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Securing our Future

Agreement explores new pension options to put nurses in control

After salaries, the most important item in nurses' overall compensation is our pension. Wages and premiums support nurses during our working years but it's our defined-benefit pension that guarantees a retirement income while we're alive.

But changes occurring within public sector pension plans could soon affect the majority of nurses in BC. In 2018 the Public Service Pension Plan made substantial plan design changes by increasing the number of years that some 3,000 registered psychiatric and community nurses must work to get an unreduced pension. BCNU anticipates that a 2019 review of the Municipal Pension Plan (MPP) will cause similar adverse pension changes to nurses.

Most nurses are in the MPP, where we have over one-third of assets in the plan but only one vote on the 16-member board of trustees. That means nurses have no real control over our investments or future retirement benefits.

This is a governance problem that's negatively impacting nurses right now. For example, in 2016 the MPP board capped members' inflation protection at 2.1 percent even though real inflation in 2018 was higher.

In response, BCNU wanted nurses to receive full inflation protection by accessing the Retiree Benefit Fund that was set up in 2008 for this very purpose, and which currently holds about $250 million. Unfortunately, MPP rules will not allow nurses to receive this additional protection.

Problems like this need to be fixed. That's why the bargaining committee negotiated a mechanism to study a separate pension fund for nurses. This tentative agreement gives nurses important options on the future of our pension, and the choice is ours: do we vote to study forming a separate pension plan that we control, or do we vote to leave control of our retirement with others?

UPDATE (Dec 2018)
Updated: 1/8/2019 9:08 AM

Changes occurring within public sector pension plans could also affect the majority of BC’s nurses who are members of the Municipal Pension Plan (MPP). The proposed agreement acknowledges that nurses should have control over decisions about their money and their pensions. Several options exist that would better serve our interests.

Exploratory Process:

Once the tentative agreement is ratified the Pension Review Committee will be established. The NBA and HEABC will each have three representatives on the committee.

The committee will request an actuarial analysis, and within six months of receiving the report they will recommend one of these options:

  • Establish a new Nurses’ Pension Plan.
  • Establish a separate investment pool and governance body within the MPP.
  • Maintain the current MPP.

MEMBERS VOTE All active and retired members will vote to determine what option we choose. Our defined benefit pension investments will continue to be administered by the BC Pension Corporation and current MPP members will enjoy legal protections ensuring there are no changes to their pension as a result of this process.

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