Planned pension reform could be harder on women

Changes to P.E.I.'s civil service pension plan recently announced by the government could be harder on women than men, says the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

Changes to P.E.I.'s civil service pension plan recently announced by the government could be harder on women than men, says the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

Women may end careers with the similar salaries to men, but have a lower average salary over their entire careers. (CBC)

The changes are meant to prevent a shortfall in funding for the pension plan, and include using a career salary average to calculate pensions, rather than the final years of service.

Council executive director Jane Ledwell told CBC News Monday women may get short-changed if the province uses career average to determine pensions.

"If you look at employment trends across the board, it does tend to be the case that women arrive in higher paying positions later in their careers and tend to have fewer years in those positions," said Ledwell.

That difference in career paths means women will tend to have a disproportionately larger decrease in their pensions under the new plan.

Ledwell said the government should do a comprehensive gender study on these recent pension proposals to understand how the reform may affect women, who make up about 70 per cent of public sector employees.

Finance Minister Wes Sheridan issued a statement in response to Ledwell's concerns.

"When Government considered changes to the public sector pension plans, it looked to ensure they were fair to all plan members, whether they are new to the workforce, close to retirement or already retired," Sheridan wrote.

Government officials said they looked at the impact of women living longer than men when considering pension reform, but not at how different career paths may affect their pension benefits.

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