The Newfoundland and Labrador government owns a shopping mall in North Vancouver with a Cineplex Odeon movie theatre, a Booster Juice and 33 other businesses in it.
The government also owns 10 per cent of the massive retail complex on the northeast corner of Yonge and Dundas in downtown Toronto, along with office buildings in Mississauga, Edmonton and St. Laurent, Quebec.
Real estate makes up only a fraction of the government’s $7.8-billion pension fund, but even a small percentage of the overall fund amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars in property scattered across Canada.
The government pension plan doesn’t have any property in Newfoundland and Labrador, or anywhere else in Atlantic Canada.
Finance Minister Charlene Johnson said real estate makes up about five per cent of the overall pension fund, but that’s always changing.
“This is done by experts in the field (who) know where to put the money based on markets at the time. And they say that real estate is something good to diversify their portfolio,” Johnson said. “They’re always looking at it to see how best to change around that asset mix to get the best return and, you know, be conservative.”
It’s actually been pretty good, recently, for the pension fund, Johnson said. They had a 22 per cent return last year.
Nonetheless, she said the unfunded liability in the pension fund and post-retirement benefits is currently 74 per cent of the province’s total debt, and that’s forecast to rise to 85 per cent.
Nobody will give any hints about what, exactly, is going to be done about the issue, although Johnson acknowledged pensions make up a massive part of her job right now.
“Pensions and negotiations are my life,” she said with a laugh.
The Telegram contacted two of the province’s public sector unions — NAPE and CUPE — but officials declined to do interviews about the pension issue, because negotiations with the government are actively ongoing.
Wayne Lucas, representing CUPE, has called for a “cone of silence” around the negotiations.
Johnson wouldn’t say anything specific either.
She won’t give any sort of time line for when the government would like to come to a deal to restructure pensions.
“As long as the discussions are meaningful, we’ll continue talking,” she said.
“I don’t want to rush into a solution, but if we can get to a place where we can get an agreement with the unions and the government that we’re at a place where we can get a sustainable plan in the future, then that’s where discussions would wrap up.”
REAL ESTATE IN PENSION FUND
The provincial government owns hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate across the country, as part of the provincial pension fund. The real estate is managed by Newvest Realty Corp.
Investment Properties – Newvest Realty Corporation (as of Dec., 2013):
- Park and Tilford Shopping Centre, North Vancouver, British Columbia
- TD Creekside Corporate Centre (50% interest), Mississauga, Ont.
- Centre 5735, Calgary, Alberta
- 4500 Cousens Road, St. Laurent, Quebec
- 4500 Chemin Bois Franc, St. Laurent, Quebec
- Faubourg Bois Franc, St. Laurent, Quebec
- Vintage Park, Calgary, Alberta
- 10201 Jasper Avenue (20% interest), Edmonton, Alberta
- 10303 Jasper Avenue, (20% interest), Edmonton, Alberta
- 10 Dundas Street East, (15% interest), Toronto, Ontario
- Kaplan Industrial Portfolio, Montreal, Quebec
- 550 Burrard Street, (12.5% interest), Vancouver, British Columbia
- Argentia Industrial Portfolio, Mississauga, Ontario
Source: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador