Employers and employees in New Brunswick will pay more into their pensions and wait longer to collect them, under changes announced in the province today.

In a show of unity rarely seen, Premier David Alward sat alongside union leaders as he announced the changes to New Brunswick's pension system Thursday.

Alward laid the foundation for changes that will see employees pay more, but not qualify for benefits until later in life, saying existing plans are not sustainable.

"People are not working as long, people are living longer and the markets have not been as strong as the original plans had called for," says Alward.

Alward says the changes will help the province to avoid large unfunded liabilities that have plagued some plans. The new system was developed by a task force that included members from several public sector unions.

"We kept the conversation around the values and the goals, making sure it met the mandate of sustainability and affordability," says Marilyn Quinn of the New Brunswick Nurses Union. "That was in the interest of the unions, it was in the interest of the province."

Political opponents say the government's plan appears positive and progressive at first glance.

"Seems to be a buy-in from certain unions, now mind you some of the unions are unions where the pension plan is in major difficulties, so I'd like to hear from the other unions as well," says Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault.

"It's a great example of unions and public sector and the government working together to achieve the right results for New Brunswick," says NDP leader Dominic Cardy.

Alward says the changes will extend to public sector workers and MLAs and is hoping the private sector sees the value in the changes as well.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell