1. The agreement to deal with the unfunded pension liability is a good thing for workers and for taxpayers. It deals with a substantial financial problem, which is the bonus for taxpayers, while preserving defined benefit pension plans for workers, which is the big win for them. The costs are relatively modest in terms of increased premiums, averaging, and early retirement age.
2. This is only part of the province’s financial problem. It’s the easiest one to deal with. The others – Muskrat Falls and the embedded unsustainable overspending – are much larger financially and it will fall to the next administration after the Conservatives will have to deal with. Coming to grips with them won’t be easy by any means.
At least Tom Marshall took care of the problem he created. In an interview with CBC on Tuesday, Marshall tried to blame others for the problem and claim credit for fixing it for himself, but as with pretty much everything a provincial Conservative politician says, nothing could be further from the truth.
Efforts to deal with the unfunded liability started in 1997. A decade later, the problem with less than half the size it is today. Instead of dealing with it then, Marshall began the program of fiscal mismanagement that ballooned the unfunded pension liability and added all the other financial mess that we’ll be cleaning up for decades to come.
3. The St. John’s Board of Trade, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and other similar lobby groups should be ashamed for providing false information to the public while pretending it was truthful and unbiased. Even in an election year, some politician would be doing a public service by issuing an appropriate tongue-lashing to the crop of bullshit-mongers running those two groups. The Board of Trade in particular has a lot to answer for. They have screwed taxpayers twice; first by being party to the Muskrat Falls mess and then by attacking public sector workers with falsehoods.