Teachers' union, province agree to pension plan review

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The Nova Scotia Teachers Union and provincial government have agreed to have a committee review the ongoing challenges facing the teachers' pension plan.

Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters Thursday the agreement was reached outside the teachers' collective agreement and would see an independent committee of three actuaries who are pension specialists take on the task.

The committee has yet to be named, but must be in place by Jan. 8, 2021. A report with recommendations is due by Aug. 31, 2021.

McNeil said the committee would have direct access to teachers "to communicate to them the challenges with their pension plan and bring back solutions to be able to solve it."

A 2018 report showed the pension plan was only 75.3 per cent funded at the end of 2018, down from 78.4 per cent the year prior. The unfunded liability at the time had reached $1.6 billion.

David Laughlin/CBC
David Laughlin/CBC

In a statement, NSTU president Paul Wozney said details of the process are still being finalized, but the union wants to collaborate with the province on ensuring the plan's long-term health.

"A framework is currently being developed by the parties to study, educate and provide non-binding recommendations about how to protect and strengthen the plan in both the short and long term."

McNeil said he's pleased the committee will have access to teachers.

"Many of them who have been involved, either with the union or on committees, would have some expertise in and around that pension plan, and it's important for rank-and-file teachers to understand the complexity of this plan and the vulnerability of it," he said.

The premier couldn't say if consultations would include retired teachers.

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