On Point | Pensions and Danny Dumaresque

The panel discusses the possibility of pension difficulties between unions and government. Danny Dumaresque is the featured Liberal leadership candidate this week, fielding viewer-submitted questions.
Pension battle looming with unions and Danny Dumaresque on the Liberal leadership 19:08

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has reached a tentative deal with its biggest union, but there is a looming battle over pension plans that could stall agreements.

Siobhan Coady, former Liberal MP, said negotiations were a win for both NAPE and government, but the tone from Kathy Dunderdale implies that changes are on the way for future public sector employees.

"She talked about, 'Be prepared.' It was almost like a warning to those coming into the public service [that] there will be changes, and I don't know how she's going to grandfather them in," Coady said.

"I think that there's going to be a lot of angst around this issue because a lot of people go into the public service because of the pension, and I know that unions have been very concerned that we're changing pensions across the country and therefore taking away that, as they consider, hard-earned requirement of a pension."

Siobhan Coady, John Riche and Shawn Skinner on the On Point panel. (CBC)

According to John Riche, an NDP candidate in the 2011 provincial election, recent statements from the premier should be treated as cautionary.

"It's a warning to the people who are thinking about retiring, it's a warning to people who think they want to join the public service," Riche said.

"Things are changing now. There's still a movement afoot to reduce the public service, whether it's through layoffs, but this is sort of a nice way of coming and saying, 'Before you apply, or before you decide to keep on with your job, why don't you think about the future.'"

Former PC MHA Shawn Skinner said government is trying to reach out to the unions to try and minimize the divide between union and government when changes to the pension plan are discussed.

"I think it's fair to say that government has indicated that they are going to engage, and have engaged, with the public sector unions, and have indicated that they have been doing that for the last number of weeks," Skinner said.

"I read that to mean that government is interested in options, interested in discussing ways that this problem can be solved, and I think government is willing to listen to the unions and how to best try and position this because nobody — no government, no union — is going to have all of their members or all of their citizens happy with any changes that happen. You're going to have people upset."

Liberal leadership hopeful discusses plans

Danny Dumaresque is the second Liberal leadership candidate featured on On Point, fielding viewer-submitted questions about his plans for the party's future if he won the leadership role.

Viewers sent in questions about the number of MHAs, Lower Churchill projects, racism in the province and his recent election record.

Dumaresque said he has more election wins than any of the other leadership candidates and more experience in the political arena than all the others combined.

Each of the Liberal leadership hopefuls will make an appearance on the program to answer questions leading up to the November leadership election.


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