Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Letters to the editor: Firefighter dismayed with town's view of OMERS changes
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 18 Jan 2006, p. 10

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Dear editor, I am writing to express my dismay at Halton Hills council's overreaction and misleading of the public over the proposed changes to the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS). To say they would no longer have any say in the governance of the plan is untrue. Municipalities would maintain equal representation on the board with municipal employees. What this legislation allows, is for municipal employees to bargain with their employers changes to their pension plan. It also removes the provincial government's oversight of the plan. The provincial government, as a guarantor of the plan, held the final say over any proposed changes to it, even though they had no employees enrolled and had made no contributions to it. OMERS has proven itself over the past 40 years to be one of the best run and most successful pension plans in the world. The provincial government has seen fit to right a long standing wrong and allow fairness in the OMERS pension plan. As a firefighter, we are one of the groups who have been long pushing for the proposed changes. Police and fire make up 10 per cent of the members of OMERS yet pay 30 per cent of the premiums. We want to get some of our money that has been contributed into our plan back in enhanced benefits. I have seen many of our members die early of occupational disease and we have a greatly shortened life expectancy. We would like the ability to retire earlier at full pension. Any enhancements would have to be negotiated directly with the employer (cities and towns across Ontario). What bothers municipalities is that the tables are no longer unfairly slanted in their favour with their control over the board between provincial and municipal representatives. I am certain with the Town of Halton Hills' track record of failing to properly fund municipal services (especially essential services such as fire protection) that they don't want to make the tough decisions at the budget table, or perhaps have to take money from some of their pet projects that offer little benefit to the taxpayers of Halton Hills. Rick Bonette has lost my support for another term as our mayor. Steven Buckingham, Georgetown

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18 Jan 2006
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Buckingham, Steven ; Bonnette, Rick
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Letters to the editor: Firefighter dismayed with town's view of OMERS changes