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Independent panel to examine pension plan for Nova Scotia teachers

The teachers' pension plan is one of the largest public sector plans in the province
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HALIFAX — An independent three-person panel has been appointed to examine ways of strengthening the pension plan for Nova Scotia's teachers, which had a massive unfunded liability of $1.5 billion as of 2019.

The province says while there is no immediate risk the plan will be unable to meet its pension obligations, it has a shared obligation with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union to address the liability issue.

The teachers' pension plan is one of the largest public sector plans in the province, with 32,647 members, including 13,705 retirees and survivors, 12,979 active members and 5,963 inactive members as of 2019.

Agreed to in October, the panel is to consult with teachers and other plan members before submitting recommendations to make the plan fully funded by Dec. 31.

Members include Elizabeth Brown, a Toronto-based pension lawyer at Brown Mills Klinck Prezioso LLP, Gale Rubenstein, a lawyer at Goodmans LLP in Toronto and Conrad Ferguson, an actuary based in Fredericton.

In a news release Wednesday, Labour Relations Minister Mark Furey said both government and the union want to ensure pensions are there for teachers when they retire.

"The plan deficit is a serious and complex issue," said Furey. "The panel process will allow teachers and other plan members to better understand the challenges and range of solutions and provide their input."

Union president Paul Wozney said having an arm's-length group of experts develop a strategy for the short- and long-term health of the plan is the appropriate approach.

"Restoring the plan's stability in a manner that is manageable for both its members and the province is imperative to the success of this effort," Wozney said in a union news release.

The plan is a defined benefit registered pension plan that provides a lifetime pension benefit upon retirement.

Members include active and retired teachers, as well as members of the Public School Administrators Association of Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Community College Academic Union.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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