Nortel Pensioners Ask Canada to Protect Their Assets

Nortel Networks pensioners in Canada aren’t giving up on their quest for a government rescue and protection of their retirement funds.

Bankrupt Nortel is giving ex-workers no guarantees that their benefits will be available – and that’s particularly hard on the company’s elderly, disabled and otherwise-vulnerable former employees. So, on Wednesday, ex-staff took matters into their own hands, pressing federal officials in Ontario to create an agency to watch over pension plan assets abandoned by insolvent employers, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

Pensioners also want politicians to beef up coverage, guaranteeing availability of the first $2,500 of monthly income, rather than $1,000.

If Canada approves the requests, it will follow in the footsteps of its United States counterparts where the feds have taken over Nortel workers’ pension assets to ensure their accessibility. Lawmakers in Quebec have done the same but there is no protection for workers outside of that province.

Meantime, if Canada doesn’t take action, most pensioners stand to lose at least 31 percent of their benefits. But if the government does act, the Ottawa Citizen reported that a Nortel windup could be delayed, and that would give the stock and bond markets more time to recover – which would be best for pensioners.

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