Suggestions for Letters to MLAs re: LAPP

Members at this years AGM asked if some points for writing MLA’s letters about the LAPP changes could be posted for members to access. Below is a sample letter for you to use. Please do not just copy this letter to your MLA – but make it sound like yourself and perhaps a bit personal. This is only meant to assist you in your letter writing.

* * * * *

Dear [MLA],

I’m deeply troubled by the government’s plan to weaken public sector pensions. I don’t buy the argument that major changes to our pension plans are necessary. It’s true there is an unfunded liability left over from poor returns during the global recession. But half of that liability is carried by plan members, like me, not the government.

The plan boards also have strategy that’s already in place to get rid of the unfunded liability. It seems to be working, so let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.

I also don’t buy government reassurances that the changes won’t have a significant impact on individuals. Regular, guaranteed inflation protection is key to maintaining the real value of benefits. Without it, our pensions may not be enough to keep people out of poverty as they age.

I think the government is ignoring the fact these plans are the cornerstone of retirement security for hundreds of thousands of Albertans. They are modest pensions, nothing like the pensions CEOs and top managers award themselves. But they are enough to allow us to retire with confidence and dignity. Why would you take that away from ordinary Albertans?

Solid pensions like LAPP are also good for the local economy because pensioners spend their cheques in local businesses. And they’re good for employers, because they help attract and retain workers.

I think the government has it’s priorities mixed up. And they’ve misdiagnosed the problem. The real problem isn’t with our public sector pension plans, which are modest and sustainable. The real problem is that 70 percent of working Albertans have no pension at all. Instead of dragging people who have pension down, we should be pulling up those who don’t have them.

In that regard, the real question is why is the Alberta government standing in the way of sensible reforms to CPP. Expanding CPP would address the real problem. Attacking public pensions just makes the problem worse.

For all these reason, I urge you as my MLA to oppose Finance Minister Doug Horner’s plans.

If there is one reform that should be made, and which would do more to ensure the sustainability of our plans than any other single change, that is to grant true independence to the plan boards.

Experience from around the world shows the best plans are the ones run jointly by employers and workers together. They both have the biggest stake in the plans futures, and that gives them a huge incentive to make the best decisions.

Thank you.

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