CANADA - The Ontario government's proposed autonomous governance model for the CAN$35.7bn Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) has been criticised by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
The union’s Ontario president, Sid Ryan, praised the move towards autonomy but said the union would not support the model as it stands.
The proposed model “was soundly rejected by 85% of the active plan members in 2002”, Ryan said. “We are sorely disappointed that the proposed legislation does not give us the kind of autonomy we are seeking. It is not the governance model we are prepared to support.”
The Bill, introduced in parliament by John Gerretsen, minister of municipal affairs and housing, would see an independent corporation - the OMERS Sponsors Corporation - established to govern the OMERS pension plans. The fund would remain subject to the legal and regulatory framework covering pension funds in the province.
Currently, the government is the plan sponsor, appointing board members and having the final say on benefit changes.
Ryan said CUPE and the OMERS Coalition for Pension Fairness would act to ensure the new governance model gave plan members and retirees a “real say” on how their money is invested and how surpluses are used to improve benefits for retirees.
“The government is wrong to attempt to predetermine the outcome of what the new governance model should look like,” he said. “The stakeholders - the unions representing plan members and retirees and the employers groups - should be the ones to decide what governance model should be adopted.”
CUPE is the largest union stakeholder, representing 44% of the OMERS plan members and retirees.
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