North

Bill 12: Public meeting in Yellowknife tonight on pension bill

Several union groups will be headed to the N.W.T. legislature tonight, where the standing committee for government operations is holding a public review of Bill 12, which would establish a law governing the pension plan for 1,000 public sector workers.

Public sector unions concerned Bill 12 will claw back retirement benefits

Union members protest Bill 12 outside the N.W.T. legislature in October of 2014. Public sector unions fear Bill 12 could claw back retirement benefits. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

Several union groups will be headed to the N.W.T. legislature tonight, where the standing committee for government operations is holding a public review of Bill 12, which would establish a law governing the pension plan for 1,000 public sector workers.

Some of those workers, from groups like the Union of Northern Workers and the NWT Teachers Association, are concerned about the Northern Employee Benefits Services Pension Plan Act, which has also been introduced in Nunavut as Bill 1.

Gayla Meredith, president of the NWT Teachers' Association, says sections of the bill suggest the plan could morph into one in which benefits could change over time. She says that's the opposite of what her members want, which is a defined benefit plan.

"You know what you're going to get when you retire. There's a package that you know, down the line, what it's going to be. And now, if there can be changes to all these pieces over time, you're not going to know what that package is in the end."

The standing committee may make amendments to the bill tonight to reflect unions' concerns. 

At the public meeting, Finance Minister Michael Miltenberger will say whether he approves the amendments or not.

But even if he doesn't, MLAs will be able to debate the amendments further before a the final vote on the bill.

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