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Bill 12: NWT legislature to hold public review of pension bill

A controversial pension bill is the focus of a public review Thursday night.

Local union groups will head to the Legislative Assembly to hear the Standing Committee for Government Operations dissect Bill 12.

Union leaders say the proposed Northern Employee Benefits Services Pension Plan Act could let administrators cut back benefits from people who retire.

The bill affects about a thousand workers, including Yellowknife city staff and YK1 school board teachers.

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The president of the NWT Teachers Association, Gayla Meredith, is worried that the proposed bill could see benefits for teachers change over time when she wants them to stay fixed.

“In its current state, Bill 12 opens up the doors to taking NEBS from a defined benefit plan to a target benefit plan which changes the risk. It’s no longer a shared risk since it would transfer risk to the employees,” Meredith told Moose FM.

“We want to ensure that the plan, as it stood when we negotiated the contract with YK1 members, remains a defined plan. We’re looking for some changes in the legislation that would accommodate that.”

Bill 12 was released publicly last February, when it received first and second reading in the legislature.

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Meredith says she welcomes legislation, but that she’s unwilling to accept the bill as it stands.

“We do support the legislative framework since it’s definitely there for us as well. There are just areas that change what the plan was when we first got into it – from a defined benefit plan to a target benefit plan.

“We’re hoping to see the points we’ve raised addressed so that we can move forward and have income security in retirement for the members of the plan.”

The standing committee could make amendments to the bill Thursday night to reflect union concerns.

MLAs will be able to debate the amendments further before a final vote on the bill.

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