Pension reform advocate drops by St. John’s

Published on March 27, 2014
Bill Tufts, an employee benefits and pension specialist from Ontario, was in St. John’s Wednesday to meet with Memorial University students. — Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

Bill Tufts, an employee benefits and pension specialist based in Hamilton, Ont., says public-sector pension plans in Newfoundland and Labrador are not built to last.

“At one time, those promises seemed reasonable. They’re no longer reasonable,” he said Wednesday to a small group of students at The Breezeway on Memorial University’s St. John’s campus.

“They are going to be funded by people that aren’t getting those promises themselves.”

He was a guest speaker for an event organized by Generation Screwed, a group aligned with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation that’s advocating for reduced debt load and small government. Tufts is the founder and executive director of Fair Pensions for All.

Tufts suggests the cost of defined benefit pension plans in the public sector is too great for future generations to be burdened with and leaves retirees excessively entitled.

“There’s an issue of fairness around that, especially when we’re living longer and your generation is going to be paying those costs for so much longer.”

He said when pension plans were created in the early 20th century, they were intended to keep seniors out of poverty. Today, such pensions have become much more lucrative, according to Tufts.

While in St. John’s, Tufts said he met with provincial Finance Minister Charlene Johnson and city officials.