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Hey guys & gals,

I'm looking for some help.

Both my girlfriend and I live in the NWT, and will likely reside here for another 15-20 years (I've been here for 3 years and she's been for 1). We both have secure jobs in health care and will have our pension vested when we leave. We decided to stay here because the extra income we earn by living in the north will put us at an advantage when we decide to relocate back down south (not sure which province yet). My only concern is that when we decide to leave, even though our pensions will be transferable, will I lose all seniority and vacation hours when I join a new employer? What other things should I be aware of when I decide to pull the plug and move to another province?

Thanks for your time,
-Steve
 

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Hey guys & gals,

I'm looking for some help.

Both my girlfriend and I live in the NWT, and will likely reside here for another 15-20 years (I've been here for 3 years and she's been for 1). We both have secure jobs in health care and will have our pension vested when we leave. We decided to stay here because the extra income we earn by living in the north will put us at an advantage when we decide to relocate back down south (not sure which province yet). My only concern is that when we decide to leave, even though our pensions will be transferable, will I lose all seniority and vacation hours when I join a new employer? What other things should I be aware of when I decide to pull the plug and move to another province?

Thanks for your time,
-Steve
Steve,

Typically when a person changes employers sick time, senority and vacation time are lost. Therefore, you'd start at the bottom again with a new employer unless you are able to negotiate improvements. Health benefits will also likely change as different employers have different plans and some have no plan at all.

Wages too may change - up or down. A friend of mine who works in a provincial social services job has recently applied to for a Federal Government job. He currently earns at the top of his scale ($67000) and has been told that he'll start at the bottom of the new job ($58000). However, if offered the job he'll take it as the Feds have larger yearly increments than the province and the top of the scale is much higher. Plus, opportunities for advancement are far greater with the Feds than the province and the pension plan is much better.

There is a lot to consider when changing employers. It's great that you're thinking of these things before you actually switch jobs. It's best go into new situations with your eyes open rather than be upset later by changes that you hadn't anticipated.
 

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Think very carefully about giving up a gov't job. That's the carrot that all job-seekers are trying to reach. If you have a pension now, be aware that it is very difficult to find private sector companies that offer these, and when you do find such a company it is very hard to get work there because that's what everyone wants! You could be losing a lot of compounding and growth time from your pension if you do this, and pte sector companies can and will lay off thousands of people in the blink of an eye.

There is a good chance you'll be taking a large financial step backwards if you leave your gov't job. Don't do it.

My opinion.
 

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One thing you may want to keep in mind when you leave is the pension. I believe the health boards, like the GNWT, are part of the federal civil-service pension system (the PSSA). When you leave, your pension amount is based on your 5 consecutive years of highest salary. If you go somewhere else that isn't part of the PSSA, that average salary is indexed to the cost of living until the pension kicks in at age 60. If you go to another PSSA job (federal civil service and a lot of Crowns), you'll likely be getting a lower salary for an equivalent job (the North has its benefits), so your best 5 years average won't start going up until your salary increases past what you were making up north. You are losing the cost of living increase, but you make up for much of that because you are adding additional years to the pension. The thing you you'd want to really watch out for is leaving the PSSA job in the north, taking a non-PSSA job for many years, and then taking a PSSA job towards the end of your career. The indexing is only done from your most recent departure date from a PSSA job, so in that case you'd wipe out a number of years of indexing that had been building up. Not a hugely common situation, but something to beware of once you leave the North.
 
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