The New Brunswick Federation of Labour questions the validity of a short “consultation” conducted on significant proposed changes to pension legislation in New Brunswick.
The pension regulator, New Brunswick Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB) proposed several changes to the Pension Benefits Act and its regulations and was seeking input on these changes. The changes were quietly announced in early July on a single government web page, with the consultation window closing on July 13. When the NBFL asked for an extension on the consultation window, it was denied.
The proposed changes could have a significant impact on the functioning of the remaining defined benefit pension plans in New Brunswick.
“This so-called “consultation” is not very democratic and does not inspire confidence in the process” says Daniel Legere, President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour. “Pension laws can be complicated and the potential impact on workers can be significant. A short timeline to submit written content, in the middle of summer and in the throws of a pandemic, is not appropriate for this type of review.”
Other provinces conducted extensive consultations when their pension laws were reformed. In Nova Scotia there was a comprehensive consultation processes with unions over 2.5 years which included discussion papers, in-person consultations with stakeholders and written submissions. In Ontario, the process was 2 years and involved a stakeholder reference group, roundtable discussions, consultation paper and written submissions.
“The New Brunswick Federation of Labour is calling on the provincial government to lead a stakeholder engagement initiative on the proposed changes to the pension plan,” concludes Legere, “Pension plan members should have the opportunity to provide meaningful input on any changes that will impact their risk and benefit levels.”
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