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Spotlight on Finance

From Executive Secretary-Treasurer Jason Heistad

Nov 09, 2021

By Jason Heistad, AUPE Executive Secretary-Treasurer

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As AUPE’s Executive Secretary-Treasurer, I sit on the sponsorship board of the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP), along with AUPE Vice-Presidents Susan Slade and Mike Dempsey. AUPE President Guy Smith also sits on the sponsorship board of the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP). It’s my pleasure to announce that we have some good news for AUPE members who are part of those pension plans.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2022, AUPE members who contribute to the PSPP and LAPP will have their contributions reduced, leaving more money on their paychecks. Their benefits will stay the same.

Members will have a contribution reduction of nearly 1% in both PSPP and LAPP. This means that members who make $70,000 annually can expect to have just under $700 in additional take-home pay through the year. AUPE’s representatives on the LAPP and PSPP sponsor boards pushed hard for this, and the pension boards recently announced the change.

As the cost of living continues to rise, and the provincial government devalues public services, we know that AUPE members are in a tight spot financially. We know that the pandemic has been hard on our co-workers and that every dollar counts. Whether that money goes towards buying groceries, school supplies for our children, or helps us pay down debts, more money in our pockets will help us through these tough times.

That’s why we worked to reduce your contribution—so that you can have more money in your pocket, without any reduction in your pension benefits.

For 25 years, AUPE advocated for workers to have a greater voice on pension boards. In March 2019, that demand became a reality, when the Joint Governance of Public Sector Pension Plans Act (2019), came into effect and instituted joint governance of public-sector pension plans. Under that reform, corporate and sponsor boards for the plans were constituted and their respective fiduciary and sponsor roles were defined.

Through our AUPE representatives at the Sponsor Boards, we were able to secure this reduction. This is why we advocated for joint governance for so long—so that labour representatives on the Sponsor Board can have a real hand in ensuring that members of the pension plans can have a stable retirement at an affordable cost.

Too many Alberta workers cannot depend on the stability that comes with a defined benefit pension plan like PSPP or LAPP, and instead have to hope that stock markets don’t tank their retirements. That’s why AUPE fights for members to have access to defined benefit plans through collective agreements.

When Albertan workers retire, they spend their pensions in their communities, and they stimulate the economy. Having stable, reliable pensions is a benefit to Alberta’s economy as a whole. But more importantly, it’s a promise of dignity for Alberta’s workers.

The people who built this province, and continue to make it run, deserve security in old age.

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