An editorial in Canada’s Brampton Guardian is taking on the unresolved plight of Nortel Networks pensioners, thousands of whom stand to lose their benefits as their former employer fades into oblivion.
“Nortel pensioners are not some amorphous group of people we don’t know,” wrote Terry Miller on Friday. “Some of those folks are our friends and neighbours, parents of our friends or grandparents who have been retired for a few years and depend on the Nortel pension to live a normal retirement without financial fear. They ask and we should too, why the federal and provincial governments can’t get together and draft relevant collective laws that respect and secure pension? They ask and we should too, why governments don’t ensure that pension funds are separated from the control of the company and be fully funded? These are not trick questions. These are questions that demand immediate attention by the legislature of Ontario and the House of Commons.”
So far, however, the Canadian government has yet to step up and force Nortel to make good on its pension responsibilities. That’s not the case in the United States – in October, the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. seized control of the Nortel pension plan in the United States. That could be problematic for pensioners In the Great White North, though. They fear the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will act to protect U.S. workers’ interests and no one else’s.
Meanwhile, Miller reiterated the dozens of calls for Canada’s elected officials to address the pension situation. The minister of finance has promised to call a pension meeting soon but Miller remained skeptical. Even if the meeting happens, “the minister of finance won’t address the present reality of pension plan failure but only look to future pension legislation,” Miller wrote in the Brampton Guardian editorial. “That is not good enough. Both levels of government need to legislate two things; ensure that pensions in the future are protected and rescue Nortel and other pensioners from the bankruptcy court.”