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Proposed Municipal Pension Plan Design Changes Would have Serious Impact on Nurses’ Retirement Future

  • Bulletin; Pensions
Negotiated pension review process gives all nurses the opportunity to choose a path that’s best for them

BCNU has serious concerns about the Sept. 14 Municipal Pension Plan (MPP) Partners' Redesign announcement. The proposed plan changes affect some 38,000 nurses who are active MPP members and are scheduled to come in to effect on Jan. 1, 2022 if approved by the MPP Board of Trustees.

After reviewing the proposal, BCNU has concluded that the plan redesign would have a serious impact on nurses' pensions and their retirement futures, especially those of younger nurses.

The MPP has claimed the proposed changes will result in an improved lifetime pension for the majority of members. However, nurses are not representative of the majority of MPP members.

Given the typical career path of the average nurse, they and their employer would each pay over $250 per year more in pension contributions to fund the proposed pension redesign than they would if the plan were made up of nurses alone.

The proposed redesign removes the bridge benefit, the Rule of 90 (that allows members to retire early if their age plus years of contributory service add up to 90), and more than doubles the penalty for retiring early. These changes mean many nurses will be unable to retire as early as they want. For example, members who retire early will see lower pension payments from the month they retire to the month they turn 65. That reduction alone may make retirement more difficult for nurses.

When considering all three changes, some nurses who chose to retire early could see a loss of lifetime pension income as high as $300,000 compared to what they are eligible for under the current plan rules.

To date, nurses have been unable to prevent these kinds of plan redesign proposals because nurses are a minority within the MPP and have only one vote on the plan's 16-member Board of Trustees.

Nurses, unlike teachers and college instructors who have control over the governance of their own plans, are one group within the multi-sector MPP that serves a range of workers and retirees with varying income levels and needs. That means majority group members, and the unions that represent them, are able to shape the plan's direction and control decisions while not looking out for nurses' best interests.

Nurses are counting on retirement security, but the proposed plan changes would result in fewer choices, a major reduction in pension income for those wanting to retire early and contribution costs for nurses that are higher than they should be – this is unfair.

Fortunately, a review is now ongoing to study pension governance options that would put nurses in control. This review was negotiated during Nurses' Bargaining Association 2019-2022 contract talks in part because BCNU anticipated the pension changes the MPP is now proposing.

A desire for greater control over decisions about nurses' pensions and their retirement future will guide the work of the NBA Pension Review Committee. BCNU will be reaching out to all NBA members – active and retired in the coming weeks and months, where you will have an opportunity to learn more.

In the meantime, please visit www.bcnu.org/pensions.


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