Teachers face higher retirement age under new pension deal

Teachers in New Brunswick will have to retire later and teachers who are already retired may not always get cost-of-living increases under a new pension deal with the provincial government.

Deal approved by New Brunswick Teachers' Federation also includes changes to indexing

After months of negotiations... a pension deal is finally reached. Harry Forestell speaks with Peter Fullerton, with the New Brunswick Teachers Federation, 3:27

Teachers in New Brunswick will have to retire later and teachers who are already retired may not always get cost-of-living increases under a new pension deal with the provincial government.

"It certainly isn't a cause for celebration," Peter Fullerton, co-president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Federation, told CBC News on Tuesday.

"The teachers of New Brunswick have made significant changes to their plan," he said.

Fullerton declined to discuss details, saying the federation wants to explain the changes to members first. It plans to hold nine meetings across the province, starting on April 22.

But Fullerton described the plan as a "hybrid" of the shared-risk model initially proposed by the provincial government and rejected by the federation.

"There may be some aspects of the shared-risk model in it, however, it does meet the needs of teachers," he said.

Fullerton also confirmed there will be an increase in the age of retirement for teachers. It will not, however, be 65, as previously proposed by the government, he said.

In addition, there will be "a little bit of a change in the indexing on a go-forward basis" for retirees, said Fullerton. The cost-of-living adjustments are only guaranteed if the plan can afford it, he said.

"I think our plan is intergenerationally fair," said Fullerton.  "I believe it has taken into account what the retired teachers were willing to put in, those that are currently in the plan, and those that would be coming in the future. It is shared among all of them," he said.

"I believe that it will meet the needs of teachers as well as meeting the needs of the government  in the fact that it will be sustainable, affordable, fair for all, and secure in the ongoing future."

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs gave his caucus colleagues a thumbs up after announcing a pension deal had been struck with the New Brunswick Teachers' Federation. (CBC)
The federation's board of directors approved an agreement with the
Alward government on pensions on April 12.

“It has been a rigorous and challenging process,” Fullerton said in the statement.

The federation has cancelled all teacher pension rallies for the week.

The two sides have been trying to reach a deal on pension reform for the past several months.

The federation represents roughly 17,000 current and retired teachers in the province.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs announced the deal in the legislative assembly on Tuesday afternoon to a round of applause from his fellow Progressive Conservative MLAs.

“We are pleased that teachers have been willing to work collaboratively to create a pension plan that is sustainable for plan members and affordable for taxpayers," Higgs said.

​“The new model will end the practice of special payments and, like the other plans that have been reformed, will reach matching contributions from teachers and the province.”

Higgs did not offer many other specific details about the pension agreement. But the finance minister said it meets the four principles of sustainability, affordability, security and is equitable to all generations.

Among the changes, the finance minister said the agreement will eliminate the deficit facing the teachers' pension plan, and will reach a 50-50 ratio of funding from teachers and the provincial government. 

Legislation was passed before Christmas that changes the pension plan for civil servants and retirees to a shared-risk model.

Under the new system for the public service, employees have to increase their own contributions to the pension plan by an average of $1,200 a year.

The shared-risk model sees employees and retirees take on more risk for the pension fund's performance, instead of the provincial government being the only party at risk if there is a downturn in the markets.


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