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Bill C-27 Fight Update

03/27/2017

This message is a follow-up to the Unifor ACL posting on January 25, 2017, encouraging all union members to lobby their Federal MP to vote against the regressive Bill C-27:  

Through the efforts of the labour movement we are making headway in repealing Bill C-27, but the fight is not over yet.  A lot of our members contacted their Federal MP's or the Minister of Finance and received the following Liberal Party "standard party" message in response to their concerns:

This legislation will broaden the scope of retirement savings opportunities available to Canadians by implementing a new federal framework for Target Benefit Plans. They represent a new, voluntary, sustainable and flexible pension option for employees in federally regulated private sector and Crown corporation pension plans. For those who choose this option, Target Benefit Plans will provide a lifetime pension that benefits from the pooling of market risk and protects against the risk of outliving one’s retirement savings. At the same time, transferring benefits from an existing plan to a Target Benefit Plan is optional. The federal Target Benefit Plan framework requires individual informed consent from plan members and retirees before their accrued defined benefit or defined contribution benefits may be surrendered in exchange for Target Benefit Plan benefits. Individuals who do not consent maintain their benefits in their current form. In a unionized environment, a union will be able to consent on behalf of its membership where authorized to do so. The new framework does not involve changes to federal public sector pension plans, which are governed by other statutes. The introduction of this legislation will complement our other achievements in strengthening retirement savings for Canadians. In June of 2016, Canada’s Finance Ministers reached an historic agreement to make meaningful changes to the Canada Pension Plan that will allow Canadians to retire with more money in their pockets.”

Thank you again for writing, and for sharing your perspective with me on these benefit plans. I am proud to work for you, representing your concerns in Ottawa.  Again, thank you for this email.  I understand why folks are concerned.

This is an inaccurate description of the risks associated with Bill C-27.  We encourage all members to respond to this Liberal whitewashing of the dangers of Bill C-27 to your pension plan with the following:

Dear Member of Parliament,

Thank you for your response to my email regarding Bill C-27. I would like to take this opportunity to share some additional information with you in response to your letter.

Firstly, contrary to the information provided to you by the Ministry of Finance, it is unlikely that this legislation will strengthen retirement savings for Canadians. Employers with defined contribution (DC) plans will not go through the administrative work to establish a target benefit plan (TBP). And, employers without a workplace pension plan are unlikely to introduce a TBP – they would have at least offered a DC plan if they wanted to provide a pension for their employees. Rather, it is the employers with good defined benefit (DB) plans that will see value in C-27. The Ministry of Finance emphasizes that “surrendering” accrued defined benefits in exchange for target benefits plan will be optional. Yet, because the trade-off between a DB and a TBP is generally unfavorable for plan members, it is doubtful that anyone would agree to “surrender” their accrued defined benefits unless they are under extreme pressure to do so. Workers could go on strike to defend their DB plans and be ordered back to work; losing leverage at the bargaining table. Also, employers could use various incentives and even threats to convince employees to “surrender” their defined benefits.

Finally, the possibility of converting a DB plan into a TBP generally weakens the position of DB plan members in insolvency or pre-insolvency situation by exposing them to the additional risk that accrued benefits would be reduced. There are better options available to address declining pension plan coverage and the pressures facing DB plans in the federal sector. Other jurisdictions have considered reforms to solvency funding and the federal government could do the same. When Stephen Harper’s Conservatives consulted on this framework in 2014, labour unions and retiree organizations were unanimously opposed. I am disappointed that the Liberal government is taking up where Stephen Harper’s Conservatives left off.

I encourage you to reconsider your support for this legislation.

 

We also encourage all members to sign the following petition:

https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-695

 

In Solidarity,

Unifor ACL