I am puzzled by Finance Minister Wes Sheridan’s short- sightedness in financial management. He and the Ghiz Liberals have us $2-billion in debt and have now added almost another half billion dollars due to a shortfall in the provincial pension plan.
Both the Pat Binns and Robert Ghiz governments have already pumped millions into this quagmire and now Wes Sheridan drops a bombshell, stating he will add $23 million per year for the next 10 years, but claims he is confident the rest of the shortfall will be recouped via market gains in the next three years. Go figure! Wes, I have a news flash: the markets are flat and major countries’ economies are in decline.
P.E.I. and Ontario are tied (behind Quebec) carrying the second-highest debt burden among Canadian provinces and we lack Ontario’s industries. There are cities in California with total populations the same as P.E.I.’s going into bankruptcy due in a large part to their bloated pension plans. Are we headed in that direction? The unions are bragging about their contract negotiating in P.E.I. that gives union members, mostly federal and provincial government workers, around $9.10 per hour more than most Islanders. Wes Sheridan has now initiated another stall tactic attempt to have unions tell him how to solve his pension woes. Why did he involve a group whose members now gain from the defined benefit pension plan? Conflict of interest at its best!
On the positive side, it appears Sheridan is taking a proactive role in solving part of his puzzle. He is cutting programs, laying people off, raising user fees as much as 100 per cent and implementing his biggest legalized underhanded tactic, HST — all to help his government dole out patronage by increasing pension benefits. Wes, if the unions are making the wages they claim and are mostly made up of civil servants, make a change now and have them and your MLAs pay into a defined contribution pension plan. Stop plundering taxpayers — the aged and the poor — who are unable to have their own pensions as you keep squeezing everything out of them to support your gold-plated pension.
Gary A.O. MacKay,