Nortel Pensions and Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act Amendment Fall 2009 Update

CARP has called for changes to better ensure the solvency of pension funds such as a prohibition on contribution holidays and enforcement of deficiency funding obligations as well as legislating a priority for pensioners in the event of a bankruptcy or insolvency. Click here to view a copy of CARP’s Pre-Budget submission to the Standing Committee on Finance. As such CARP has been on the record in support of Nortel Pensioners. Click here to listen to Susan Eng discuss Nortel pension issues on Goldhawk Fights Back.

CARP members also mobilized to support the Motion to increase OAS, GIS, CPP and enhance retirement security. One of the measures listed in the motion was to ensure that workers’ pension funds go to the front of the line of creditors in the event of bankruptcy proceedings. The motion was passed in a historic 294-0 vote. In the days leading up to the vote CARP members issued more than 6,000 emails to their MPs via CARP’s E-VOICE. The leaders of all four parties each received over 200 e-mails while Finance Minister Jim Flaherty received over 500.

Click here to view a copy of CARP’s callout to members.

Click here to see the results of the vote

October Parliament Hill Rally in Support of Nortel Pensioners

A Parliament Hill rally in support of Nortel pensioners is planned for October on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The current Nortel solvency hearings highlights the risk that all pensioners bear should their company become bankrupt. While the Nortel pension plan is provincially regulated, the bankruptcy laws are federal and override any provincial pensioner protection. This rally is not just for former Nortel employees and their families and friends, but for all pensioners and members of the public that are outraged by what is happening to the Nortel pensioners. It could happen to you! For those outside of Ottawa, bussing will be available at a nominal fee from the GTA, London, Belleville/Kingston and Montréal. Make your voice heard. Further details are available on the Nortel Retirees and former employees Protection Committee (NRPC) website at

Petition Presented to Give Priority Ranking to Pensioners

With the fall opening of Parliament on September 14, a group of former Nortel employees presented a petition of over 12,000 signatures to the Parliament of Canada asking for an immediate amendment to the CCAA (Canadian Companies Arrangement Act) and the BIA (Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act) to give preferred ranking to pensioner and other employee claims in the event of company insolvency. While the Nortel pension plans are provincially regulated, under insolvency that payout of pension plan underfunding falls under federal bankruptcy laws. Under those laws, the Nortel pensioner claims will fall to unsecured creditor status; that is their pension claims will compete with the those of the junk-bond holders. “There is a gross injustice here”, said Don Sproule, national chairman of the Nortel Retirees and former employees Protection Committee (NRPC). “When I took a pension, I did so to minimize financial risk in my retirement years. The junk-bond holders invested in Nortel taking into account the very risk of the company becoming insolvent. The CCAA and BIA are a uneven playing field for pensioners. We need our federal legislators to correct this injustice”.

Keywords: pension