Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


March 24, 2010

Community social services worker pension plans

S. Simpson: Yesterday the Finance Minister avoided questions concerning the funding of pension plans in the social service sector. He did this by claiming there was a tentative agreement that was subject to ratification. This is simply not accurate. There is no bargaining, and there are no agreements other than the one the B.C. Liberals signed in 2006. 

In March 2006 the government committed to fund the pension plan it negotiated. The affected agencies would never have ratified that agreement without such a commitment. In March of this year the B.C. Liberals broke that promise, creating a $32 million liability for these agencies over the next two years. With no bargaining to hide behind, will the Finance Minister commit today to funding the pension plan they negotiated?

...

S. Simpson: Between yesterday's question period and today, I have spoken to the agencies, and I have spoken to the unions. They all tell me there is no bargaining going on, and there is no discussion around this. The agreement comes up March 31 — the commitment. This minister is sitting on his hands and not supporting these agencies. 

On March 24, 2006, the deputy from the Ministry of Children and Family Development told these agencies in writing: "I will direct MCFD staff to work with the funded agencies to ensure that appropriate funding to reflect increased compensation negotiated in the social service sector agreement flows to agencies." On that basis, these agencies voted for the collective agreement. 

In March of this year the government broke that promise and told these 200-plus groups that they would have to cut services and lay off staff to pay for this agreement. 

The minister owes these groups and these workers an answer. Is he going to keep the government's promise and fund this pension plan, or should those agencies start slashing staff and slashing programs next week? 

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