Toronto–Today, municipal and school board retirees called on the Ontario government and on Premier Ernie Eves to ignore recommendations for autonomy and governance of OMERS (Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) made by the maverick executive board that runs their pension plan. Instead, they want the government to allow the unions and associations that represent their interests and their employers to be given adequate time to negotiate real decision-making control of OMERS, which is the third largest pool of investment capital in the country.
The retirees, who are among the nearly 300,000 active and retired members of OMERS, say their interests are being compromised by a board more interested in doing the government’s bidding in protecting the interests of the taxpayers than safeguarding the interests of plan members and retirees.
Along with the leadership of their unions and associations, the retirees held a media conference at Queen’s Park, where they outlined their concerns that the unaccountable OMERS board and the un-elected OMERS bureaucrats have scuttled negotiations between employers and employee groups and are cutting a deal with the government that compromises the interests of pensioners and may ultimately hurt the stability of the pension fund.
“It’s the interests of OMERS retirees, many of whom are living in poverty, that the board should be protecting. Premier Eves should know the OMERS board, and ministers in his own government, have been cutting deals with the police and fire members of OMERS that may be in violation of the Income Tax Act.
“It’s a deal that will result in lower paid workers, such as school board custodians and municipal roads workers, subsidizing the retirement incomes of higher paid workers like police and firefighters. No one group in OMERS should be getting special treatment over another. It’s just not fair,” said Sid Ryan the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the union which represents the majority of OMERS members.
Ryan and the coalition are also concerned that the OMERS board is allowing the government to use the billions of dollars of the OMERS surplus as a provincial slush fund for municipalities and schools boards.
“This money belongs to the plan members and retirees whose wages have built up the plan. The government should be providing municipalities and school boards with adequate funding. It should not rely on the dollars from the OMERS contribution holiday as a means to fund public services. And if Premier Eves is serious about instilling a more responsive, inclusive government, he should begin by listening to the plight of OMERS retirees, who are receiving meager pensions,” said Ryan.
Coalition partners and retirees from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), the Municipal Retirees’ Organization Ontario (MROO), and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), joined Ryan at the media conference.
For more information please contact:
Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications