Word still out on pen­sion­ers’ funds so­lu­tion

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - FRONT PAGE - BY EVAN CA­REEN

About 10 Wabush pen­sion­ers sat in the court­room in St. John’s to watch the Supreme Court of New­found­land hear an ap­peal that could greatly im­pact their pen­sions.

The hear­ing, which took place over two days be­gin­ning on Sept. 22, re­lated to the deemed trust clause of the Pen­sion Act. In this con­text a trust is money held by a third party, the trustee, for the ben­e­fi­ciary and a deemed trust is a trust that comes into be­ing by virtue of statute, such as CPP or in­come tax.

Lawyers for the pen­sion­ers ar­gued that un­der the clause the pen­sion should be ranked above other cred­i­tors of Cliffs and, if the hear­ing is suc­cess­ful, could lead down the path to hav­ing the pen­sion­ers funds re­stored.

Gra­ham Letto, MHA for Labrador West, said it took a long time and a lot of hard work to get to this po­si­tion.

“I’m no lawyer so I can’t judge, or pre-judge if you’d par­don the pun, of what the out­come will be but I think our lawyers put for­ward a very strong ar­gu­ment,” he told the Aurora. “I’m very pleased with the ar­gu­ment they did put for­ward, I’m cau­tiously optimistic of the re­sults. What that will be or when that will be re­mains to be seen but it went as I an­tic­i­pated. We knew there would be ob­jec­tions to this, and there were, but the peo­ple in favour of the Wabush pen­sion­ers put for­ward a strong ar­gu­ment.”

The three judges who heard the sub­mis­sions didn’t give a time­line for their de­ci­sion, but will make it in the com­ing months. Letto said the next hear­ing in Que­bec is in Novem­ber and whether this de­ci­sion will be ren­dered by then or not it will im­pact the pro­ceed­ings in Que­bec.

He said the first thing he did when he be­came MHA two years ago was ter­mi­nate this plan since then he has been work­ing on get­ting this mov­ing for­ward.

“What peo­ple re­al­ize, or I hope they re­al­ize, is that what we saw here to­day was an un­prece­dented move by our govern­ment to move this to the court of ap­peal,” Letto said. “We felt as a govern­ment the Wabush pen­sion­ers and re­tirees de­serve that, it’s the least we could do to try to right the wrong that’s been done to Wabush pen­sion­ers by Cliffs.”

This rul­ing could im­pact other com­pa­nies out there in the same sit­u­a­tion, he said and he hopes this will have an im­pact on future fil­ings or any future in­sol­ven­cies in pen­sion plans.

FILE PHOTO

Labrador West MHA Gra­ham Letto.

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