Halifax - On May 12 on News 95.7’s ‘The Sheldon MacLeod Show’, Halifax Water spokesperson James Campbell said, “We have a pension plan that in its present form is not sustainable. We have a $48M unfunded liability and we can’t afford it.”

Campbell used the same figure again on Global TV, May 13.

CUPE Pension Researcher Kevin Skerrett says, “In fact, the Commission’s own Annual Report indicates that the relevant actuarial pension deficit was actually $27 million as of January 1, 2014. The changes and benefit reductions that the union has proposed in bargaining would reduce that deficit down to a level of about $19 million.

“We are left to conclude that Mr. Campbell has chosen to refer to a different calculation of the deficit that sounds much worse but does not actually reflect funding requirements. It is nothing less than deceptive to publicly reference this $48M figure, which inflates the actual problem by more than 40 per cent.

“Most importantly, it is not going to help us get a settlement if the employer is referencing this highly misleading accounting figure that in no way determines pension costs. This reflects badly on the employer’s credibility on the pension issue,” says Skerrett.

CUPE says it is willing to go back to the table, but at this critical point in bargaining, Halifax Water should be more interested in bargaining with its employees rather than ‎attempting to mislead the public. 

Local 227 represents 230 outside workers with Halifax Water, while Local 1431 represents 105 inside workers.