Retiree Report June 2017

Retiree Chairperson’s Report– June 21st, 2017

Things are going good with the “Retirees Centre” and with the Local Union.

Important Change Proposed in Legislation

To start, I would like to talk about the upcoming changes to Ontario’s minimum wage raising it to $15 an hour by 2019.  These increases are long overdue. They are only happening because rank and file activists have been fighting an uphill battle for them for years with little sympathy from the general public, including many people who stand to benefit from such hard-fought gains.  Indeed, this fight began years ago in the United States when fast food workers staged short strikes for pay increases at places like McDonald’s and risked losing their jobs doing so.  A lot of people in Ontario are about to get a big raise.

Don’t believe the Ontario Tories when they whine and say this is about buying votes.  Don’t forget that when the Tories were in power in Ontario they froze the minimum wage for 8 years.  They want you to forget about that.  This is about workers fighting for what is right and winning for a change.

The Ontario government is also increasing the annual paid vacation entitlement from two weeks to three weeks and the minimum wage is going to be tied to rate of inflation too.  The Liberal government is also going to guarantee that workers get paid equal pay for equal work regardless of whether they have full time, part-time or temporary employment status.  By doing these things the Liberals have taken many of the NDP’s demands for the workers and made good on them.

The Liberals are also making big changes to Ontario’s pension legislation.  One of the changes will be to increase the minimum protection for pensions from $1000 to $1500.  The funding rules will change as well.  With respect to defined benefit pensions they will now be considered solvent when they are 85 per cent funded not 100 per cent funded as was the case in the past.

This means that if a pension plan is 85 per cent funded and is forced wind up immediately there will only have to be enough money to pay 85 cents on the dollar in order to meet the pension plan’s obligations.  The government is going to make companies pay more for pensions insurance and not let them not pay like they did in the past.  The government will also be requiring employers to fund a reserve within their pension plans in order to manage risk and keep the benefits secure.

If the plans cannot meet a going concern test of being able to fully fund their present obligations, they will have to make special payments to get to the appropriate funding down from the current 15 years.

We have heard nothing more about the secret Trans Pacific Partnership talks that were being held in a hotel in downtown Toronto.  Hopefully, this means those talks went nowhere.  We have a right to know what the federal government is up to in this regard and they are not telling us. That is wrong and we should not stand for it.

Have a great summer!

Fred Dougan