Backdown on changes to pensions by Alberta government

Alberta government prorogued, spelling end for pension bills

CBC News Posted: Sept 18, 2014 12:12 PM MT Last Updated: Sep 18, 2014 4:58 PM MT

Alberta’s legislature was prorogued Thursday morning — a move that has killed two controversial pension bills the province says will not be reconsidered.

The government is set to return Nov. 17 when the session will start with a speech from the throne.

Prorogation means that the two pension bills — Bill 9 and Bill 10 — will die on the order paper. The government says it will not reintroduce those bills in the next sitting.

The bills, which would make significant changes to private and public pensions, was met heavy resistance from labour groups.

The move also gives Jim Prentice more time to call byelections. Prentice himself does not hold a seat in the legislature, and neither do two of his newly-appointed cabinet members.

“Premier Prentice has told Albertans that members of cabinet who are not currently MLAs will seek seats in byelections so they can represent Albertans and the government in the legislature,” Government House Leader Diana McQueen wrote in a release announcing the prorogation.

She said more details about byelections will be released at a later date.

Fightback against attacks on public pensions: Tens of thousands of Quebec workers protest pension reforms
Tens of thousands of Quebec workers protest pension reforms

Public service workers protest proposed pension cuts during a demonstration Saturday, September 20, 2014 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz ORG XMIT: RYR106

Photograph by: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL — Tens of thousands of blue-collar workers from across Quebec — many of them bringing their children — marched through the streets of downtown Montreal on Saturday afternoon in the city’s noisiest demonstration since the student protests of 2012.

Organized by the Coalition pour la libre négotiation, the demonstrators were protesting against Bill 3, the proposed law that would hike their pension contributions to make up for deficits in many municipal plans. They blew horns and waved flags, marching from Lafontaine Park to Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard’s offices on McGill College Ave., where union leaders warned they won’t give up their pension rights without a hard fight.

“If you want a confrontation, you’ll get one,” one union leader shouted to roars of approval from the crowd.

Bill 3 has already resulted in a number of pressure tactics, including Montreal police officers swapping their uniforms for camouflage pants and the ransacking last month of city hall. That protest led to criminal charges being filed against 41 members of the firefighters’ union.

“Mr. Couillard, your social dialogue is nothing but an anti-social monologue, a boss’s discourse,” Daniel Boyer, president of the Quebec Federation of Labour, told protesters.

“One word: never. Never will we allow you to trample upon our pension rights. We have a pension plan that we want to keep. Every Quebecer has the right to live a pleasant life in retirement.”

To date, however, Couillard has said the government doesn’t expect to make major changes to Bill 3.

Hamilton City Council calls mail boxes: “inconvenient and inaccessible, especially for seniors and persons with mobility issues.”

Sep 04, 2014 

Councillors don’t want Canada Post’s ‘superboxes’

Hamilton Spectator

By David Churchill

City council won’t put its stamp of approval on Canada Post’s plan to expand the use of community mailboxes across the city.

Councillors Thursday approved a motion which called the community mailboxes “inconvenient and inaccessible, especially for seniors and persons with mobility issues.”

The motion, moved by councillor Terry Whitehead, also raised councillors’ concerns about break-ins and theft at the boxes.

Canada Post plans to convert more than 36,000 homes across the Mountain and Stoney Creek from home delivery to the “superboxes” later this year.

The plan didn’t sit well with city councillors, who argue the federal postal service’s cost-cutting measure will create hardship for their constituents. About 50 other municipalities have taken similar stances opposing the move.

Whitehead called the plan “short-sighted thinking” and said he had sympathy for seniors in the city’s older neighbourhoods.

“Many of these people bought their homes knowing they had home delivery,” he said.

Councillor Brian McHattie said “in many ways Canada was built on a strong postal service” and expressed concern about the economic impact of job losses on Hamilton.

“We are trying to create jobs — not lose them,” he said.

While the city has no say in how Canada Post operates, in this case it does have a say in where the boxes will be located. Councillors asked staff to report back to the General Issues Committee on what options the city has to either prevent or regulate where the boxes can go.

Terry Langley, acting president of the local Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said Canada Post has only lost money once in the past decade and that was during a year when postal workers were locked out in 2011.

“(Canadians) deserve better from the post office,” Langley said. “They deserve better from the post office they own.”

Councillor Tom Jackson agreed, saying he didn’t understand the need for Canada Post to make a profit. He also hoped there would be an “outcry” against the plan during the next federal election campaign.

The postal codes targeted for the first phase of the shift in service are those beginning with L8J, L8T, L8V, L8W, L9A and L9C. Other areas of Hamilton and across Canada will see the change within the next five years, Canada Post has said.

About 76,000 households built in Hamilton since the 1980s already use the neighbourhood mailboxes.