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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Stelmach Steps In on Teacher Pension Issues.

Congratulations to Premier Stelmach for taking the conditions off the additional $25M "goodwill" contribution of the Alberta government to the unfunded pension liability for teachers. Putting conditions as to how the funds were to be allocated distributed is not the government’s business.

Now he must continue his leadership and ensure that the resolution of the pension issue is not part of the labour negotiations. This separation of the two issues became a clear message coming our of the PC Leadership forum. It is my understanding that is consistent with the Premiers position then too. For the record, I have worked for the ATA in the past on finding ways to resolve this pension issue and I also working to try and fix the mess left by a former Minister who's bullying tactics was the real cause of the recent teacher strike

The Task Force on the unfunded pension liability the Minister of Learning has set up is also been redirected by the Premier. It merely needs to find the most expeditious way to resolve this issue. It does not need more public hearings on this issue. We have too many of those going on right now. We also have all the actuarial expertise it needs within the fund management and the government finance people so that part of the original mandate is unnecessary…in fact it is obfuscation at its worst.

This unfunded pension liability is one of the most unfair holdovers of mismanagements of past governments all the way back to Social Credit. The 1992 resolution that was reached was not effective for the long term because it assumed the education system would be in constant growth and there would always be more new young teachers coming into the system than older ones retiring. We know how wrong that has proven to be. Even the cuts to education that resulted in significant numbers of teacher lay offs in the debt and deficit days undermined the logic and effectiveness of the 1992 “resolution” of the issue.

Premier Stelmach, Alberta is not out of debt until this matter is resolved once and for all. Continue to take the responsibility to resolve this matter personally and dedicate some of the Sustainability Fund or Heritage Fund interest proceeds towards this problem. It will never be less expensive to do than now and it will never be more important for the long term benefit of our youth and the province as a whole. Do it now. Get it done.