Local teachers rally against proposed changes to pensions

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Local teachers protest proposed changes to their pension plan during a rally in front of area MLA Mike Olscamp's office Tuesday.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – It was pouring down rain but that didn’t stop local teachers from turning out to voice their concerns over proposed changes to their pensions during a rally in front of Tantramar MLA Mike Olscamp’s office Tuesday afternoon.

More than 100 current and retired teachers from the region marched from Marshview Middle School in Sackville to the Minister’s office, calling on Olscamp and other MLAs to “get educated” on the counter-proposal the New Brunswick Teachers Association has made to the provincial government’s plan.

“Mr. Olscamp, I’m informing you today that both sides have a responsibility to come up with a solution for the teachers’ pension issue,” said Blake Robichaud, a service officer with the NBTA, during the rally.

The Sackville rally is only one of many being held across the province this spring, asking the provincial government for a fair pension review. Pension reform talks are ongoing with New Brunswick teachers but the province has already switched several other civil service groups over to a shared-risk model, a move teachers are trying to avoid.

Although Olscamp wasn’t at his constituency office at the time of the rally, the teachers left him some very strong messages to consider.

Doug Stewart, a local teacher and NBTA board member, said teachers are simply asking MLAs to become more informed on the pension reform process and to recognize the significant compromises teachers are willing to make.

“We just want fair consultation,” said Stewart, noting that the new proposal on the table is credible and strong.

Robichaud said both parties need to be able to work together to find some middle ground.

“New Brunswick teachers are willing to make significant changes to their pension plans,” he said, noting they are willing to move to a 50/50 contribution rate. “Therefore, we are requesting the time has come for your government to compromise also.”

Robichaud said Ministers have been telling teachers they should have a shared risk plan because MLAs do; but he pointed out teachers work over 30 years to qualify for a pension and some are now being asked to work more.

“The changes you are proposing here today will affect every teacher in the plan, active and retirees, and have dramatic repercussions on the education system,” he said.

“So we request that you make it a point to understand the proposal ands speak up for teachers.”

Organizations: New Brunswick Teachers Association, Marshview Middle School

Geographic location: SACKVILLE, New Brunswick

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