Pension forum discusses sustainability of OMERS – ARIA post

(Dec. 13, 2012) The Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees believes every Ontarian should have access to a well-funded pension when they retire, reports the Waterloo Chronicle.
“About 60 per cent of workers have no pension,” Fred Hahn of CUPE Ontario states in the report, “forcing many to retire into poverty and become a bigger burden to the tax system.”
The forum, held recently in Waterloo, “was co-hosted by Coun. Karen Scian and Mike Magreehan, former chair of the now-defunct Citizens’ Budget Task Force,” the Chronicle reports.
“The real pension crisis is that most Canadians don’t have enough of a pension to retire on,” Hahn stated.
He was joined, the article notes, by Bill Tufts of Fair Pensions for All and Mike Robinson and John Pierce of OMERS for a panel discussion on the “pros and cons of the taxpayer-funded OMERS plan, of which the City is a member.”
The audience learned that 400,000 Ontarians are covered by the OMERS defined benefit plan. For every dollar a pensioner receives, the report notes, “roughly 30 cents comes from contributions, with employees and employers contributing 15 cents each.”
Tufts, the newspaper says, argued that given OMERS’ $10-billion funding shortfall the plan “is no longer sustainable.”
“In the past 10 years the deficit has doubled and we’re seeing an exponential growth curve as the shortfall grows,” Tufts told the audience. He predicts, the newspaper reports, that the shortfall “will need to be made up through increased taxes and decreased services.”
“Some people are 100 years old and have been collecting for 40 years,” Tufts said. The newspaper notes that this drew “an angry response from some of the more than 100 members of the audience, one of whom shouted back, `And why shouldn’t they?’”
“The OMERS representatives used the evening as an opportunity to outline their plan to bring the pension back into a surplus position over the next 10 to 15 years,” the newspaper reports.
Robinson “acknowledged the plan would reach the $10-billion deficit mark in 2012 but said the plan’s analysts had predicted that to be the case,” the report notes.
“The major cause of the enormous deficit was the 2008 financial crash, and through a process known as actuarial smoothing, the losses or gains of any particular year are spread out over the next five years, meaning the group was still feeling the effects of the crash four years down the road,” the report states.
For the full story, click here. For part 1 of the video, click here. For part two, click here.

ARIA provides a forum for an informed discussion on retirement income adequacy, and other related issues, including pension and retirement coverage, and defined benefit pension plans.

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