TORONTO — Ontario taxpayers are being kept in the dark about potentially billions of dollars in unfunded public pension liabilities, Tory MPP Julia Munro says.
“Adding to our financial pressures are public sector pensions that we have created but now find ourselves unable to pay,” Munro said Friday. “Ontario’s public sector pensions are facing an unfunded liability that could add up to billions of dollars and Ontarians are on the hook.”
The Tories will release a white paper Monday with proposals on “sustainable retirement security.”
Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan made public a report by pension investment adviser Bill Morneau Friday that calls for the pooling of pension fund asset management in the public sector.
“I am pleased to report there is a significant opportunity for pension funds to realize benefits from the economies of scale and other advantages that a pooling framework would generate,” Morneau says in his report. “Implementation of such a framework would reduce duplication and costs, broaden access to additional asset classes and enhance risk management practices.”
There are more than 100 public pension funds in Ontario.
Munro said she doesn’t object to the pooling framework but finds the savings small in comparison to the overall looming problem that public pensions appear to owe their workers billions of dollars more than they can afford to pay out.
“The government must be clear with taxpayers about who is responsible for funding deficits of public sector pensions,” she said. “However, the Liberals will not even admit the scope of the problem or acknowledge the long-term threats to our pension system.”
Aly Vitunski, a spokesman for Duncan, said the Morneau recommendation offers a savings to taxpayers of $100 million.
“The PCs always tell us chase every penny of savings possible, however Munro claims these savings are insignificant,” Vitunski said in an e-mail. “She’s off the mark on this one and by a lot.”