Blaine Higgs targets teachers for pension reform
New Brunswick government has made $870 million in special payments to teachers plan in 10 years
Current and retired teachers in New Brunswick are looking to find out more about the province's intentions for their pension plan.
Information sessions were held around the province Wednesday to given them an opportunity to ask questions and talk about the future of the plan.
Finance Minister Blaine Higgs says taxpayers put three dollars into the plan for every dollar contributed by teachers.
"I wouldn't say there is any disagreement that our current model is broken," said Higgs.
Those changes were met with strong opposition, particularly from retired civil servants, who have threatened to sue the government over the changes and vowed to defeat David Alward's Progressive Conservatives in September's provincial election.
Retired teachers were among the dozens who showed up at Wednesday's information session put on by the New Brunswick Teachers' Federation in Fredericton.
"The options are . . . well there aren't any," said retired principal Brian Stewart. "I can't work any longer.
"I can see there needs to be change. I'm certain of that, that there have to be some changes made," he said. "But for those of us who have retired, I don't have any other options, so it's very important that things are stabilized and that we know where we are going."
The New Brunswick Teachers' Federation represents about 17,000 current and retired teachers. Co-president Peter Fullerton feels the teachers' pension plan is in good shape.
"I think actually if you take a look at the information that even comes out from the government, they recognize that we have a very strong pension plan," he said. "It's funded at about 90 per cent right now."
However, Higgs points out that a big reason for the current state of the teachers' plan is the amount of money the government has poured into the plan over the last 10 years.
"How healthy do you feel a plan is if it requires $870 million of excess money in the last 10 years, special payments," said Higgs.
The federation says it wants to make the plan sustainable and affordable, but it also wants time to consider all the options.