Wilson pushes for pension regulations for local workers
(March 30, 2011) Jim Wilson continued to advocate for Simcoe County paramedics and other local public service employees today who have been seeking changes to the Pension Benefits Act. In Question Period, the Simcoe-Grey MPP asked the Minister of Finance when they can expect Regulations to be introduced to allow for the transfer of pension assets.
"Unfortunately for the people affected, you've completely ignored the
bill since it was passed and have failed to introduce the Regulations,"
Wilson told the Minister of Finance. "Minister, why are you ruining the
retirement future of thousands of Ontario families?"
The issue was first brought to Wilson's attention in February 2009 when he met with Simcoe County paramedic Dave Coursey, a resident of Anten Mills. At their meeting in Collingwood, Coursey explained that when emergency medical services were divested to the County of Simcoe in the late 1990s, paramedics were enrolled in new a new pension plan, instead of having their pension assets merged into one plan. A clause in the Pension Benefits Act forbids the merger. This meant that upon retirement they would receive two pension cheques at a significantly reduced rate even though they never missed a day's work.
Sensing the injustice, Wilson took up their cause and introduced a Private Members' Bill to change the Act, which was debated on June 4, 2009. After significant pressure from Wilson and local paramedics, the government introduced its own legislation to amend the Act in September of that year. After countless meetings, petitions and statements in the Legislature, on May 5, 2010, the amendment to the Pension Benefits Act finally passed with all-party support.
For the past year, local workers have been waiting for the government to finalize the Regulations, which are an essential part of the bill. Regulations, which are passed by the Cabinet, set the finer policy points for asset transfers. Until the Regulations are approved, no assets can be transferred.
Wilson says he is pleased with the Minister of Finance's assurance today that it is a top priority, but says he's disappointed it is taking this long. "The government's own Expert Commission urged the government to move promptly to resolve this years ago. People cannot afford to wait any longer, especially if their retirement date is on the horizon."
The local MPP says he'll keep pushing for a swift resolution to the matter and thanked local paramedics for their persistence in helping get the legislation this far.
May 28, 2009 - Wilson goes to bat for Simcoe County paramedics
June 4, 2009 - Introduction of Wilson's Pension Benefits Statue Law Amendment Act
June 4, 2009 - Debate on Wilson's Pension Resolution
September 25, 2009 - Members' Statement, Pension Benefits
October 7, 2010 - Restore Earned Benefits: Wilson
November 2, 2010 - Wilson's contribution to debate on Bill 236, the Pension Benefits Amendment Act
March 10, 2011 - Tabling of petitions (one of 15 times when petitions on the issue was introduced)