Association québécoise des retraité(e)s des secteurs public et parapublic (AQRP)

Association québécoise des retraité(e)s des secteurs public et parapublic (AQRP)

February 20, 2009 10:00 ET

Caisse de dépôt et placement: Retired public servants demand a commission of inquiry

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - 20 feb. 2009) - The Association québécoise des retraité(e)s des secteurs public et parapublic (AQRP), Quebec's largest independent association representing retired public employees, is demanding an inquiry into the responsibility borne by the officers who set the investment policies that led to the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec's expected losses for 2008. The AQRP also insists that the commission's mandate include determining whether the Caisse's use of asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) was consistent with investment policies approved by these officers.

"The Caisse de dépôt et placement's expected losses for 2008 will be of historic proportions. Along with other citizens of Quebec, retirees want to know where the responsibility for these losses lies. We believe that only a commission of inquiry can properly shed light on the situation," said Madelaine Michaud, President of the AQRP.

For public and parapublic pension plans, the law requires that retirement committees establish investment policies, which the Caisse must follow. According to the Caisse, it is the officers of these committees who bear responsibility for approving the level of risk it applies in managing their assets. Members of the retirement committees are drawn primarily from the government and union sectors.

"The global financial crisis has demonstrated that the risks taken by the Caisse de dépôt et placement were too great. Since the retirement committees set investment policy, and since those committees consist primarily of government and union representatives, we believe that government and unions should share most of the responsibility for the losses incurred last year by public and parapublic pension plans," Michaud added. "We are demanding an inquiry in order to determine whether that presumption is correct."

According to the most reliable current estimates, the Caisse is likely to report a loss of 20 to 26 percent for 2008. Private pension funds have experienced an average loss of 16 percent.

Public and parapublic pension fund assets accounted for approximately 55 percent of the $155 billion managed by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec as of December 31, 2007.

About the AQRP

The AQRP is Quebec's largest independent organization representing public and parapublic retirees. Founded in 1968, the organization now numbers nearly 24,000 members who are retired from the Government of Quebec, the Government of Canada, crown corporations, Quebec municipalities, and the Quebec health and education systems. Its primary aim is to maintain the quality of life and purchasing power of retired persons.

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