WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberals say the level of distrust and dysfunction at the Manitoba Legislature is so low that on Wednesday, the NDP held up a PC bill that would strengthen and secure public pensions for public sector workers even though the bill had many provisions the NDP put forward as government in 2015.
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said because the Pallister government continues to keep pushing for more cuts, civil servants are looking to escape the pain of a layoff or massive salary cut by retiring and pulling out their pension as a lump sum.
That's bad for workers, bad for the public service, and bad for the pension plan.
"It's no surprise no one trusts this government to do the right thing because when the crisis hit, Pallister panicked and pressured the entire province for mass layoffs and salary cuts," said Lamont. "The NDP should know Bill 43 was in the works for years because they introduced parts of it when they were in government. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and this bill will secure public pensions. The NDP are putting that at risk."
In May 2015, the then NDP government introduced Bill 29, which had many identical provisions to Bill 43. It never made it past first reading.
The goal of the bill is to secure the pension plan and keep contribution costs low by ensuring there can't be a "run" on the plan. Under current rules, if 1300 people withdraw the full amount, the remaining 30,000 plus people contributing would face an increase in contributions of 2%.
If the bill passes, it would still allow significant lump sum withdrawals and every participant in the plan would be ensured their full pension. If it doesn't pass, too many workers cashing out in full near retirement will result in higher costs for 95% of the remaining plan members - especially younger workers.
"We recognize that it is almost impossible to believe the Pallister government might do anything that is helpful for workers, but Bill 43 will actually help secure these pensions in the middle of a crisis," said Lamont. "We've truly reached a new era in Manitoba politics when the NDP blocks a bill they used to support to strengthen public pensions, just to spite the PCs."