New Brunswick pension changes needed despite strong returns: finance minister

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s finance minister says the government will continue to forge ahead with pension changes despite strong returns in the past year by pension plans for the province’s public service, teachers and judges.

Net assets for the plans reached an all-time high of $10.1 billion as of March 31, 2013, up from $9.4 billion a year earlier.

But Blaine Higgs says despite the good returns, the province still had to make about $140 million in special payments to the plans, and there were pension payouts of more than $305 million.

He says they need to get to a point where extra payments aren’t necessary for the plans to meet their requirements.

The public service plan, which covers about 32,000 people, has a $1 billion deficit and is only about 50 per cent solvent.

The province is moving to a shared-risk model for pension plans where pensions for retirees would be based on average earnings over an employee’s career, rather than just their best years.