February 21, 2017
For Immediate Release
What Are Premier Ball and MHA Letto Doing to Help Wabush Mines Pensioners?
Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, says there is no evidence of action by either Premier Dwight Ball or MHA Graham Letto despite the government’s vote in favour of a motion committing to help current pensioners of Wabush Mines, whose pensions were not protected when Cliffs Natural Resources entered bankruptcy protection under the federal Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.
The Liberal government brought forward a resolution in the House of Assembly in 2016 to support the efforts of some Members of Parliament to amend the federal legislation so that, in future, pensioners will be better protected. The PC caucus proposed an amendment to “urge the Parliament to give these changes retroactive effect so the pensioners of Wabush Mines may benefit from this action”. The government supported the PC amendment.
Hutchings said, “The pensioners of Wabush Mines have been waiting too long for action from this government, and the Premier. What actions have the Premier and MHA Letto taken to help the pensioners who were severely impacted? Talk is just posturing unless it is followed by action, but where is the evidence that the Premier, as Labrador’s Cabinet representative, has taken action to address the injustice, abandonment and hardship these pensioners are dealing with?
“If the company’s financial circumstances have improved since 2016, the workers should benefit from that.”
A recent Quebec court decision ruled that Quebec courts would have jurisdiction to decide matters on pensioners in this province. The Quebec court ruled “that it has jurisdiction to deal with the issues related to the interpretation of the Newfoundland and Labrador Pension Benefits Act in the context of the present proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and that it will not refer those issues to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Hutchings said, “This looks like a decision that needs a second look. Perhaps a higher court would reach a different conclusion. Something seems to be wrong when a Quebec court will decide on the application of Newfoundland and Labrador legislation to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Is this fair and just? Is there is an opportunity to assist pension plan members through the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal? Where are Premier Ball and Graham Letto on this issue?”
“This is about trying to restore the benefits of pensions that the Wabush Mines employees spent many years contributing to. They deserve to be protected, just as others who are owed money by the company are protected. The workers who contributed to their pension plan should be among the first to be taken care of, not the last,” said Hutchings.
Director of Operations and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, [email protected]