GOVERNMENT RETIREES URGED TO SPEAK UP
Published on May 21, 2013 in the Cape Breton Post
SYDNEY — Retired provincial government employees are being encouraged to mount a vigorous lobbying campaign aimed at reinstating a cost of living index to their pensions.
“We are talking about getting everyone together across the province to send letters, talk to their MLAs and do whatever we can,” said Bernie LaRusic, president of Region 8 of the Nova Scotia Government Retirees Association.
LaRusic and about 75 other local association members met on Tuesday with provincial association president Bernie Conrad who updated his members on recent discussions to have amendments to the legislation.
“Pensions are an extension of salary and we have no opportunity to change our retirement plans since we are already retired,” said Conrad, in noting the difficulty facing a pensioner who no longer receives all benefits promised.
Conrad said the time has come for government retirees to rise up and demand the index be returned.
The 2010 Financial Measures Act removed the cost of living increase from the pension fund. Conrad said his association wants that reinstated or at the very least, a provision that would allow those who were receiving the increase prior to the change to continue to receive the benefit.
“It is like having the rug pulled from under you,” said Conrad, adding he was receiving his pension for seven years before losing the increase.
The cost of living increase was tied to the Consumer Price Index and reviewed on an annual basis. The maximum increase that could have been granted was capped at six per cent.
Conrad said the average provincial government employee pension is about $17,500 annually. There are now some 12,000 government retirees receiving a pension.
He said those retirees still have to pay their electrical bill at a time when power costs in Nova Scotia are the highest in the country, buy groceries, pay rent or mortgages, buy cars and pay for gas.
“Whatever money we receive goes back into the economy,” said Conrad.
LaRusic, a longtime NDP member and former provincial party treasurer, said he remains a party member but calls the decision to remove the cost of living clause very undemocratic.
When the change to the pension plan was first introduced, the province said the act amended the Public Service Superannuation Act to restore the pension plan to financial health.
Conrad said the association has also raised its concerns with representatives from the provincial Liberals and Tories and neither party has said it would return the indexing, only that they would examine it.With a provincial election expected this year, Conrad said he hopes his association members will rise to the challenge and voice their concerns.
Published in the following Newspapers across the Province during the month of May 2013
TO ALL NOVA SCOTIA
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT RETIREES ! ! !
REAP THE BENEFITS OF BECOMING A MEMBER OF THE NOVA SCOTIA GOVERNMENT RETIRED EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION
The Nova Scotia Government Retired Employees Association was founded in 1985. Membership in the NSGREA is open to all persons who are in receipt of a Nova Scotia Public Service Superannuation Benefit (pension), the spouse of a deceased member and all former members (retired) of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union (NSGEU).Dental Coverage
Since then it has grown steadily and has acquired a number of benefits for all Provincial Government retirees who are members of NSGREA.
Travel / Life Insurance
Prescription Drug Discount
Members are kept updated on pension issues
Being a NSGREA member will allow you to voice your concerns and opinions and stay in touch with former co-workers and friends at both regional meetings held throughout the province and at our annual Convention each September.Membership fee is $ 25.00 per year.
NSGREA Provincial Office
477 Cobequid Road, Unit 2
Lower Sackville, NS B4C 4E9
902-865-5050 or 1-800-677-8666