public sector pensions

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Since the turn of the millennium, the ever-increasing cost to taxpayers of government sector pension plans has been made evident time and again. Contribution rates have been hiked, often doubling in one decade, or the plans have been partly bailed out by governments—or both.

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With talks to expand the Canada Pension Plan having stalled, the Ontario government has pledged to roll out its own provincial version.

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Now that the province has reaffirmed its intent to lightly modify government employee pension plans, government unions will again try to divert the public from the facts.

For example, after my recent column on the ever-increasing cost to taxpayers of public sector pension plans, Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and Marle Roberts, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (Alberta), cried foul.


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One theory about politics is that because politicians must get votes to stay in power—that’s their “currency”— they are unlikely to act against their own self-interest. So politicians cater to the specific voters who put them in power in the first place.


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Imagine if governments engaged in a massive spending binge over the last decade, with the benefits falling to just a small part of the population—and then hiked taxes four times to pay for it. Now imagine if they argued, in some Orwellian twist of illogic, that such excess generosity was “fully funded, affordable, and sustainable” – this after the multiple tax hikes demonstrated they were not.


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Canadians routinely hear about alleged growing divides in Canadian society. But here is one rift that often goes unmentioned: the divide between the pension benefits of public sector employees and everyone else.

Such inequality incurs real costs, where ordinary taxpayers pay ever more for above-market, guaranteed pension benefits that ever fewer in the private sector possess.