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August 7, 2012
For immediate release

Government and unions working together to keep provincial employee pension plans sustainable and affordable

Finance and Energy

Government and labour unions are working together to come up with a “made-in-Prince Edward Island” solution to keep public sector pensions both sustainable and affordable, says Finance, Energy and Municipal Affairs Minister Wes Sheridan.

“Islanders are aware of the pressures on our pension fund,” said Minister Sheridan. “We are still feeling the effects of the volatility in the stock market following the economic downturn back in 2008. In response, we formed a working committee with our labour unions to come up with some interim relief, as well as some long-term solutions to a problem that is facing every jurisdiction in North America.”

The working group met recently, and included representatives from the Union of Public Sector Employees (UPSE), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the Prince Edward Island Nurses Union (PEINU) and the Prince Edward Island Teachers’ Federation (PEITF) as well as Minister Sheridan and employees of the Department of Finance, Energy and Municipal Affairs.

“Government has committed to a review of its public sector pension plans and has invited unions to be a part of that process,” said PEI Teachers’ Federation President Gilles Arsenault. “The PEI Teachers’ Federation is currently participating in this review and sees the on-going viability of the Teachers’ Superannuation Fund as a top priority.”

“The future viability of the CSSF pension plan is of vital importance to our members,” says Ted Crockett, International Representative for the IUOE. “We have an obligation to our membership to work with government in finding long-term solutions to these issues.”

Following the meeting, the Province announced its intention to make annual contributions of $23.1 million for the next 10 years to address the shortfall in its pension plans. Minister Sheridan noted that if at any time during the ten-year period the markets recover such that a recipient plan attains 90% funding status, this funding commitment would cease. In addition, the working group will continue to work together on ways to mitigate future funding shortfalls. This funding arrangement meets the Province’s pension obligation to public servants, both current and retired.

“I am very encouraged by the discussions we are having with our unions,” said Minister Sheridan. “Having all of our partners at the table is a positive first step. We all have the common goal of keeping a sustainable pension in place for those who work so hard, each and every day, to provide important programs and services to Islanders.”

Media Contact: Jennifer MacDonald-Donovan
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