Thursday, February 12, 2009

And we thought that teachers were mad about the FSA’s!

While professionally the province’s teachers have expressed their frustrations and concerns over the direction of education based on the findings of the Foundation Skills Assessments, we wonder how they must be feeling about the disappearing nature of their pension benefits.

In a thorough investigation of the growing controversy over pensions, The Tyee outlines how pension and benefit packages for the provinces teaching faculties are being scaled back as the new reality of our economic times come to pass.

The first hit has come to pass for the province's retired college and university employees, who have just learned that their cost of living increases and post retirement medical and dental benefits will be a thing of the past.

The extended medical and dental benefits will come to an end in September, the cost of living allowances end in January of 2011.

The changes could soon come to the provinces elementary and secondary school teachers as well, Crawford Killian of the Tyee provides details of a report to the province's teachers that outlines how the future may come to pass as far as their own pension plans develop. The telling quote from the report provides a fine bit of financial prognostication that seems to provide an out should the need arise for pension providers:

"The board cannot make the same promise for future cost-of-living adjustments and groups benefits because the funding arrangement for these benefits is different. Cost-of-living adjustments are paid from a separate account, the Inflation Adjustment Account (IAA), while retiree group benefits are paid from a portion of employer contributions to that account.

"The board cannot increase the money coming into the IAA. At the same time, funds in the IAA are shrinking because the ratio of active members to retirees is declining, health care costs are escalating and investment earnings have been reduced after the recent market downturn."

As the economic times continue to provide surprises on a day to day basis, the current changes to the educational pension plans may just be the template of what is to come for the rest of the province and nation, at least for those that can hang onto their jobs long enough to qualify for pension time.

One thing seems certain though, the pension plans of our parents and grand parents may soon be a thing of the past, these new troubled economic times seem to be providing for new surprises for us to have to deal with, a worrying new direction that seems not to have any easy answers.

The full story from the Tyee can be found here.

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