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General News · 24th March 2010
Claire Trevena
B.C. Liberals Renege on 2006 Promise - Trevena

Cash-strapped social service agencies in Campbell River are concerned the B.C. Liberals may be reneging on their commitment to fund social service worker pension plans, says Claire Trevena, the New Democrat MLA for North Island.

B.C. Liberal Finance Minister Colin Hansen refused to make any commitments in question period this week when asked whether the B.C. Liberals would follow through on their 2006 commitment to enrol community social service workers into municipal pension plans - a deal that was to take effect at the end of this month.

“The B.C. Liberals assured social service agencies in my community that they would cover the employers' costs to fund this pension commitment,” said Trevena. “Those assurances are now unraveling, and the government is wiping their hands of any responsibility.”

Trevena says the potential loss of the funding commitment could cost social service organizations in her community, such as the Anne Elmore Transition House and Campbell River Family Services Society, as much as seven per cent of their salary budgets.

When pressured in question period over the issue, Minister Hansen refused to make any commitments, only saying the government has been working with this sector to look at the cost implications of the transition.

Camille Lagueux, the executive director of the Campbell River Family Services Society, says this is the first time she’s heard that the government is working with the sector.

“I haven’t heard from this minister or any B.C. Liberal for that matter on what is happening with our pension plan commitment,” said Lagueux.

“We’re talking about social service agencies that provide core community services such as shelter for women and their children who are at risk of abuse, crisis intervention and sexual abuse intervention,” said Trevena. “The people who run these programs play an essential role within our community and the government is undermining that by reneging on their commitment.”

Social development critic Shane Simpson says that social service agencies in every community across the province will be impacted if the B.C. Liberals renege on the agreement.

“What we know is that this commitment comes due on March 31,” said Simpson. “What we know is that after the offset of existing RRSP money, there's a $12 million unfunded commitment this year and a $20 million unfunded commitment next year for over 200 organizations across this province.

“I’m calling on the finance minister to stand up for these frontline workers and tell them they won't have to face yet another download from the B.C. Liberals.”

Carole James and the New Democrats have been holding the B.C. Liberals accountable for breaking their word on the HST, and for backtracking on their election promises to protect health care, education, and other vital services.