Announcement from the government

Dalhousie has just received word from the Government of Nova Scotia that the University Pension Plan will be receiving full and permanent solvency relief.

This development is promising. The Board’s negotiating team now has this information, and it’s important that all parties continue talking.


  1. melanie says

    would be nice if you gave a little bit more information. what does this mean.. no strike or strike. i’m getting tired of all this talking that means absolutely nothing.

  2. Details please says

    Was this a favorable response to the earlier request to the gov’t (supported by the DFA) that the university be exempted from the solvency test altogether, regardless of the governance structure of the plan? Or is it based on an expectation (or requirement)that the pension plan become a JSPP?

  3. Janet says

    I am very annoyed with all of this. Stop circling around and pretending you are telling us something. Make an actual decision and let us know ASAP. By This I mean is there a strike or not? I could care less about the “details” which are hardly details.

  4. Ella says

    I’m not sure what this means … but reading all info to the right it seems this is what they were trying to achieve by introducing the JSPP in the first place. So from what I can discern this is good news? Unless of course the union is still unhappy about the actual structure within the plan. Just because the proposed plan achieved permanent solvency doesn’t mean that the actual structure of it is agreed upon …

    Or am I completely off base?

  5. LTech says

    I’m with Melanie and confused on this one – come on now, you keep advertising that this is the page to go to for updates on the negotiations, and I expect that to mean updates on the likelihood of a strike happening, and when it’s going to happen. Does this mean no strike? Does this mean they’ll delay the strike to discuss what it means? I realize that the admin may not be on good speaking terms with the head of the DFA, but at least TRY to give us useful information.

  6. Kyra says

    I’m uncertain but I think it equates to a bail out. The pension plan fund was insolvent meaning that the university owed more to faculty than it had in the fund. What I don’t know is how this cois can continue permanently. Without knowing the details, it seems to me that the government is offering to cover what the university owes but without reform that means the government has just made a permanent promise to cover Dal’s pension debts. Doesn’t seem sustainable to me…

  7. Abdullah H. says

    Can you tell us if this means strike is on or off?

    I am trying to plan a vacation and I need to be certain that the strike is happening.

  8. M Bob says

    Folks I was surpised at the relatively terse and negative response to this.

    Here’s how I understand it:

    The solvency deficiency – that is the deficiency if Dal closed down immediately was pegged at ~$50 M and gave rise to the need as per Government legislation to move to a JSPP to obtain exemption. The parties couldn’t agree on what the JSPP that might look like.

    It appears that the requirement to move to a JSPP for exemption has now been removed. The parties can now move to one if they can agree on it however the $50M sword is not above our collective heads.

    It is not the total solution, but it is good news.

  9. Stunned says

    Wow – I’m shocked that so many people are questioning what this means. Are the majority of you not university students? I am a young Dal alumnus and am saddened by your ignorance.

  10. Tired of being Confused! says

    How much is it to ask for a solid answer, this has been going on for a month now! It would appreciate a solid answer, or at least an answer that doesn’t create a circle, no strike… strike… strike forever… Seriously Brace up and help us out with a clean answer!

  11. Dave says

    Both the Board and the DFA have referred to this announcement as ‘good news’. That must be a positive sign.

  12. m says


    If I recall correctly (and I might not, anyone can correct me if I’m off), there were two solvency tests. One was whether or not the pension had enough assets to pay out commitments if Dal closed its doors and closed up shop permanently tomorrow. That’s what this solvency relief is about. In that scenario, there was a large shortfall that would have had to be made up quickly.

    There’s still another solvency test that ensures that the pension has enough assets to pay out what it needs to over time assuming Dalhousie continues to operate. There’s still a shortage there and that will need to be dealt with, but it’s a smaller dollar figure and involves a less catastrophic payment than the other solvency scenario.

    Permanent solvency relief likely means that the province has agreed that Dal won’t shut down permanently anytime in the foreseeable future and doesn’t need to meet that test. There’s no bailout from the province and there’s still a shortfall to deal with, but it’s a more manageable shortfall.

    I’m not an authority on these topics, I’ve just been listening a lot over the last couple of years as the pension discussions have gone on.

    What this means with regards to a strike is impossible to tell right now. That depends on the parties at the negotiating table because despite solvency relief, pension issues still exist.

  13. Relieved says

    This means the University no longer has leverage to change the pension plan. If the plan does not have to abide by solvency rules (ie. if Dalhousie went bankrupt, would they have enough money right now in the plan to pay everyone in the plan the money they invested) then it is not under funded therefore there is no reason to change it.

  14. probablyunhelpful says

    The government is not offering to cover anything. It simply means that the pension fund is exempt from a basic type of solvency test. Plainly speaking, “solvent” means if you sold all the assets of the fund you could cover all the liabilities. This type of test isnt very useful for an institution like Dal, that will not go out of business in the short term, and a vehicle like a pension fund, which does not pay out all its benefits at one time. More sophisticated tests are required in this type of situation to measure whether a university pension fund will actually be able to cover its obligations over the long term

  15. Chris says

    From my understanding, this means Dal will not be required to top up the pension shortfall (likely to be taken from its operating budget) to make the current pension plan solvent at this point. Dal was granted temporary relief last year and was essentially told to find a way to make the plan solvent. Permenant releif in effect means that Dal will not have to top up the shortfall from the current way the pension is handled.

    This is excellent news for everyone at Dal. Dipping in to operating budget would have surely meant job losses, cuts to services and programs and much much more. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change the fact the current penison model is unsustainable in this current economic climate. I encourage all employees at Dal to keep up the discussions about more sustainable way of looking after your future.

  16. conge says

    @Kyra: It is not a bail out. The province has tests that corporations with pensions must meet, one of them is the solvency test (i.e. your pension must have enough money to meet its liabilities). Universities are often exempt from these test, but not in NS. It just means that Dal can run a completely unsustainable pension, if they want. And the union, it appears, does want that.

    It’s not clear how this will impact negotiations. It could mean that the association will be willing to give up more ground to the faculty because they will have less constraints on how they run the pension.

  17. Haley says

    I am very disappointed with the University I attend right now. I chose this school over many others because I believe this was a respectable university. We students should be treated with the respect we deserve, we made the decision to apply and attend this university and if we didn’t the school wouldn’t have to worry about pension plans because without students the school would not be open. With that said I don’t understand why the university keeps “updating” the Dal community with information that is not clearly stating what is going on between the Board and the DFA. Students need to be told the truth and not what is going to shed a better light on either side. I am disappointed in the Board and the DFA right now, everyone is saying that the student’s best interest is at heart, but both sides are trying to turn the students on the other side. The board is not posting the information on the website that they should be posting, which leaves the students to turn to their professors for answers. Answers that aren’t necessarily accurate. So on behave of all the students, could someone from the university show us the respect we deserve and just be straightforward with us!

  18. Mark says

    It means that there will be NO strike. Permanent solvency means that the pension plan will be exempt from paying 270 million dollars. If you want the real news of this I suggest you go to the Dalhousie Faculty Association website

  19. Nick says

    You people need to calm down. The point of a strike is to force an agreement. If no agreement is reached before the striking date (Mar. 12) there will be a strike. If an agreement is reached beforehand there will not be a strike. Nobody can tell you if there will be and/or how long it will last because an agreement could be reached at any time. Currently we know that the NS government is offering a solution, however this needs to either be accepted or rejected by all participating parties. CALM DOWN, WAIT FOR MORE DETAILS AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE, AND STOP HARASSING THE PEOPLE GIVING YOU INFORMATION.

  20. Donahue Stevenson says

    What’s with Dalhousie’s profs and admins jealously guarding information like a mother bear protecting her cubs?

  21. Lets move on says

    Good, so take the JSPP off the table and lets get on with the bargining so we don’t have to strike!!!

  22. University says

    It means, that there is no urgent need to solve any pension problems, (like there was before this announcement). Yes they will have to fix the plan since it is broken, but this buys them time, so they could solve and discuss these issues after Winter semester. Therefore there is no need for a strike at this moment, as there is not need for JSPP right now.

  23. Ella says

    @Boss … did you not just read the 20+ responses above you?

    My word.

    I didn’t get it but now I do thanks to some educated people (in this area) explaining it.

    Although this is great news it doesn’t mean things are resolved. It depends on the position each side chooses to take now that they’ve heard this. Dalhousie has bit more “wigggle room” in discussion and what they propose since this announcement. Each side could either choose to make slight changes or could try to use this as leverage to get what they think is fair.

    Considering it is Thursday … and Saturday is the official day they can strike, I’d say it will happen (now this is just a guess considering all the info presented) but may not be as long as originally projected by some.

  24. Me says

    This means that Dal will not have to pay back the pension deficit of $270 million back in yearly chunks of $50 million/year.

    I expect there still will be some stuggling of the pension, but this announcement gives both sides some wiggle room to reach some common ground.

    I still expect to pay more into the pension, but in turn for paying more in, we should be assured of no benefits rollback….there…COMMON GROUND!

  25. Charmed says

    I like the fact that I get extra time on my assignments due next week.

    We’ll see if it’s worth redoing the term next year.

    -Charmed Student

  26. curious says

    SO just curious. The government cuts 25 m so that our tuition costs rise by 3%, yet has money for this?

  27. just asking says

    Just a question…what happens if there is a change in government? Does this offer from ‘the present’ gov’t still stand,or can the next gov’t elected go back on ‘the promise’ ?

  28. Mack says

    I can’t believe the lack of understanding of the issues. Everybody seems to have an opinion based on rumour and conjecture. In my opinion these updates have been very clear. You don’t even know what unions are in negotiations and who they represent. There are three unions affected by pension issues. Two unions are in conciliation and are in a count-down to a strike – DFA (yes, they are a union!), and NSGEU local 77 representing technical and admin support. NSGEU Local 99 (cleaning personnel and trades) have not even started negotiations yet.

  29. No Difference says

    Although the provincial government’s announcement is certainly good news, it seems irrelevant in the context of the dispute unless the administration entirely abandons the idea of a JSPP and returns to the perfectly good pension provisions in the collective agreement. The announcement is irrelevant because the DFA had agreed to a JSPP to get solvency relief anyway, and that was not good enough for the administration. So all this means is that now the JSPP is a total red herring — the battle is over control over benefits in the plan. In addition, the other unions would have to sign on to the JSPP as well as the DFA, so even if the DFA totally capitulates, the JSPP will not be settled until all the unions agree to it!

  30. Sophie says

    As a student, I would like to echo Haley’s comments.

    The lack of information on this blog is appalling. What would be so awful if it simply stated something like:

    (1) At [time of day], the province said this. Here’s a link to a copy of the memo received, and what “solvency relief” actually means.

    (2) Negotiations started at [time] and ended at [time] today. We expect a statement at [time] today. For Friday, the negotiations are scheduled to start at [time] and end at [time]. By [time] we will be posting a statement of whether there will be a strike on the 12th.

    What exactly do the administration’s lawyers find so objectionable about clear and precise statements?

  31. David says

    To all the people wondering what that means: originally, the university administration wanted to force the profs into accepting a much worse pension plan – both financially worse as well as worse in terms of decision-making power. The argument the university administration used for this was that it was “necessary” because of provincial legislation. In fact the university administration, for many months, declined to negotiate anything else – they first wanted to force a bad pension deal on profs, and then move on to force a bad salary deal on them. Now of course this argument is moot, which is good news for the profs. If the university administration is willing to come up with an acceptable offer over the weekend there will be no strike, if the university administration continues to be unreasonable then there will be a strike. Simple as that. Unfortunate for students, but in fact quite a good labour relations case study.

  32. Hopeful says

    So, will the administration now do the right thing and drop its demands for their “new” pension plan, and negotiate a fair contract with each union without having them strike for it? And then, will you let the Pension Advisory Committee deal with any other pension issues afterward, with all the unions and interested parties at the table at once to talk together and work it out together (as it should have been all along)?

  33. Annoyed says

    If you don’t know what this means maybe just look it up?

    And stop looking for a clear answer. They can’t tell you if there is for sure a strike or not because they are still negotiating. Obviously they will let you know if a deal is made and strike is avoided.

  34. Geist says

    It would be helpful if the two or three negotiating parties provided answers to our questions on this site (or another site), and shed some more light on the subject.

    General information is not always as clear as answers to specific questions.

    If we argue blindly, we will not solve anything.


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