Pensions and paying the piper

Published on March 14, 2014

I would like to comment on a letter in your March 4 edition by Don Ash of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association on defined benefit pension plans (“Pensions and a reasonable standard of living”). He takes aim at business and the federal government as opposing defined benefit pension plans, rather then looking within.

Teachers are an extremely privileged group in Newfoundland society, thus I fail to see the connection he is making between teachers and those in need of government support.

On the one hand, Mr. Ash says that defined benefit plans are generally not funded by the taxpayer, and in the next breath says that his premium contribution is matched by the government. These are taxpayers dollars and the public service and teacher plans are in deficit, meaning that the taxpayer will have to pay more than 50 per cent of teacher salaries, averaging $80,000 per year.

Defined benefit pension plans for professional groups should be paid for by those who benefit from them, thus leaving more money for the disadvantaged in our society. There are no other funding sources than the taxpayer. Teachers are not amongst the disadvantaged; in fact, they enjoy a very rich contract of salary and benefits due to the large influence of teachers in our elected government. Teachers count training as work experience and many retire in their early 50s and receive benefits for as many years as they have worked. The teacher pension plan contribution is insufficient. Contributions will need to increase or the age of retirement increased.

The issue is not defined benefit pension plans but one of who should pay. Is it fair that I should have to work to at least 65 years of age on half a teacher’s salary to help pay for teachers to retire at 50 years of age?

Thank you, as I salute the good work of teachers.

Harold Tobin