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Getting the Politics out of our Pensions

Understanding pension governance can be confusing, but with the importance of your pension to your quality of life after work, understanding who holds the control is vital.  In the current governance structure of LAPP, there is a 14 member Board of Trustees and Directors that are responsible for setting contribution rates, evaluating pension costs, and developing strategies and policies related to funding, investments and plan design.  The Board is comprised of equal representatives from employer and employee stakeholders.  Under this current structure, if the Board recommends changes, these changes must first be reviewed and supported by the Minister of Finance, who has the final approval for any changes to the pension plan.

Some members may recall back in 2013, the former Redford government decided they were going to make changes to our pension.  These changes were not proposed by the Board of Trustees, but by the Provincial Government.  In fact, when the former Minister of Finance, Doug Horner, proposed these changes to the Board of Trustees, it was not supported.  The Redford government then proposed a plan to legislate these changes to accomplish their goals.  Some of their goals included removing early retirement provisions, raising the qualifying age and removing the automatic cost of living adjustments that are built into the plan.  These changes could have been catastrophic to the members preparing to retire and would have negatively impacted all those working members, as their savings plan for retirement would have been significantly changed.

Many members of LAPP vocalized their concerns by contacting their MLA’s by phone, email and letters and some rallied in Edmonton in -30 C temperatures to ensure they were heard.  Thankfully, they were.  The Redford government and the MLA’s were swamped with so many angry letters and phone calls that they were forced to back down from their proposed legislation.  Going forward, LAPP members will need to take a proactive approach to ensure this type of attack does not put our pensions in jeopardy again.

CUPE Local 38, in conjunction with the Calgary District Labour Council have been lobbying the Finance Minister and the 15 Calgary MLA’s to let them know of the importance of giving the decision making control to the stakeholders that are represented by the LAPP Board of Trustees and Directors.  This is the message we need to see go to the legislature and we need the support of the current government to put that to the floor.  You can help by contacting your MLA and letting them know that you want the politics out of your pension.  We need to see self-governance in LAPP, and not rely on the government of the day to protect our pensions.

A sample letter has been created by CUPE Local 38 that can be downloaded and used to contact your MLA to bring this issue forward with your government representatives.  To find out the MLA for your area please use the following link:  http://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=mla_home