Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Civil servants’ pensions: the judge rejects the first case

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
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Mr. Lévesque’s lawsuit is the first of three lawsuits challenging these changes to obtain a ruling.

The New Brunswick government faced an uproar when it moved to a common-risk pension scheme in 2014 that no longer guarantees fixed-rate retired public servants benefits.

David Allward’s Progressive Conservative government made it clear at the time that the previous model, which included consistent advantages, was becoming unsustainable.

Lawsuits multiply

Three lawsuits have been launched, including the first in 2014 by Pension Coalition New Brunswick. This lawsuit has been suspended pending the outcome of the second lawsuit filed in 2015 by former Deputy Minister Guy Levesque.

His lawsuit alleged that officials’ breach of contract was unlawful.

The third lawsuit was filed by the Professional Institute of Public Service of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Public Officials and has not yet been settled.

Jay Levesque wanted to give up his place

The ruling reveals that Mr Lévesque wanted to relinquish his place as plaintiff to the head of the Pension Alliance organisation, Claire Lepage, in 2020. This request was denied.

In addition, the judge noted that it was not possible for Ms. LePage to include in a new statement arguments that the new pension law violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Finally, Judge Doerr agreed to the request of the governorate and the other defendants in this case to issue a summary judgment because there was no reason for the trial.

Immunity protects the accused

In this summary judgment, it is stated that Mr. Lévesque and Mrs. L Page have not shown that the changes made by the Government have caused them harm. For its part, the Prefecture submitted documents showing that Mr. Levesque and Ms. Lepage benefited from higher pensions after implementing the new plan.

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Finally, the judge noted that other than these arguments, provisions of the Pension Benefits Act grant immunity to government, unions and administrators.

The court orders Mr. Lévesque to pay $10,000 to each of the defendants, the county, unions and administrators.

Who are the accused in this case?

Defendants in this case include the District of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Union, the New Brunswick Nurses’ Union, local 37 International Brotherhood of Electric Workers (“Union”), Marilyn Quinn, Susie Proulx-Daigl, Ross Galbraith, Leonard Lee White, Ernest L. McKinnon and Mark Judit and Vestcore Inc (“Directors”).

Disappointment for Guy Lévesque

Mr. Lévesque’s attorney, Gavin Giles of McInnes Cooper, said in an email that The client is, of course, disappointed with the result of this very long and complicated procedure.

However, our client is grateful to the court for the attention it paid to his file and for its very accurate decision on costs, which appears to have recognized in good faith the public interest of our clients in the procedure he employedAdds me Giles.

Pensions Coalition spokesman Clifford Kennedy, contacted with Radio Canada, said the board would review the decision and no further comment would be made at this time.

The province had not responded to Radio Canada’s requests as of this writing.

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