CANADA - Unions representing public servants, military and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) personnel have lost a claim for the C$46bn (US$46.5bn) surplus generated in their pension plans.
Justice de Lotbiniere Panet ruled against members of the Public Service, Canadian Forces and the RCMP superannuation plans yesterday, in a case which has been battled in the courts since 1999.
The case related to two claims, the first on the government’s amortisation of a surplus of around $18bn between 1990-91 and 1999-2000. The 18 unions, employee associations and pensioner groups involved in the case claimed they had an equitable interest in the surplus and, because the government was not the owner of the surplus which had accumulated prior to 2000, its action was improper and illegal.
The second claim related to legislation amending the terms of the pension plans, which allowed the government to withdraw around $28bn in surplus from the superannuation accounts.
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), one of the unions involved in the action, argued that one of the main contributors to the surplus was the fact workers were paying into the fund based on calculations that assumed workers were receiving annual wage increases, when they had been subject to a six-year salary freeze in the 1990s.
However, Justice de Lotbiniere Panet found in favour of the government which argued that the superannuation account did not hold assets capable of being subject of legal or equitable interest.
Michele Demers, president of PIPSC, said they were now reviewing the decision and would discuss possible courses of action, including appealing the case.
She said: “The federal government is the only jurisdiction where unilaterally taking the surplus is legally possible but so morally and ethically wrong.”
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