Labrador West MHA, Graham Letto, says the fight continues for pensioners affected by the area’s downturn, but work will also have to be done to diversity the economy.
It’s been two years since Wabush Mines shut down and communities are struggling.
“We have stepped up to the plate with Wabush as a government … we’re working very hard to find some resolutions to the issues that exist up there, especially around the pension plans, finding a new buyer for Wabush Mines,” said Letto.
When the financially troubled mine, owned by Cliffs Natural Resources, closed in 2014, pension plans were underfunded by about $47 million dollars.
Letto said the big trouble came when a Quebec Superior court gave the company permission to stop paying into the plans until the end of bankruptcy proceedings for its troubled Canadian assets.
“Cliffs has an obligation to fund the pension plan, and they did through our pension regulations, which are some of the strongest in the country,” he said.
“Once Cliffs went into bankruptcy protection through the CCWA [Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act] they were permitted to withdraw those payments.”
Pensioners have faced cuts of up to 25 per cent and more than 900 retirees have lost their medical coverage.
“They knew when Wabush closed their gates in 2014 that the pension was underfunded. It was 16 months later before they went to look for protection,” said Ellen, the wife of a Wabush pensioner who called into CBC’s On The Go Thursday.
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