Wynne picking fight on retirement benefits: civil servants’ union

Changes require public-sector employees to pay half of their benefits premiums


TORONTO – A union representing Ontario civil servants says Premier Kathleen Wynne is picking a fight by forcing workers to pay more for retirement benefits.

The government announced the changes late Tuesday, which will also require civil servants to work longer to qualify for retirement benefits.

Warren “Smokey” Thomas says the changes came out of the blue and he’s seeking legal advice on whether the government can make them unilaterally.

They won’t apply to current retirees, but Thomas says it will punish future workers and those who don’t retire before 2017 when the changes kick in.

He says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union has negotiated changes in the past and is willing to do so again.

Thomas says he’s asking Wynne to rescind the changes and stop attacking the middle class for political reasons, like balancing the budget in 2017-18.

Wynne consults with everybody in the province except labour, and then she calls us labour partners, he said.

Thomas said when he met Wynne after she became premier a year ago, she told him the government had no money.

“I said, ‘I’ve got two words for you sister: every time you say we’ve got no money, I’m going to say power plants.'”

The Liberals have been under fire for pulling the plug on two unpopular gas plants ahead of the 2011 election — one just days before voters were to go to the polls — which the auditor general says could cost taxpayers up to $1.1 billion.

The government said the retirement benefit changes they’re planning will save them $1.2 billion over five years.

Public-sector employees retiring in 2017 and later will have to pay half of their benefits premiums for life, health, dental and vision coverage, which is currently covered by the province, it said.

It also plans to change the eligibility period for retiree benefits from 10 to 20 years for workers who are hired from Jan. 1, 2017 onward or who have less than a decade of pension credit by that time.

Thomas said the average pensioner in the public service receives $20,000 a year and future retirees will take a big hit if the government goes ahead with the changes.


Wynne picking fight on retirement benefits: civil servants’ union

  1. She’ll break and give the Union whatever they’re asking for because there’s an election coming. We’ve seen time and time again that Wynne will spend irresponsibly spend any sum of money if she thinks it gives her a slightly better chance of being elected.

  2. As a member of the OPS who will be directly impacted by these proposals, I say well done Wynne. It is well past time that these absurdly generous pension benefits (which are paid for in large measure by people less well of than those (like me) receiving the benefits) be rolled back. Hopefully this is only the start.
    I tend to agree with Rick, however, that she will ultimately cave on this. Ah well, I guess we can all move out west when these chickens come home to roost.

    • Mike2 if you are so insulted by the benefits that you earn then there is a process by which you don’t have to take them. I assume you’ve done this already? No, I thought not.

    • First off the pension benefits are not paid for in large part by the tax payer. Generally 30% is paid for out of the contributions and 70% is paid for out of investment earnings. Of the 30% paid out of contributions only half is paid by the government the rest is paid by the employee. On top of that I would hardly call the pension absurdly generous. The average pension is $20,000 that isn’t enough to live on.