A lively crowd of close to 100 civil servants at the Montague Curling Rink Thursday night suggested the provincial government may not have the last word on public sector pension reform.

The Union of Public Sector Employees was hosting a meeting about the province's pension plan overhaul.

UPSE meeting

About 100 people attended the Montague meeting. (Julia Cook/CBC)

The changes include using a career average to calculate the pension, taking away guaranteed cost of living increases and increasing the age needed to qualify for a full pension. After 16 months of negotiation, the government made its plans public this week, and it plans to introduce legislation in the coming session.

Union president Debbie Bovyer said UPSE recognizes some changes are required to make public sector pensions sustainable, but said these changes are too drastic. Bovyer said she is hearing from members the plan cannot be allowed to go ahead.

"A lot of the calls that we're getting in at the union office - I'm getting emails, text messages - [are saying] that change will be made one way or the other," she said.

"If they can't get a positive change to the pension, they will make a change in government."

'It's pretty scary'

Union members at the meeting expressed a range of concerns over the government's plan.

"Changing the way that they do the average earnings over your career, if you started out as a student, that really, really reduces your end pension," said Bryan Burt.

"I'm concerned about the actions of the provincial government and the control they have over a plan that's half funded by the employees," said Peter Boswell

"It's pretty scary," said Doris MacKinnon.

"Whatever you leave with, that's pretty well what you're going to get, because when are we ever going to get indexing?"

The pension plan changes affect about 14,000 employees.

Another meeting is being hosted in O'Leary on Monday. The union hopes to hold a protest at legislature.

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