Morally Bankrupt Too?

The Sears de­ba­cle and the nurs­ing homes in­quiry

ZOOMER Magazine - - CONTENTS -

WHEN SEARS CANADA filed for bank­ruptcy in July, older work­ers and re­tirees of the once pop­u­lar re­tailer re­acted with shock and anger. As part of its cor­po­rate re­struc­tur­ing, the com­pany will halt some of its pay­ments to its un­der­funded de­fined ben­e­fit pen­sion plan, which means re­tirees will be hit with an un­ex­pected and un­wel­come re­duc­tion in their monthly pen­sion cheques.

Robert Reg­nier, who worked 39 years for Sears, wrote to CARP to share the harsh im­pact on his re­tire­ment in­come that will oc­cur due to the com­pany not ful­fill­ing their pen­sion obli­ga­tions: “I will re­ceive 81 per cent of my pen­sion, los­ing ap­prox­i­mately $2,900 per year. I will lose my health and den­tal ben­e­fits, which will cost us ap­prox­i­mately $2,100 per year. I lose $15,000 of life in­sur­ance. I worked my butt off for this com­pany only to re­al­ize that they are look­ing out for them­selves and to hell with the em­ploy­ees.”

It’s a fa­mil­iar story, says Wanda Mor­ris, CARP’s vice-pres­i­dent of ad­vo­cacy. “When com­pan- ies de­clare bank­ruptcy, pen­sion­ers and their pen­sions are given short shrift,” she says. “The as­sets that are avail­able go to se­cured cred­i­tors and ex­ec­u­tives, who of­ten walk away with their wal­lets un­scathed.”

CARP is calling for an amend­ment of the Bank­ruptcy and In­sol­vency Act and the Com­pa­nies’ Cred­i­tors Ar­range­ment Act so pen­sion­ers rank ahead of se­cured cred­i­tors in pri­or­ity of re­pay­ment obli­ga­tions. It also wants com­pa­ny­funded pen­sion in­sur­ance manda­tory in all prov­inces.

Friends and fam­ily of El­iz­a­beth Wet­t­laufer’s vic­tims speak to the me­dia.

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