce the public service's retirement rate in order to address its well-publicized staffing issues and to help pay down Canada's huge budget deficit, taking an axe to public sector pensions is definitely the wrong way to go.

They, along with benefits, are components of the overall compensation package provided to government employees in order for the public service to offer competitive recruitment and retention incentives.

The reality is that this strategy has not worked particularly well, and the private sector continues to attract scores of public sector workers. And this would certainly not be the case if government employees enjoyed huge salary and benefits advantages, as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) claims.

Regretfully, unions and the public service are easy targets and myths about "lazy" or "privileged" public servants are very difficult to dispel. Furthermore, in the current economic climate, organizations such as the CFIB seize the opportunity to present their views to a sympathetic federal government and to a worried Canadian population, and they are making full use of it.

Instead of promoting a "levelling down" approach to retirement, the private sector should be making every effort to improve the benefits it provides to its own workers.

The private sector should be redirecting its priorities towards the needs of all Canadians instead of constantly prioritizing a larger bottom line, and promoting ill-will between the public and the workers that protect the public good.

Links and sources
  Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Petition/Campaign resource page

Posted: February 18, 2010

  Public services
  Front lines
  Voices of privatization

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