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Wilson Continues to Push for Outstanding Pension Regulations

(September 18, 2013) Public servants should be outraged by the government’s continual delays in creating regulations that would allow for the transfer of pension assets for thousands of public sector employees, including several paramedics and MPAC employees in his riding. Today Wilson rose in the Legislature for the 13th time to question the Minister of Finance on the issue.

Minister, on May 18, three years ago, the Pension Benefits Amendment Act received royal assent after getting all-party support in this House ... On March 30, two years ago, I asked your predecessor, the Minister of Finance, why he had since ignored this bill and not introduced the necessary regulations,” said Wilson. “Can you stand up in the House today and tell us anything different on this issue than your predecessor told us two years ago?

The Minister could not answer the question and proceeded to talk generally about pensions and retirement planning.

Wilson fired back, “Minister, I could not have been more fair to you.”

“I spoke to you just after you were sworn in as Minister of Finance. I handed you a letter. I’ve written you five letters since last December on this issue. I’ve raised this in the House on several occasions. I did a private member’s bill that was debated in this House and voted upon.”

Thousands of paramedics, thousands of MPAC employees, through no fault of their own in the mid-late 90s, had their employer changed. They might have been working for the Collingwood Ambulance Service and are now working for the County of Simcoe. Their pensions would have been merged automatically if they were police officers moving from the Collingwood town police to the OPP because it’s in the Police Act.

This doesn’t cost you any money. You simply have to transfer the money so that all the credits are put together in one pension plan and they get the pension they paid for. When are you going to do it?” charged Wilson.

Wilson has been working on this issue for years.  By teaming up with local paramedics he was successful in pushing the government to enact enabling legislation that became law in 2010. The legislation fixes a barrier that forbids the transfer of pension assets after certain public sector employees had their pensions split when the government transferred the responsibility of these specific services to upper tier municipalities. Despite the legislative fix three years ago, the government has yet to introduce the regulations to make it happen. 

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You read the Hansard of Mr. Wilson’s full remarks below,

 

Pension plans

Mr. Jim Wilson: My question is for the Minister of Finance. Minister, on May 18, three years ago, the Pension Benefits Amendment Act received royal assent after getting all-party support in House. As you know very well, this legislation is needed to help thousands of public sector employees merge their pension benefits so that they can retire with benefits they’ve already paid for.

On March 30, two years ago, I asked your predecessor, the Minister of Finance, why he had since ignored this bill and not introduced the necessary regulations. At that time, his response was: “We are engaged in a range of consultations … Those regulations will be promulgated shortly.” Minister, can you stand up in the House today and tell us anything different on this issue than your predecessor told us two years ago?

Hon. Charles Sousa: I appreciate the question and I appreciate the concern from all sides of the House when it comes to retirement planning in the province of Ontario. Too many Ontarians—almost 40%—don’t have a pension plan or a retirement savings plan. As a result, we instituted in our budget more recently—the one, by the way, that you didn’t support—the pooled RRSP plan, a PRPP, an employer plan and alternatives to try to support those Ontarians in need. We will continue to also advocate for enhanced CPP with the federal government.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Mr. Jim Wilson: Minister, I couldn’t have been more fair to you. I spoke to you just after you were sworn in as Minister of Finance. I handed you a letter. I’ve written you five letters since last December on this issue. I’ve raised this in the House on several occasions. I did a private member’s bill that was debated in this House and voted upon.

Thousands of paramedics, thousands of MPAC employees, through no fault of their own in the mid-late 90s, had their employer changed. They might have been working for the Collingwood hospital ambulance service and are now working for the county of Simcoe. Their pensions would have been merged automatically if they were police officers moving from the Collingwood town police to the OPP because it’s in the police act.

Four years ago your predecessor did put it in the budget. Three years ago it received royal assent, but we’ve been waiting for three years. There are thousands of public servants in everyone’s ridings waiting to retire. This doesn’t cost you any money. You simply have to transfer the money so that all the credits are put together in one pension plan and they get the pension they paid for. When are you going to do it?

Hon. Charles Sousa: I appreciate the enthusiasm and the spirit and the concern of the member. I do. But what is important is what has been done and what we continue to do to support those Ontarians who require support and their RRSP. In fact, pension reform is underway. It’s in this budget—something that you didn’t support. We have it on page 276, talking about some of the requirements and some of the initiatives that are underway now. In fact, some of the work that we’ve done has actually been able to support and save taxpayers up to $2.4 billion this year alone while protecting pensioners.

We need to ensure that a pooled pension plan exists and that all those initiatives and all those individuals have safeguards. We would support your recommendations provided you also support what’s in it, and we need your help.


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