The New Brunswick government has introduced legislation to transfer five of its defined-benefit public sector pension plans to shared-risk plans, saying the move will ensure the sustainability of plans that have become unaffordable.

Premier Blaine Higgs says that under the legislation, the shift would be mandatory, meaning the proposed law would override provisions in collective agreements that guarantee union members a defined-benefit plan. 

Higgs says his Progressive Conservative government had tried to work out a deal with public sector unions, but he said it became clear the negotiations were headed nowhere as deadlines came and went.

The premier says the majority of government pension plans were shifted to shared-risk models 10 years ago, and since then the plans have performed well, adding 23 per cent to cost of living allowances since their inception.

By comparison, he says, the remaining defined-benefit plans — three of which he described as unviable — added between 16.5 per cent and 20 per cent to cost of living allowances.

The proposed change would affect 7,800 active pension plan members and would allow another 2,500 part-time employees to participate in a pension plan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2023.