Committee warns Nortel pensions could be reduced
Canada's 18,000 Nortel pensioners are gearing up for a last-ditch fight to protect their pensions.
An Ottawa-based committee that's been working with pensioners since January says pension and health benefits could be cut by 30 per cent, depending on how Nortel wraps up its business.
A spokesperson for the Nortel Retirees and Former Employees Protection Committee says pensioners are likely to get a note with their next pension cheque, notifying them that they could face reduced pensions and health benefits as the company moves forward.
However, a Nortel spokesperson denies that assertion,
"There is no plan to send out any such notice," Karen Monahan told CTV Ottawa on Wednesday.
The committee is urging pensioners to talk to their MPs and demand the law be changed to protect pension funds.
Tony Marsh, spokesperson for the committee, said Nortel has provided almost no information to pensioners about their plans to deal with the company's financial trouble.
The average pensioner is currently 71 years old. Many only receive about $1,000 per month.
Marsh said they have tracked down more than 1,000 pensioners in Ottawa. However, the real number of pensioners in the capital is likely two to three times that number. Montreal has at least 3,000 pensioners. There are 18,000 across Canada and thousands more in the United States and Britain.
Although Marsh said the committee asked Nortel for a list of pensioners months ago, Nortel is yet to provide that information.
Nortel has admitted its pension fund is short by more than $2 billion, perhaps close to $3 billion.
When the company wraps up its business, pensioners will be in line like every other creditor waiting for their money.
In the meantime, the committee wants the law changed to protect pension benefits. However, they fear time is running out.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Paul Brent