Word still out on pensioners’ funds solution
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.
Labrador West MHA Graham Letto.