CANADA - The four largest health care unions in Nova Scotia have filed grievances against their employers, alleging they used the unions' pension fund surpluses for their own benefit.
The four unions - CUPE, NSNU, NSGEU and CAW - said they would use “every means at their disposal” to protect their members of the C$2bn Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations’ (NSAHO) pension fund, and claimed health care employers across the province had since 1998 used “tens of millions of dollars” of the plan surplus to make their own contributions to the plan.
Robert Cook, chief executive of NSAHO, responded that it was “extremely unfortunate” the union leaders had taken such “unnecessary” action when the pension plan continued to perform so well financially.
Cook said the fact the plan was fully funded placed it in the top 20% of all pension plans across Canada, and added its benefits were “about twice” what the average Canadian could expect.
“That is why the motivation of the unions’ leaders is so hard to understand.”
Cook claimed NSAHO was confident both the its board of directors and the pension plan trustees had acted correctly “in all accounts” and that their stewardship of the plan was “beyond reproach.
He also disputed the unions’ earlier claim that employers under the NSAHO pension plan had taken a contribution holiday.
“The notion of a contribution holiday suggests a suspension or a reduction in contributions for a temporary period of time and this simply has not occurred,” he said.
“It is correct that due to the plan’s surplus, contribution rates for both employees and employers have been maintained at a level lower than what might otherwise have been the case.
“This is consistent with industry practice and, indeed, it is the responsibility of the board to ensure the plan remains affordable and sustainable over the long term.”
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