New Brunswick is being sued by a group of retirees after the province made changes to the public sector pension plan.

Pension Coalition NB, which represents 13,000 public sector retirees, alleges that New Brunswick has breached their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In December 2013, the province passed legislation called An Act Respecting Public Service Pensions, which introduced a shared-risk plan and no longer automatically indexed pensions to the cost of living.

“The effect that An Act Respecting Public Service Pensions has on the lives of these people violates each pensioner’s right to life, and security of their person, contrary to Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” says a statement from the group’s law firm, Koskie Minsky.

It notes that the legislation discriminates against pensioners, who are vulnerable, on the basis of their age, in violation of Section 15 of the charter and is not demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.

“The province has done what no private employer in the country has the unilateral authority to do; namely, legislate a revocation of vested pension benefits—which is a protected foundation stone of our pension system—while immunizing itself from all liability from the courts,” says Ari Kaplan of Koskie Minsky, lead lawyer for the applicants.

Clifford Kennedy, one of the applicants and the spokesperson for Pension Coalition NB, says the legislation has an inordinately adverse impact upon retirees who, due to their age, health or personal reasons, are not in a position to replace the lost income they previously earned and expect to cover their cost of living.

The group says the average pensioner is more than 70 years old, and 2,600 of them are older than 80. The average pension is $21,503 per year, taking into account a 50% survivor’s benefit.

A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 5.

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Robert in Vancouver:

Gov’t workers are constantly demanding more more more.

Yet they are on the front lines opposing projects that generate gov’t revenues such as mining, fracking, pipelines, oil sands, logging, and resource business in general.

All gov’t worker’s wages and benefits should be a simple percentage of total tax revenues gov’t collects from all businesses and their employees, especially natural resource businesses.

Tuesday, July 08 at 6:20 pm | Reply

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