Friday, December 31, 2010

Nortel US moves to seize $37.9m in deferred compensation

The following story was published on Dec 23rd on the Dow Jones Bankruptcy Review.

As explained to me the program referred to was available to most everybody in the U.S. at JCI 6 (director-level) or higher. Some JCI 5’s were eligible too. The vast majority of participants in this plan were at the director and VP level, not the CxOs or LOB presidents.

Nortel moves to seize $37.9m in executive retirement savings

By Peg Brickley, Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review

Thursday 23 December 2010

Canadian firm says money is part of a 'risky' deferred-compensation plan.

Nortel Networks Corp. moved Wednesday to seize $37.9 million in retirement savings socked away over 10 years by some of its U.S. managers and executives.

The Canadian telecommunications-equipment maker says the money is in a deferred-compensation plan that participants understood was a "risky undertaking," because terms allow Nortel to take the retirement savings if it ran into trouble.

The filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., is couched as a stipulation with the bank that holds the deferred pay and bonuses in a trust account. Once a judge signs off on the settlement, Nortel's papers say, the money executives put away in the trust becomes company property. Nortel named no names in Wednesday's court filing but said the money was put away by "a select group of management and highly compensated employees" in the U.S.

According to the company, the deferred-compensation plan it created in 2000 is a "rabbi trust," which falls outside the protection of U.S. pension laws. Executives were offered an opportunity to delay taking up to 80% of their base salary, and up to 95% of commissions and bonuses, by putting the money in the trust.

The expectation was that they would draw on their earnings after retirement, when tax rates were lower. Nortel says the deal included an understanding that in the event of bankruptcy, the participating executives would get in line with other unsecured creditors to await payment under a Chapter 11 plan.

The fate of deferred-compensation programs in Chapter 11 often depends on how the programs were actually administered. Because they expose earned employee pay to creditors, such programs are supposed to be limited to top executives who presumably have access to professional advice about the risk of participating.

Not all companies might play by the rules, though.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Break

I know this Christmas won't be a very happy time for many people, especially the disabled Nortel people facing major issues next year. During this Christmas-time I hope that for a while we can all put aside our worries and concerns, and focus on our families and get that happiness feeling once again for at least a little while.

I will probably not be posting anything for a few days though if I notice something happening I will make sure it gets posted.

So please check back again after Christmas when I will continue to issue information as I find it and will provide my opinion as I see fit.

Merry Christmas to all my readers, and I sincerely hope that the New Year brings us a lot better than these last two.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

(1) EMEA Claims (2) US Restoration Plan termination

(1) Emea Claims

The Canadian monitor Ernst and Young have submitted their 58th report to the US court outlining a proposal to set a bar date for Feb 11, 2011 for all Nortel EMEA related claims. Most of those claims are inter company and will likely be contentious. They are also a sticking point in terms of settling the division of assets between geographic units of Nortel and it is E&Y's point that these claims need to be identified and resolved before the division of assets can be properly determined.

The report is listed on a docket for Dec 23rd on the Epiq web site.

The process in the report contains a paragraph referencing the claim by the UK Pension Trust, and the UK Pension Protection Fund. This is a little unsettling since that claims was ruled out of line by both the Canadian and US courts last year since it is a UK claim against other country assets. However the UK funds have not given up and are pressing for settlement and have been allowed to participate in the mediation talks on allocating the Nortel assets by geography. Since the claim is huge, ($3B), it could impact us tremendously if allowed to stand.

(2) US Restoration Plan Termination.

After almost 2 full years of not getting paid my non-qualified pension from Nortel US, I received a letter from them, sent through Epiq, basically telling me that the restoration plan has been terminated. The letter also states that any claims related to the restoration plan will be settled through the claim process that was established in 2009. Seems a little late for that information to be arriving. I presume this official termination is a required legal step to meet some ERISA or other employee protection requirement.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Canadian HWT fund distribution

As posted on the Koskie Minsky site:

December 20, 2010 In part as a result of the application for leave to appeal the Court’s recent HWT decision, there can be no full and final distribution of the funds in Nortel’s Health and Welfare Trust before the end of 2010, as was originally hoped. In order to provide interim financial relief for those individuals who are about to experience a cessation of monthly income benefits, the Disabled Employees’ Representative, the Former Employees’ Representatives and the CAW asked the Monitor to bring a motion for an interim distribution to HWT income beneficiaries who are currently in receipt of income benefits.

The Monitor’s motion for an interim distribution was approved by the Court on December 15, 2010. A lump sum distribution of 10% of the present value of eligible beneficiaries’ total income benefit claim to a maximum of 3 months of benefits will be made to income beneficiaries of Nortel’s Health and Welfare Trust (HWT). The Monitor is of the opinion that this level of interim distribution is prudent, reasonable and will not prejudice other HWT beneficiaries or benefits. It is expected that income beneficiaries will receive the interim cash distribution from funds held in the HWT on or around January 31, 2011. The interim distribution will be treated as an advance on income beneficiaries’ ultimate claim to be paid from the funds held in the HWT. Please contact the Monitor if you have any questions

Communique from NRPC Canada re FSM

Text of the communique from NRPC Canada regarding the letter from Ontario PM McGuinty to Don Sproule re the FSM option for the pension.

Toronto, Friday, December 17, 2010

In meetings today with the Ontario Ministry of Finance and FSCO, the National Chair of the NRPC, Don Sproule, was provided with a long sought after letter from Minister Duncan concerning the request by the NRPC to proceed with the Financial Sponsorship Model (FSM) as an alternative to conventional wind-up of the Nortel pension plans. The letter is a conclusion to the second review of FSM ordered by the Liberal Government at the end of September 2010.

Key points covered in the letter:
• Acknowledges the arguments made by the NPRC for greater pensioner choice during pension wind-up; i.e., choice beyond the current conventional wind-up-by-annuity.
• Provides a clear statement of government intention that will allow the FSM RFP respondents to proceed to submitting binding proposals. Although we are still many months away from binding FSM proposals, when they are ready, pensioners will have an opportunity to choose between conventional wind-up and the FSM. Full communication of the FSM will be provided when the selection process has been completed to enable pensioners to make an informed decision.
• By mutual agreement between the MoF and the NRPC, the default pensioner option will be conventional wind-up-by-annuity. Pensioners must make a clear choice if they wish to opt out of conventional wind-up and pursue the FSM concept.

It has always been advocated by the NPRC that for eligible Ontario service, the benefits of the PBGF (Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund) must apply to either option; of conventional wind-up or the FSM. We received corroboration of this today. This is extremely good news for those with Ontario service and we further thank the Minister for this confirmation.

The actions of the NPRC Québec executive have been instrumental in advancing options for Nortel Québec pensioners, most recently with the Nortel specific provisions in Québec Bill 129 put forward by Minister Julie Boulet. At the same time, Ray Hounsell, Québec chair, has been at the table during all the Ontario Government discussions over FSM. With this announcement by the Ontario Government, the Québec executive will be moving forward to see how the elements of the FSM can further improve the lot of Québec pensioners.

In the case of most of the remaining provinces, the NRPC has had early indications that provincial administrations would be willing to consider other wind-up options if Ontario takes the lead. This is now clearly the case and as the details of FSM are fleshed out, we will be taking the proposal to those provincial jurisdictions so that pensioners with service in those jurisdictions will also be given a choice.

We have much work to do, but it’s time to pause here and without going into names thank the many people that got us to this stage: our advisory team from Koskie Minsky, The Segal Co and RSM Richter, the NRPC national executive, the NRPC Québec executive, and all members who attended the rallies at Queen’s Park, signed petitions and wrote to or visited their MPPs and Government Ministers. Special mention goes to the “NRPC 16” who got us a second review of the FSM concept with Premier McGuinty.

Finally, the political process worked and we expressly thank four Ontario MPPs: Charles Sousa, Yasir Naqvi, Bob Chiarelli and Norm Stirling who have worked in support of finding better options for Nortel pensioners.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

FSM management

In my opinion, if the option to create and apply an FSM for the Nortel Canada pension fund becomes a reality, there need to be some up-front rules and decisions made and ratified by the pensioner and future pensioner population.

The following options should be made available to each pensioner depending on their place of residency and eligibility.

1. Option to use the standard annuity Ontario process.
2. Option to use the Quebec proposal.
3. Option to join the FSM approach.

The NRPC must be completely separate from the administration of the FSM, and the choice of FSM manager should be ratified by a proper vote of those selecting that option. Once a decision is made, the contact with pensioners and future pensioners who select the FSM option regarding their personal situation should be directly from the FSM manager.

Prior to choosing an FSM:

-The pensioner and future pensioner population should be made aware of the element of risk involved with the FSM, and provided clear examples of what to expect in terms of the options they are eligible for.

-It should be made clear if it is to be an either/or decision between choosing the FSM option or choosing an annuity. If it is not possible to convert to an annuity at a later date that must be declared up front. If it is possible to convert at a later date, the mechanism for calculating residual commuted value should be also made clear.

Investment goals should be set for the FSM to ensure the survival of the fund to meet it's actuarially determined obligations and performance against those goals measured routinely.

The FSM performance should be monitored by the NRPC or another body and reported on monthly to all participants. Audits should also be carried out by third parties and reported on annually.

I'm sure there are lots more that needs to be worked out, however I want to emphasize the importance of transparency in this decision and the absolute need to involve all possible pension members to ensure that there are no major legal and financial problems following a decision. We don't want to reduce the pension trust fund any further with unnecessary actions, or poor investment policy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

FSM for Canadian pensions a real possibility?

The following story was posted in the Ottawa Citizen today. I couldn't see any report of it on the NRPC site. If this is true it looks like the FSM may become a reality for Nortel's pension fund which means that the standard wind up using annuities will not be followed.

I'm not sure what the next moves will be. Morneau Sobeco and the FSCO will surely be involved as well as the Regie de Quebec since this approach may prove bettet than what is offered by law 129.

It will take some time to sort it out.

Ontario gives Nortel pensioners more control over their pensions
By Lee Greenberg, Ottawa December 17, 2010 7:35 PM TORONTO -

Roughly 18,000 Nortel pensioners will now be allowed to invest their pensions with private fund managers, after the Ontario government announced Friday that it will reverse an earlier decision forcing them into a safer - but less profitable - regime.

In a letter Friday afternoon, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told leaders of the pensioners' group they "have made strong arguments for allowing greater pension choice."

Duncan said the Liberal government will table legislation allowing that choice while "safeguarding benefit security."

"The ability to opt out of the current wind-up approach would allow pensioners who have a greater risk tolerance to elect to pursue investment strategies that may ultimately lead to higher benefits," Duncan wrote in the letter to Don Sproule, national chair of the Nortel Retirees and Former Employees Protection Canada (NRPC). "But it would also ensure that no pensioners have their benefits put at increased risk without making a clear choice."

Pensioners complained they faced an immediate 10-per-cent loss if the government-led wind-up of their $2.5-billion plan went ahead as planned.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more:

Poll on distribution of Canadian HWT fund

The Nortel Canada HWT fund covers a wide range of items including paying for the disabled benefits as well as insurance, medical,dental, etc for pensioners.

There has been quite a debate as to how the remaining funds should be distributed. The courts are saying that it should be allocated based on the percentages promised to both disabled and pensioners.

The disabled people have requested that all the fund should be applied to their benefits since the account is vastly under-funded and they need some income in order to survive. Most of the disabled people are not of pensionable age so these payments are the only ones they receive other than any government support which as you know is minimal.

If the entire HWT fund was split between the disabled people they would get about the same percentage of their current payments that pensioners are going to get when the pension trust fund is properly analysed by Morneau Sobeco.

Handing the contents of the HWT fund over to the disabled would not impact in any way the pension trust fund for retirees.

A poll has been established on the Yahoo Groups site for Nortel pensioners. You can go on there if you are a member and vote whether to award the HWT funds to the disabled or not. This is just a poll and has no immediate legal consequence.

Here is the message on Yahoo Groups:

I support that the disabled and survivors get the whole of the Health and
Welfare Trust. By agreeing to this I understand that I may be giving up a single
$3500 lump sum payment from the proceeds of the Health and Welfare Trust that
currently goes to pensioners. I also understand that this will allow the
disabled to get about the same percentage from the Nortel estate as the
pensioners. I understand that the Health and Welfare Trust proceeds in no way
impacts my pension coming from Morneau-Sobeco.
> o I agree that the disabled and the survivors should get the whole of the
Health and Welfare Trust
> o I do not agree that the disabled and survivors should get the whole of the
Health and Welfare Trust.
> o I have no opinion either way.
> To vote, please visit the following web page:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Canadian MPs not supporting Bill C-501

The bill C-501 that will give Canadian pensioners better priority in terms of bankrupt estates is in discussion in the Industry committee. It looks like the conservatives are opposing it and the possibility of retroactivity is probably off the table, so Nortel retirees won't be helped by it.

However it still is a good thing for Canadian retirees and the law should be passed. That will bring Canada closer to the standard in place in the USA, the UK, Germany and many other countries.

To help spur on the negative MPs on the committee I sent the following email to them to remind them of the government's role in this Nortel debacle.

The recipients listed are the ones opposing on the committee so feel free to write to them and give them your opinion.


Sent: 12/15/2010 8:22:49 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Canada's lack of support to Nortel disabled and pensioners

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a retiree from Nortel Canada who is extremely dissatisfied with the treatment that the Nortel disabled people and the Nortel pensioners have received from the Canadian government.

You can check out the video I placed on Youtube at to express my views.

Canada's government had an opportunity to step in when Nortel was in trouble and help protect a national asset. Instead you chose to provide money to G. M. but turned your back on your own home grown internationally recognized mega-corporation.

As a result Nortel went under. Major assets that have brought Canada revenue and recognition for over 120 years, are now in the possession of foreign companies who have benefited from those many years of Nortel innovation and Canadian support.

Thousands of Canadians are now unemployed, or working for foreign corporations and using their skills to enhance foreign business.

However, all of that is water under the bridge, but there still remains the tragedies of the Nortel disabled and the Nortel pensioners that you have created by letting this happen.

Nortel disabled will lose all their support Jan 1, 2011 and face an unknown future where many will be impoverished and their lives placed in jeopardy. Nortel pensioners also face the future with trepidation as they wait for the cut in their pension income that may exceed 40%.

How can this have happened in Canada?

The Canadian laws regarding pensioners facing company bankruptcy are non-existent. Unlike enlightened countries who provide pension protection, Canada still blunders on letting their retirees take the full brunt of company bankruptcies.

The Canadian laws for disabled trust funds are also virtually non-existent. How is it possible that Nortel could fool the disabled people into thinking that they were insured until they reached pensionable age only to find out that there is nothing in their fund?

Shame on Canada for being so apathetic to these weak and vulnerable people. Examine your conscience and take action to support these people. You can start by approving Bill C-501 and making sure it applies to Nortel pensioners.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nortel Estate Mediation talks

I was pleasantly surprised to have a phone call from Koskie Minsky today.

I had emailed them last month to enquire about the mediation talks and to make sure that Canadian pensioners and ex-employees were well represented at the talks. My concern was that the discussions would be dominated by large claims such as the UK pension claim and that the Canadian and US claimants would be negatively impacted.

The Koskie Minsky representative assured me that they, as our lawyers in Canada, were participating at the talks on our behalf along with other representatives from Canada.

Unfortunately there have been no decisions made and the talks have not yet yielded any result.

The Koskie Minsky representative told me that the NRPC are up to date on all discussions underway and that they will be providing updates when there is something to talk about.

The longer it takes to reach a decision, the more the lawyers can charge against the Nortel Administration fund, and that means a reduction in the total estate which will be distributed to claimants. So let's hope it doesn't take too long.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quebec Law 129 application to ex- Quebecers

Quebec law 129 provides some help to Nortel pensioners who retire in Quebec. Many people have worked in Quebec and then moved to another province or country and are asking "does law 129 apply to me".

If you last worked for Nortel Canada in Quebec and transferred to another country, like the USA, then law 129 probably applies to you since you are considered to have retired from Quebec.

If you worked in Quebec and then transferred to another Canadian province and retired from that other province or moved to another country from that province, then law 129 probably does not apply to you.

None of this is totally clear and Morneau Sobeco have their work cut out to determine where everyone worked during their Nortel careers, and which pension funds need to be transferred to the Regie de Quebec under law 129.

Morneau Sobeco will also be determining those of us who are eligible for the FSCO top up in Ontario, and in this case it will depend on how many years you worked in Ontario, and what that contribution to your over Nortel Canadian pension is.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Youtube video urging action in Canada

There hasn't been any good news from the Canadian government to help the Nortel disabled people who will lose their benefits Jan 1 2011. In spite of all the demonstrations, meeting, letters, court cases, and newspaper articles, the Nortel disabled face disaster in less than 3 weeks.

The pensioners wait their turn as the new year arrives and they find out how badly their trust fund is under water.

Where's all the Canadian sympathy? Where's all the usual heartwarming assistance that we expect when we think of Canadians? Does no one care what is going to happen, especially to these disabled people who have no where else to turn?

I just got so mad at this that I made a short video and uploaded it to Youtube to express my feelings and to heap shame and embarrassment on Canada and especially the Canadian government.

Please pass it on, and send it to all those MPs and Senators who are sitting around examining their navels instead of helping these people who are in desperate straits.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

UK court ruling gives Pension Trust Fund first priority in Bankruptcy

A ruling by the high court in the UK has granted top priority to pension Trust Funds of bankrupt companies. The ruling allows Trust Funds to stake their claim as administrative and thereby ensure payment into the trust fund from the bankrupt estate in front of other creditors.

In the UK there is a pension Protection Fund which is similar to the PBGC in the US in that it takes over and pays pensions to the retirees if the company enters bankruptcy. So it looks like the PPF will be able to claim first priority from now on if this ruling sticks.

Canada has no such protection, nor is there any priority for pension trust funds. We Nortel retirees are seen as unsecured creditors and the $1B deficit in our Canadian pension plan will be treated after all the fat cat secured creditors get their
payment out of the estate. Bill C-501 was intended to raise our priority, but it is bogging down in committee and the government MPs are claiming that there is no way they will make it retroactive if it passes.

Here's the write up in the Telegraph on the UK ruling

By Philip Aldrick and Helia Ebrahimi 8:10AM GMT 11 Dec 2010 97

In a fundamental shake-up of the corporate debt structure, pension trustees will be able to demand a lump-sum payment from administrators of a failed business ahead of all lenders bar those backed by property assets. Even the administrators will be lower in the pecking order.

Before the ruling, pension claims ranked beneath the riskiest unsecured loans, potentially robbing workers of their retirement income.

In a packed courtroom at the High Court on Friday, Mr Justice Briggs ruled in favour of The Pensions Regulator in its bid to recover funds from Lehman Brothers and Canadian telecoms firm Nortel for the 43,000 members of the insolvent companies' pension schemes.

The administrators of Nortel and Lehman, which went bust with UK pension deficits of £2.1bn and £148m respectively, were contesting the regulator's decision to issue a "Financial Support Direction" (FSD) requiring them to strike an agreement with the pension trustees before disbursing funds to creditors.

Under the current rules, if no agreement is struck the regulator imposes a "Contribution Notice" (CN) demanding the administrator make a payment to the trustees. In a ground-breaking judgment, Mr Justice Briggs ruled that the CN would qualify as an "administration expense" – meaning it must be paid above all but "fixed asset" creditors, even before the administrators take their fees.

"It's a shock ruling, everybody I have spoken to has got their mouths wide open," said Nick Moser at law firm Taylor Wessing. "Administrators will be discouraged from implementing rescues because super-priority for pension schemes could wipe out any return for any other creditor."

Allen & Overy restructuring partner Jen Marshall added: "This will have huge implications for the restructuring industry. It is potentially catastrophic, the decision is totally untenable. For banks and companies, it is an impediment to the rescue culture."

Jonathan Land, business recovery partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, who advised Nortel's pension fund trustees throughout the two-year case, warned that companies with large pensions deficits, such as British Airways, may find it harder to raise funds as a result.

"This is great for pensioners but will have huge implications for the banks," he said. "Banks will have to wake up to the importance of the pension creditor. They will have a lot more risk to contend with. They should be wary of companies with huge pension liabilities."

Mr Justice Briggs said he regretted having to make the ruling, which he blamed on "a legislative mess". "Parliament might wish to consider a suitable amendment," he added.

"The conferring of super-priority as expenses on the financial liabilities arising from the FSD regime is both potentially unfair to the target's creditors and inconsistent with a decision taken in 2004 not to elevate employees' pensions claims above the claims of those creditors."

The regulator, whose role is to protect both pension scheme members and the lifeboat – the Pension Protection Fund – welcomed the ruling.

The administrators are expected to appeal.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quebec Law 129 -Supplementary Pension Act

Quebec has passed a new law 129 that modifies Quebec Law 1 Supplementary Pension Act so that Nortel Quebec retirees can take advantage of the law. In addition the time period that Quebec is willing to administer the pension has been increased from 5 to 10 years.

This only applies to pensioners who retired from a Quebec location. Quebec Law 1 offers 3 different options. (1) An annuity. (2)Transfer to a Life Income Fund, (3) Pension fund managed by Quebec for up to 10 years ad then purchase of an annuity. The amount paid in option (3) would be no less than what would be obtained in option (1) but could provide for future gains if the annuity market improves.

Canadian Manulife, Sunlife,LTD Update

The following information was posted on the Koskie Minsky website yesterday and today. Please check the Koskie Minsky site (Right hand column) for links to other information

December 10, 2010 All Manulife packages were mailed on or before December 1, 2010. If you have not received a package yet, please contact Manulife directly at 1-800-370-7057 to request that they send you a package. This number is now active and was established specifically for former Nortel employees who wish to contact Manulife to get additional information or to apply for coverage. The number can be used to call Manulife from anywhere in Canada and the continental US.

December 9, 2010

1. Upcoming Changes to Existing Sun Life Health, Dental and Life Insurance Coverage:
Many Nortel retirees, former employees and disabled employees currently receive health, dental and life insurance coverage through Sun Life. It is important to note that your current coverage with Sun Life ends effective December 31, 2010. All claims under the current coverage must be incurred by December 31, 2010 and must be submitted to Sun Life prior to February 28, 2011. Please be sure to submit all claims to Sun Life by the February 28, 2011 deadline, as no claims will be accepted for processing after that date.

2. December 2 Mailing – Alternative Manulife Health, Dental and Life Insurance Coverage:
The NRPC, in conjunction with the CAW and Nortel’s disabled employees, has worked with advisors to establish alternative health, dental and life insurance coverage that will be available after your current coverage ends. It is voluntary and you must pay for it. After an analysis of the various options and costs, the NRPC has endorsed the coverage that Manulife Financial has offered to make available to all former Nortel employees without evidence of insurability as of January 1, 2011. Packages outlining the details of the Manulife Financial coverage and enrolment information were mailed to all retirees, former employees and disabled employees of Nortel during the week of December 2. To discuss any questions you may have about the Manulife coverage, please contact Manulife directly after December 13 on the toll-free line that has been established for Nortel former employees. Please note that the toll-free hotline, 1.800.370.7057, is not operational until December 13, 2010.

The Manulife coverage is an optional program and if you choose to participate, you will be required to cover the premiums and other associated costs. If you decide to purchase coverage from Manulife, all of your transactions will be directly with Manulife. To determine whether the Manulife coverage is the best option for you, you may wish to discuss your needs and preferences with family members or other individuals that you trust. You may also wish to investigate other options such as provincial drug programs for which you may be eligible. The NRPC has prepared a newsletter outlining some of the provincial drug programs that may be applicable to you. To view a copy of that document, go to the NRPC Website.

3. LTD Updates:

In accordance with the Settlement Agreement, Nortel’s disabled employees will be terminated from employment with Nortel, effective December 31, 2010. There will be a number of important upcoming changes. These changes are outlined in a Termination Package that was recently mailed to Nortel’s disabled employees.

In addition to outlining the upcoming changes to your health, dental and life insurance coverage, the Termination Package also outlines issues pertaining to Nortel’s defined contribution and defined benefit pension plans. Please be sure to review your Termination Package. You may contact the Monitor or your Representative Counsel with questions or concerns.

If you are a member of one of Nortel’s pension plans and have questions that are specific to your pension, please contact Morneau Sobeau:

Managerial Plan - 1-877-392-2074

Non-Negotiated Plan – 1-877-392-2073

Email –

Disabled employees who are members of Nortel’s pension plans under the defined benefit (“DB”) provisions received a letter from Nortel in mid-September, which outlined changes to your pension contributions. The letter informed eligible individuals about a one-time “top-up” deposit that will be made to compensate you for the value of the DB benefit that you would have accrued under the DB plan during the October 1 – December 31 period but couldn’t because the Plan will be wound up effective September 30, 2010. We expect the one-time “top-up” deposit to take place in late December 2010. For eligible Canadian residents, the deposit will be made directly into your existing investment account with Sun Life. For eligible individuals who reside outside of Canada, the one-time deposit will be made into your after-tax savings vehicle (ATSV) account.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Canadian parliament comments on pensioners and LTD

The following is taken from the Hansard record of the debate in the Canadian House of Commons. It is clear that the conservative government are not willing to budge on providing relief to Nortel pensioners or LTD personnel. Twice a reference is made to the effect that retroactivity on these bill is not possible. This is your government at work...

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the unelected, unaccountable, Conservative-dominated Senate killed the long-term disability pensions, and again the government laughs, of more than 400 Nortel employees. These people are suffering from Parkinson's Disease and similar disabilities. Without their pensions, they will be destitute just 28 days from today.
At a time when Conservatives have a lot of money for jets and jails, corporate tax giveaways and bloated ministerial offices, why can the government not help 408 innocent, hard-working but now disabled Canadians?

Hon. John Baird (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of the Environment, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, if the Liberal Party would like to reform the Senate, I would encourage it to get behind this government's agenda.
We have legislation before Parliament with respect to elections of senators and with respect to the term limits going from 45 years to 8 years. We think that is incredibly important.
However, the issue involving Nortel pensioners and LTD recipients is obviously a very serious one. Regrettably, the reality is we cannot legally and constitutionally make laws that apply retroactively. I think the member opposite knows that.

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the minister is plainly wrong.
Since coming to office, the Conservatives have wasted a billion dollars in extra spending on partisan advertising, outside consultants and other excesses. The Prime Minister's personal political expenses are up by more than 30% in just the last two years. The political spending of the Minister of Justice is up by nearly 20%. The Minister of Transport, is up 100%. The chief government whip is up 235%. Yet disgraceful Conservative senators are hacking the pensions of the long-term disabled.

How can the Conservatives look themselves in the mirror?

Hon. John Baird (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of the Environment, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. If we want to look at the basket of political expenses by this government, let us look at the expenses in the offices of the ministers. The use of government aircraft, particularly the use of Challenger aircraft, travel and other associated expenses, hospitality and polling expenses are dramatically reduced under this government. The member opposite, I suspect, knows that.
We are following the issue incredibly closely with respect to the situation involving Nortel LTD recipients. The reality is we cannot make laws retroactive. If the member opposite believed in this, he had 13 years to change the Bankruptcy Act and failed to do so.

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, it is not just the disabled at Nortel. Two-thirds of Canadians do not have decent retirement savings at all. Under the current government, poverty for senior citizens has jumped 25%. Family household debt has skyrocketed. It is 50% higher than disposable incomes. The well-being of children is dropping.
Why does the government lavish $6 million in personal benefits on one Conservative senator, Senator Brazeau and his used Porsche, when it has nothing for pensions, family caregivers or better access to education?

Hon. John Baird (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of the Environment, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party has made great noises about wanting to raise the decorum in the House and talk about issues that are relevant to Canadians.
For the member for Wascana, talking about what kind of automobile a parliamentarian drives is not really—

Mr. Pablo Rodriguez (Honoré-Mercier, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, what the Conservatives are doing is disgusting. They are shamelessly wasting our money. Meanwhile, the poverty rate among seniors has increased by 25%. Has that become a priority for them? No, not at all. Worse still, they are changing the rules to make it even harder to access the guaranteed income supplement. This will force even more seniors into poverty.
I know they are very busy gallivanting around in taxis, eating canapés, building prisons and buying airplanes, but when they have finished all of that, will they finally find some time to look after our seniors?

Mr. Ed Komarnicki (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, we are certainly concerned with seniors and we have therefore taken a number of actions to be sure they have extra income in their pockets.
We have taken action specifically with respect to the guaranteed income supplement to be sure that they are entitled to receive that. We have increased the guaranteed income supplement twice.
We would ask the member and the Liberal Party to get behind us when we are taking initiatives that are helping our seniors in this difficult time.

Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are worried about the high cost of living and their retirement income. In northern Ontario the price of gas went up 10¢ last night. Home heating costs are skyrocketing, thanks to the government's HST scheme.
A poll of Canadian CEOs on my pension protection bill, Bill C-501, found that a majority believe the bill is fair and that Parliament should pass the bill.
Will the government respect the wishes of Canadian CEOs and pensioners and support Bill C-501 and protect six million Canadians?

Mr. Ted Menzies (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, we are protecting 34 million Canadians by reducing their taxes. That is what Canadians have asked us to do and we have delivered on that through our economic action plan.
We have created over 441,000 net new jobs since July 2009. That is what Canadians wanted. They wanted assurances that their government was listening to what they wanted. They wanted to ensure they had jobs so they could help support their families. That is what is important.

* * *

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Canadian bill C-501 and Manley Lobbying against it.

The NRPC site for members only has published details on the statements by John Manley regarding what he calls myths put out by pensioners about Canada's protection for retirees if affected by bankruptcy, and the impact on Canada of providing priority to pensioners to ensure that the trust fund is made solvent before other creditors are paid.

If you are an NRPC member, you can access it in the members only section of the NRPC web site. (Link in the right hand column)

Manley identifies five myths,(as he calls them). The NRPC has provided specific and detailed rebuttals to each of the myths. If you plan to write letters on this to your MP, consult the NRPC site for details.

Essentially Manley is siding with the bond holders and big business interests to block bill C-501, and his opinion is certainly biased.

In the first area Manley claims that very few industrialized nations provide this kind of super priority. We all know that Canada is way behind the US, the UK, Germany, and other civilized nations where pensioners are treated with respect and honor, as opposed to Canada where we as Nortel pensioners and disabled people have been cast aside and our plight ignored.

Manley also claims that Canada has already taken steps to protect defined benefit plans and that Canada leads in this area. As a typical politician, his references do not directly address the issues of trust fund insolvency and his remarks only apply to a very small percentage of Canadian retirees.

Manley raises the old big business fear monger, that a bill such as C-501 would drive more companies into bankruptcy. What he fails to think about is a new culture that bill C-501 would create whereby all stakeholders would take part in ensuring pension trust funds are correctly funded, audited regularly at shorter intervals,with properly calculated contributions made, rather than the sloppy approach currently in place.

Building on the previous idea, Manley also has claimed that Bill C-501 would negatively impact bondholders and make credit harder to obtain for a company. Detailed financial analyses carried out by a consultant to the NRPC and reported on at previous webinars, and to the government, has clearly identified that the impact would be negligible. In the US for example, the PBGC has had priority status over other investors for many years, and that hasn't had a major effect.

The final area that Manley attacks is the continuance of defined benefit plans. He claims that Bill C-501 would raise the cost of defined benefit plans. I find that hard to believe. If a company is funding the plan properly there shouldn't be any negative impact.

The issue is the Canadian law which allows companies to under contribute and let the plan fall behind for too long a period. In Nortel's case for example, the last real plan evaluation was in 2006 and at that time it was underfunded. The extra payments required by law to make up that deficit were far too low as the economy tanked and the fund lost money, and there was no emergency review and reassessment until after Nortel had declared CCAA and chapter 11. The law is at fault. The government created this situation with their poor oversight legislation. Now when it comes to correcting that for the unfortunates who will suffer because of these incompetents, they, and people like Manley, won't step up and do the right thing.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Canadian Pension Indexing dis-continued

I received a letter from Morneau Sobeco today that indicated starting January 1st 2011 indexing for cost of living on retirees birthdays will be discontinued. This action is intended to reduce payments out of the pension fund that could make the deficit even larger.

There is no information yet of the official calculated percentage of the fund solvency ratio.

Morneau Sobeco indicated in the letter that if indexing was part of your pension agreement that would be taken into account when they are making the decisions on pension reductions. What that will mean to the pension going forward is not clear.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Canadian Bill C-501, Industry Committee Meeting

The minutes of the Canadian Parliamentary Committee on Industry for Dec 2nd are centered on their discussion of Bill C-501 which is intended to provide super-priority for unfunded pension amounts in bankruptcy situations.

Based on what I read, this bill will not provide Nortel pensioners with any help to bridge the pension funding shortfall since there is no retroactivity clause and that is clearly understood by the committee members.

You can read the minutes at the following extremely long link"

The committee spent most on their time debating amendments to the 7 clauses of the bill which were intended to make the intent of the bill clear. The amendments would mean that the bill gave super-priority to all unfunded amounts that would be required to bring pension funds up to a solvency level to provide full pension rights to retirees.

The committe decided that they needed to have further input from the witnesses who had attended previous sessons to obtain their input on the amendments. The motion approved by the committee was described by Mr. Robert Bouchard:

We are talking about two meetings to hear witnesses and a third for clause-by-clause consideration. I am pretty sure that not all of the witnesses we heard from previously will return. I think we could probably combine the ones that we've already heard from with some new ones, as proposed by my colleague. In any case, we can limit ourselves to two meetings to hear witnesses and a third for clause-by-clause. I think it would be appropriate to set a limit. That way we would be required to have results by the time the third session came around—in other words, for clause-by-clause. I believe there is a consensus on that. Conservative members seem to agree. I think I also heard Mr. Rafferty say that he is open to that idea. That is also our position.

The committee also decided to ask for a 30 day extension.

As part of the discussion it was made very clear that this bill would not provide any relief to Nortel Pensioners since there is no retroactivity in it. The committee members referenced the efforts made by Nortel Pensioners to have the bill enacted and lauded their self sacrificng attitude to help future pensioners in a similar situation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Canadian Bill C-501 last week end before vote.

As published on the NRPC web site, by one of the NRPC leaders.

Friday, 03 December 2010

Thursday, 2 Dec, was the last day of C-501 hearings before the INDU committee gets back together for clause by clause discussion and voting on Dec. 7.

This is the tale of two pressures. One from corporations including bank executives lead by John Manley and supported by the government; and the other pressure mainly coming from former Nortel employees with support from unions and pensioner organizations.

Many spoke on all sides that former Nortel employees were caught in a worst possible economic condition i.e., the perfect storm which is not likely to repeat for a long long time. Many in expensive suits said "It is unfortunate" (to their shame), as opposed to something should be done to relieve their condition. Bruce Robertson, Chief Restructuring Officer of AbitibiBowater Inc. said that lenders when they lend, protect themselves from the worse condition the company may be subjected to. So it is OK for lenders to protect themselves from the worse market condition but it is not OK for pensioners to protect themselves from the market's worst condition. This is where the imbalance lies. It is too bad that fairness, that all too human quality evaporates with greed. Our only hope, as I see it, is a special arrangement of accommodation.

My reading is, and I emphasize my reading, that the conservatives will use the same tactic they used to kill the S-216 in the Senate by bringing a motion to drop it and not go clause by clause on Dec. 7. But here they need the support of the Liberals to succeed. That is why in my opinion Mike Lake (conservative) said further amendments would be accepted up till and including Monday Dec. 8. Will the Liberals try to work something out with the conservatives or the NDP? That is the big question.

This is why we should continue sending emails to committee members emphasizing the unique circumstances Nortel retirees have been subjected to during this unprecedented global market collapse. Why should we be sacrificed at the altar of the Canadian Market to restore the Canadian economy? You have Friday, the weekend and Monday only to impress them. That is it for now, and we will wait the outcome at the very important Dec. 7 C-501 meeting. Based on that outcome we shall move to our next phase. See some emails by other warriors below.

Pressure must still be put on BCE and RB - both companies made representations at the hearings to let the former employees suffer. I suppose their lobbyists (Former Liberal minster Don Boudria hired by BCE and often quoted by the conservatives former Liberal minster of everything, John Manley) have to give the OK for any plan of special arrangement of accommodation for former affected employees of Nortel. Note that BCE has not replied, is it arrogance or smart politics?

Wait till you see “ The Royal Bank and Bell Canada supported by the Conservative Government broke my life!”

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Canadian contact list from NRPC-Montreal

The following contact list was issued by the Montreal Chapter of the NRPC.

Thursday, 02 December 2010
Important contact information for Nortel Pensioners to obtain accurate replies to their questions

NRPC /SRNC Quebec Region Contact List

Agencies / Companies


CDN Association of Retired People 1-800-363-9736


Barry Wadsworth 416-495-3776

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Ernst & Young 1-866-942-7177

FADOQ Federation Age D'Or du Quebec

KM Law 1-866-777-6344

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sun-Life Insurance 1-800-361-2128

Long Term Disabled
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


Negotiated Pension 1-877-392-2073

Non-Negotiated Pension 1-877-392-2074

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

NRPC COP Ile Bizard
PO Box 89017
Ile Bizard , H9C 2Z3

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

NT Pension services
Disconnected Oc1 1st 2010

NT Human Resources 1-800-676-4636

RAMQ Montreal 514-864-3411

Quebec 418-646-4636

Others 1-800-561-9749

HDD 1-800-361-3939

Montreal 514-873-2433

Other 1-800-561-9749

Prepared & issued by your NRPC Quebec region Committee 1.12.2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Canadian Bill S-216 Voted Down

As noted on the NRPC Website

Friday, 26 November 2010

Senator Eggleton's Bill S-216, which would have given preferred status retroactively to the claims of people on long-term disability in the bankruptcy process, was voted down in a Senate committee yesterday, Nov 26th. Senator Ringuette's Bill S-214, which would give the same treatment to pensioners, likely faces the same fate in the next few days.

Federal Minister John Baird is quoted in the press as being against Bill S-216 because the retroactivity clause would have been "unconstitutional". NRPC believes he is wrong on that front since the government has already made similar changes to the Wage Earner Protection Program in 2009 and for Canadian banks with Asset Backed Commercial Paper problems in 2007.

The NRPC believes that all former employee claims deserve preferred status in bankruptcy court - both LTD and pensioners. We will continue to fight for justice in bankruptcy including legislative changes which would protect all existing and former employees of Nortel.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Disabled bill may fail due to rejection by Conservative Canadian senators

The Canadian PM Harper has stacked the Senate with conservatives who seem only interested in protecting their well heeled cronies. How can they turn down helping 400 disabled people who will lose their benefits next month due to the negligence of Nortel and the indifference of the Canadian government to those who need the most support? Canada is retrogressing into the dark ages under this leadership.

The following story was published yesterday.

Tory senators poised to kill bill for disabled Nortel pensioners
Published On Thu Nov 25 2010
The Canadian Press

OTTAWA—The Conservative-controlled Senate is poised to kill a bill that would have protected former Nortel employees from losing their long-term disability benefits.

Conservative senators have used their majority on the Senate’s banking, trade and commerce committee to recommend that the upper house not proceed with the bill.

The chamber, dominated by Tories thanks to a raft of recent appointments by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is likely to accept the committee’s report.

The bill, proposed by Liberal Senator Art Eggleton, sought to ensure that 400 disabled Nortel employees would be given preferred status among creditors when the once-mighty telecommunications technology giant is finally dissolved.

Most of the company has been sold off since Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009.

Without Eggleton’s bill, long-term disability benefits will cease at the end of this year.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Comments in Ottawa Sun re treatment of Canadian Nortel pensioners

Comments by Anne Clark-Stewart on an article in the Ottawa Sun regarding the Nortel Canadian Pensioners and the government apathy to our situation.

Well said Anne!

Response to Ottawa Sun Article, Nov 23rd
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Re: Nov 23/10 Pension deal: caviar for them, crusts for you:

Crusts you say. Nortel pensioners will be lucky to get crumbs from the bankruptcy proceeds of this interminable and most complex bankruptcy in Canadian history. The term “upper crust” was derived from the gentry being given the clean top crusts of bread and the servants being given the base of the loaf that was often overcooked, black and dirty from the ovens.

Large numbers of Nortel retirees, terminated and disabled employees have been working for nearly two years now making presentations to politicians of all parties and all levels of government and NOTHING has been done to address our dire situations. The stress of this uncertainty is creating havoc with our stress levels and our health.

We will be very lucky to get 60% of our pensions (please read deferred wages). Our taxes on these reduced pensions will help pay for the public service pension deficit. The disabled employees’ wage replacement benefit terminates at year-end, even though they paid premiums for what they thought was insurance, and have no support in sight for years as the Nortel assets are still not all sold. Where will the disabled end up? On welfare? On the streets? A burden to society and the Canadian taxpayer? Certainly not eating caviar.

We will all see our health and dental benefits and life insurance eliminated at the end of the year. How can we replace them when our pensions and/or LTD benefits are being cut so drastically?

How will the over 1200 widows with an average pension of $900 per month be able to pay rent or put food on the table? Most never worked outside the home as they raised their families while their spouses devoted many unpaid overtime hours to the development of some of the greatest technological advances in the history of telecommunications. And these are the crumbs they get.

Having spent the past two weeks in Industry Committee hearings on Bill C-501, MP John Rafferty’s private member’s bill to protect pension funds in bankruptcy, I am absolutely appalled at the arrogance of the banks, bondholders and insolvency firms who expound on what “may”, “could” or “possibly” happen to the economy if pension special payments or under-funding were protected under this new Bill. NO facts, NO studies, just suppositions. But then, they are the ‘suits’, the new “Upper Crust”, the caviar eaters. Marie Antoinette’s philosophy is alive and well in the halls of Corporate Canada and the Hill.

Anne Clark-Stewart

A Nortel pensioner

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NRPC Newsletter Nov 2010

The NRPC has published a November newsletter on their website. You have to be a member to view it. I have copied the NRPC president's summary for your information. To see the rest of the newsletter log in to the NRPC website.

NRPC Newsletter – Oct./Nov. 2010
President’s Letter

While not necessarily visible to the members, the NRPC and its advisors have been very active during this past month, keeping true to our goal of maximizing the benefits payable to Nortel retirees and former employees from this insolvency.

Under the terms of the March 2010 Settlement Agreement eligible terminated employees were to receive payments up to $3000. With the expiration of the appeal period these payments have started to flow. The NRPC and our advisors were successful in obtaining tax-sheltered status for those people who had service prior to 1996 and were thus eligible for a retiring allowance as part of their severance payments. Preferential tax treatment for all future benefit payments is on our list for discussion with the Canada Revenue Agency.

I am happy to say that we have negotiated a replacement health plan that we can endorse to the NRPC constituency. Thank-you to NRPC board member François Meunier, the NRPC health committee and John Halls of The Segal Company who helped us navigate the insurance industry ins and outs. Further details follow in this newsletter.

We continue to pursue the Financial Sponsorship Model to allow more options for pensioners rather than a wholesale conversion to annuities by current regulations. Thanks to the action of a few pensioners on a wet September night, Premier McGuinty has agreed to take a second look at the model. The financial community has proposed some very interesting opportunities. That review is now underway. More details follow in this newsletter.

Bankruptcy Act - Bill C-501 has been written to give priority to the pension deficit in a bankruptcy. We have been urging all parties to work together to perfect the wording of this important bill to ensure it is passed into legislation. We have been invited to testify in the committee hearings. Bill S-214 sponsored by Senator Pierrette Ringuette (Liberal) also aims to protect pensioners when their company declares bankruptcy; it is also in committee and will be going into hearings at the end of November or early December. We hope to have an NRPC witness at the Senate Banking hearing on this Bill.

With the October 1st transfer of the registered pension plans to the wind-up administrator, Morneau Sobeco, we moved immediately to establish a constructive working relationship with the administrator. Our first meeting was on October 4th and we have now had four meetings with the goal to better understand the conventional wind-up process and to ensure that the best interests of all pensioners are considered. More on this later in this newsletter.

We have been very busy on multiple fronts and will continue to work on your behalf. I hope that the newsletter is useful to your understanding of current events.

Don Sproule

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Canadian LTD statement from Koskie Minsky

The following was posted on the Koskie Minsky site today.
Read carefully and if you have questions call K.M. You can find their contact information on their website shown in the right hand column.

November 23, 2010

All individuals in receipt of long-term disability payments, survivor income benefits and survivor transition benefits have or will soon receive a statement in the mail which sets out their personal information for verification. This personal information was used to calculate the preliminary estimates in the Beneficiary Estimated Allocation Statement.

The Data Verification Statements for disabled employees contain a column entitled ‘net monthly LTD-income payment’. Please take note that the amount set out in that column is net of Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability payments, Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) payments and other income benefits you receive that offset your monthly LTD-income payment.

However, the amount referred to in that column is not net of tax or other statutory deductions that regularly reduce your monthly LTD-income payments. Please note that for this reason, the amount in the ‘net monthly LTD-income payment’ column will not be precisely the same as the dollar amount of the net monthly payment you actually receive.

You may contact your Representative Counsel or the Monitor with questions or concerns.


Morneau Sobeco

On Saturday I received a letter from Morneau Sobeco basically telling me that I was in their data base, that they are now administering the Nortel Canada pension trust fund, and that they would be in contact with me when there were changes to be made and also to verify my pension etc.

There was no specific information regarding time frame or possible impact but they did say that before a reduction in pension was carried out I would receive advance notification.

On Monday I received my normal pension pay stub from Northern Trust.

I think that it will take a while before Morneau Sobeco can determine the true pension trust fund ratio. Things may continue as they are now until the first quarter 2011.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nortel US Medical Plan

I received paperwork from Nortel today for re-enrollment in the Nortel US Retiree medical plan. It looks like they are offering the same deal but the premiums went up about 13%. That was less than I expected. There is a website to look at the plan details at Click on the "United States", then click on "Choose the right plans" and then on "2011 Retiree Annual Guide".

They also state as usual that they have the right to amend or terminate the plan so lets hope that the plan continues for 2011 and beyond.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nortel estate mediation representation

The mediation proceedings are underway to determine how the Nortel Global estate will be subdivided between concerned parties. I have not heard what Canadian representation there is to defend the rights of the Canadian pensioners and LTD, so I have sent the following email to Koskie Minksy (attorneys representing Canadian Pensioners and LTD) to see if I can get further details.

To Koskie Minsky.

I am a Nortel Pensioner living in the U.S.A. I have a claim against the Nortel US estate for unpaid non-qualified pension, and I also will have a claim against the Nortel Canadian estate for the shortfall on my Canadian pension in the trust fund.

The division of the Nortel estate between all countries involved has not been determined in an amicable fashion so far. As a result the decision is now being mediated in proceedings happening in New York State.

There are a number of parties at those proceedings representing various interests. I wish to know if Koskie Minsky is involved in those mediation discussions on behalf of the Nortel Canadian pensioners and LTD.

The US pension trust fund is represented through the PBGC which is part of the unsecured creditors committee and is involved in the discussions.

The UK pension trust fund is represented by the UK Trustee who obtained agreement from the court to participate in the discussions.

I have not seen anything listing the representatives from Canada, and since there is no Canadian federal agency concerned about the survival of pension trust funds after bankruptcy, (unlike the UK and USA), the government is not directly involved, or apparently interested.

As our attorneys, I would like to know what Koskie Minsky is doing to ensure that the Canadian Nortel Pension Trust Fund is properly defended against the demands of the people representing creditors from other countries on the total Nortel estate?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

US Medical

I just learned from a friend who spoke to Nortel shared services that they are in the process of mailing out medical enrollment packages. Let's hope that they do actually follow through with that.

There is no word on what the premium impact might be, though I expect it will be increased based of their desire to get rid of the medical plan at some time.
Also no word on how long the plan is expected to last. Let's hope it's at least for all of 2011.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pension Protection after Company Bankruptcy

The following eye opening chart and commentary was posted on the NRPC web site.

Why isn't Canada taking some steps to protect our pensions? We are not asking for anything that isn't already recognized in civilized countries...

Canadian ideas and initiative turned Nortel into a global leader in telecommunications. In opening the global marketplace, Nortel had to establish R&D and sales operations in many countries. Now we find, as Nortel plummets into bankruptcy, that our Nortel colleagues in other countries are well protected by their governments while former Nortel employees in Canada will suffer drastically. Many countries have pension guarantees when a company goes bankrupt that ensure that pensioners can get a fair share of their pension/deferred wages. Other countries ensure that underfunded pension plans get a priority status in bankruptcy claims to protect those pension plans.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ontario Superior court decision on HWT assets distribution

The following items were posted on the Koskie Minsky web site.

November 9, 2010 The Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision today granting the Monitor’s motion with respect to the proposed methodology for the allocation of the corpus of Nortel’s Health and Welfare Trust. To view a copy of the decision, please link to the Koskie Minsky site (Right hand column) and click on the announcement in the identified spot.

November 10, 2010 To view the most recent Disabled Employees Progress Report that will be mailed out within the next week, please go to the Koskie Minsky website and click on the identified spot.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nortel asset mediation

Since no one can agree on how to split the remaining assets of Nortel between countries it has been handed over to a mediator. Representatives at the mediation discussion will include the unsecured creditors committee, and the UK pension trustee. I presume the bondholders group and the Canadian monitor will also participate.

I have not seen anything listed where the rights of the Canadian pensioners will be spefically defended in these discussions. The UK pension trustee will focus on their claim that the global Nortel estate owes the UK pension fund close to $3B dollars. This claim has been rejected by both the US and Canadian bankruptcy courts and has withstood appeals in both countries.

This approach by the UK trustee is another attempt to grab a large chunk of the Nortel assets and thereby deny US and Canadian creditors (including pensioners) a chance to recoup their losses.

It is totally unreasonable to claim $3B for the UK. That sum is almost three time the combined deficit in the US and Canada pension funds. The UK deficit is almost entirely related to STC which was taken over by Nortel and which created the pension shortfall under UK pension law long before Nortel became involved. If the UK is successful in grabbing more than a fair share of the Nortel assets it is purely legal piracy in my opinion.

The Canadian pension administrator Morneau Sobeco should be acting on our behalf to obtain a seat at that mediation table and fighting to obtain as much as possible for Canadian creditors including the pension trust fund.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Canadian Supplemental Health Plan

I received the following from an NRPC representative today. It will be of interest to Canadian retirees or people planning to move back to Canada.

The NRPC has been able to negotiate a favourable supplemental health insurance plan for former employees of Nortel who are living in Canada. I pass this information on because there may be former employees living in other countries who are worried about what to do when they lose their retiree medical benefits in their country of residence. The plan requires that you be a Canadian resident and provides medical insurance that supplements the provincial insurance plans. Some people might consider re-patriation as a reasonable method of getting ongoing medical insurance.

We have been advised that this plan is available to all former employees of Nortel Canada if they reside in Canada. However, if you consider moving back to Canada, please confirm with Manulife that they will honour this plan in advance including not requiring evidence of insurability.

The note below refers strictly to medical insurance in Canada and has nothing to do with any retiree medical insurance that you might be receiving in the USA or other country. Although the existing retiree medical benefits for former employees in Canada will end on December 31, 2010, at this point I have no further information on when similar benefits may cease in other countries.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Koskie Minsky notice re LTD benefits Nov 8th 2010

The following was posted on the Koskie Minsky site yesterday

November 8, 2010

In late August 2010, all recipients of long term disability benefits (“LTD-income”), survivor income benefits (“SIB”) or survivor transition benefits (“STB”) received a Beneficiary Estimated Allocation Statement (“BEAS”) from the Monitor. The statement included a preliminary estimate of your LTD-Income, basic and/or optional life benefit, STB or SIB benefit values as of December 31, 2010 based on data as at June 30, 2010.

All individuals who received a BEAS can expect to receive another letter from the Monitor in November, which will ask you to confirm the personal information that was used to calculate the preliminary estimate of your LTD-Income, STB or SIB benefit. If the information contained on the form is correct, you are not required to take any action. If there are inaccuracies in the data contained on the form, then you must make the applicable corrections and return the form to the Monitor. You may direct any questions to the Monitor at 1.866.942.7177 or, or to your Representative counsel at 1.866.777.6344 or

Monday, November 8, 2010

Letter to Canadian Industry Committee

The following is a copy of the letter I sent to members of the Canadian Industry Committee who had abstained or voted "no" for passage of Bill C-501 in the House of Commons. Feel free to use parts or all of it in writing to the members.

I am writing to request that you and the other members of the Industry Committee support the passage of bill C-501 in the House of Commons.

I am a pensioner who spent 35 years working at Nortel, and during that time I always expected that I would be able to retire with reasonable certainty, and that I could live in dignity with the pension that Nortel promised me.

After the events of the last 21 months, my apprehension and unease with respect to my family's future have grown and have lain heavily on my mind. I now face huge cuts in my monthly pension due to Nortel's bankruptcy and Canada's poor laws to protect pensioners from such a fate.

Canada has always had a reputation of caring for her citizens and especially for seniors who devoted many years helping build the country and the companies they worked for. Please don't let us down now. We urgently need your help

I urge you and the members of your committee to pass Bill C-501, and to make it retroactive to the beginning of 2009 at least, so that Nortel's estate will come under the provisions of the new law giving priority to pension trust funds of bankrupt companies. This action will bring Canada into the same status as many other Westernized nations who have already taken similar steps to protect their pensioners. It will also send a clear message to corporations that their employees and retirees really matter, and that the government of Canada does truly care for the well being and protection of elderly citizens.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Canadian Bill C-501 review in Industry Committee this month.

Bill C-501 is coming up for review in the Industry Committee of the Canadian Parliament. This bill, if passed with retroactivity, could give Nortel Pensioners a preferred status in terms of the pension claim against the Nortel estate. To help spur the members of the committee into considering the plight of the Nortel Pensioners, the NRPC are requesting that everyone write to as many of the committee members as possible urging them to pass the bill and make it retroactive to January 2009 when Nortel filed for bankruptcy.

You can check out a sample letter on the NRPC website.

You can have a look at Bill C-501 at:

The meeting will be held as follows:

Meeting 44: November 16, 2010 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (EST) 131 Queen St., Ottawa, Room: 8-53
Meeting 45: November 18, 2010 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (EST) 131 Queen St., Ottawa, Room: 8-53
Meeting 46: November 23, 2010 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (EST) 131 Queen St., Ottawa, Room: 8-53
Meeting 47: November 25, 2010 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (EST) 131 Queen St., Ottawa, Room: 8-53

The members of the committee are:

David Sweet CPC Voted NO Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6, Telephone:(613) 996-4984, Fax:(613) 996-4986
EMail: Sweet.D@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:English

Robert Bouchard BQ Voted YES
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6, Telephone:(613) 992-7207, Fax:(613) 992-0431
EMail: Bouchard.R@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:French

Hon. Dan McTeague LPC Did Not Vote Pickering - Scarborough East
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6, Telephone: (613) 995-8082, Fax: (613) 993-6587
EMail: McTeague.D@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:English

Peter Braid CPC Voted NO Kitchener- Waterloo
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6, Telephone:(613) 996-5928, Fax:(613) 992-6251
EMail: Braid.P@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:English

Gordon Brown CPC Voted YES Stormont-Dundas
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontari, K1A 0A6, Telephone:(613) 992-8756, Fax:(613) 996-9171
EMail: Brown.G@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:English

Serge Cardin BQ Voted YES
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6, Telephone:(613) 943-7896 Fax:(613) 943-7902
EMail: Cardin.S@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:French

Marc Garneau LPC Did Not Vote Westmount - Ville Marie
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6, Telephone:(613) 996-7267 Fax:(613) 995-8632
EMail: Garneau.M@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:French / English

Mike Lake CPC Voted NO Edmonton - Mill Woods - Beaumont
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6, Telephone:(613) 995-8695 Fax:(613) 995-6465
EMail: Lake.M@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:English

Brian Masse NDP Voted YES
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6, Telephone:(613) 996-1541 Fax:(613) 992-5397
EMail: Masse.B@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:English

Anthony Rota LPC Voted YES
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6,Telephone:(613) 995-6255 Fax:(613) 996-7993
EMail: Rota.A@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:English

Dave Van Kesteren CPC Voted NO Chatham-Kent-Essex
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6, Telephone:(613) 992-2612 Fax:(613) 992-1852
EMail: VanKesteren.D@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:English

Mike Wallace CPC Voted NO Burlington
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6, Telephone:(613) 995-0881 Fax:(613) 995-1091
EMail: Wallace.M@parl.gc.caThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Preferred Language:English

Saturday, November 6, 2010

US Court Hearing on Nov 8th 2010

The US bankruptcy court has a hearing planned for November 8th 2010. There are a number of items on the agenda as outlined in the docket on the Epiq web site.

One item is the motion put forward by Nortel to abandon and destroy historical documents. The destruction of those documents is opposed by at least 3 groups. ACS systems, the UK pension trust, and lawyers representing Frank Dunn have all objected and will be heard on November 8th at the session.

If the objections are overturned and the motion approved, then Nortel may destroy documents that could prove important at a later date in terms of claims and decisions.

I hope that none of these documents relate to defined benefits and details of employee pensions since these will be essential to our claims against Nortel. Since the PBGC has not objected I assume that they are happy with the documents turned over to them for the qualified defined benefits.

However the PBGC is in no way taking responsibility for the non-qualified pension benefits. We are on our own in terms of our individual cases.

Since we were supplied with calculations earlier from Segal, the Nortel paperwork and Segal paperwork should be filed in Segal's offices. Nevertheless it is important that everyone who submitted a claim keep copies of their supporting paperwork handy to ensure that their claim is properly supported.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Latest News from NRPC Canada

The following topics were reported by the Montreal Chapter of the NRPC.

Financial Sponsorship Model

NRPC & Legal met with the Ontario Minister of Finance on Friday October 29th to review three proposals put forward by unnamed financial institutions. In fact,this was somewhat of a change since their previous position as the government of Ontario showed little interest in pursuing the FSM concept.

As of today, there is no information from the Friday meeting

Canadian Health & Welfare Trust Fund Claim.

At the end of December Canadian pensioners will lose Health & Welfare benefit coverage. Even though Nortel is no longer funding the plan there are remaining assets in the fund, which must be distributed. Various legal groups have made claims against the assets on behalf of pensioners, LTDs etc. The Judge heard the briefs about a month ago and he is expected to render a decision shortly on how the balance in the trust fund will be disbursed amongst the claimants.

If there is no further litigation subsequent to his decision, eligible pensioners should receive a cheque late this year or early next year for their portion of the claim.

Pension Plan Claim
Morneau Sobeco and the NRPC Legal team will be making a claim on behalf of pensioners to recover some of the pension payment losses that will be incurred.

These claims are far from being settled, as there are a number of events that must take place beforehand. The pension claim is part of a larger claims process. To begin with the Nortel assets are been held in a lock box in the US and a Mediator has been assigned to divide the assets between the UK, the US and Canada and not surprisingly each country is trying to get as much of the assets as possible.

The various parties have submitted and exchanged briefs. The parties will be in court in January to come up with a methodology to split the assets between the countries. After a process is in place, hopefully, the mediator and claimants can come up with an agreed division of the assets.

The overall process is very complex and without precedence due to the size of the bankruptcy and will most likely prove to be lengthy. It would be very difficult to predict how long it may take to finalize the process.

Manulife Benefit Replacement Plan

Manulife has been selected as the provider of choice to replace the benefits being terminated by Nortel. This is not a group plan but an individual plan. Each person needs to make a choice based on his or her needs whether to join the plan or not.

In the near future, Canadian pensioners should receive a package of information from Manulife the target date is mid December. The package will include the various options offered, costs & timelines, etc.

The registration period will run from Jan 7 to March 7 with an effective date of January 1. No medical is required. If you register after March 7th, a medical examination may be required.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Canadian Pension Wind-Up process

The following information is taken from the Morneau-Sobeco, (administrators for the Nortel pension fund), web site for Nortel pensioners. This indicates that a wind-up date has not yet been established. The date will be determined after M.S. have examined all the assets and liabilities and will be included in a report and recommendation to the pension regulator. At this point I assume M.S. are working to assure themselves that they know the full value of the assets, and what the total pension liabilities are for the funds.

One item that is not clear is the inclusion of any payout from the remaining Nortel estate. If there is a percentage payout on our pension claim it will be added to the pension funds assets and used in determining our final reduced pensions. I don't see how a wind-up date can be established until that payout is defined by the bankruptcy court, which may take years to finalize.

Morneau Sobeco Information:

The Wind Up Report
As part of the wind up process, we will submit a recommendation to the appropriate regulatory authority depending on where the pension plan is registered to prepare an order that the pension plan be wound up.

Based on the approved wind up date(s), a final Wind Up Report will be prepared and submitted to the appropriate regulatory authority for their review and approval.This Wind Up Report will contain all members’ final pension benefit entitlements in the pension plan and their individual PBGF coverage, if applicable.

Option forms
Once the Wind Up Report has been approved, we will prepare personalized option forms for each member and former member who is not yet receiving a monthly pension payment from the pension plan.

The personalized option form will set out the pension benefit entitlement and the settlement options available to the member in accordance with the pension plan documents and the applicable legislation and regulations. The member will have an opportunity to advise us of any data corrections that should be made.

Purchasing annuities
In the final stages of our wind up administration, we will purchase annuities through a bidding process from one or more Canadian life insurance companies for pensioners and members who choose the pension option in accordance with the provisions of the pension plan documents and the applicable legislation and regulations.

All pensioners and affected members will be notified of the amount of their monthly annuity and the contact information for the successful insurance company. There will be no interruption to monthly pension payments during the transition period.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Termination Fund- Koskie Minsky statement

The following statement appeared on the Koskie Minsky site on Nov,1,2010.

November 1, 2010 Termination Fund: Upcoming Payments

The Settlement Agreement that was approved by the Court on March 31, 2010 established a Termination Fund for the benefit of certain Nortel terminated employees who were still owed termination or severance payments. All terminated employees who are eligible for this payment received a letter in September indicating their eligibility and outlining the method of payment.

Please note that cash payments will begin to be made effective October 29, 2010. Some individuals who commenced employment with Nortel prior to 1996 were eligible for a retiring allowance and therefore were provided the option for their Termination Fund payment to be made directly into an RRSP account. Please note that transfers into RRSP accounts are still being processed. Individuals who chose this option should not expect their payment for several more weeks

Nortel US medical plan

Usually by this time of year Nortel US has sent out a document with details of the medical plan for employees and retirees for the following year. So far we retires have not received anything.

Earlier this year Nortel tried to place a motion before the court to terminate the medical plan, but subsequently withdrew the motion when they were faced with a decision in another court regarding the process by which a company in chapter 11 may terminate a medical plan. At the same time the US NRPC had submitted a motion to the court to consider formation of a voluntary employee benefits association (VEBA). That motion was also withdrwn at a later date.

Today I saw a posting on the Yahoo Nortel Pension Group which indicated that Nortel is actually planning to send out plan information. The posting stated:

" I got an e mail from a Nortel HR person indicating that next month
> (Nov) enrollment packages would be sent out. Usually some tweeking of
> benefits takes place as well as a cost increase. NT is a bit late in sending
> out the enrollment this year. I am surprised the plan is still operational."

Hopefully this is going to happen and that we will see a continuation of the Nortel medical plan for retirees.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

UK pension wind-up process and document

The Nortel Canadian pension administration has been taken over by Morneau Sobeco and they are in the process of working towards determining the wind-up of the pension fund.

In my research into wind-up on the internet I came across the UK process in the document which can be seen at the link below. The document is very detailed with a lot of clear information on what happens during a Pension wind-up in the UK.

Unfortunately I have not been able to find a document with similar detail on the Canadian process, though I will continue looking.

In the US the registered pension fund was taken over by the PBGC last year and they are administering it and providing pensions as per their rules. Most US pensioners are happy with the process. Some are unhappy since they have had reductions in pension as a result of the PBGC rules. It is possible to determine what happens when the PBGC takes over by examining their site.

Unfortunately in Canada there doesn't appear to be similar clarity and transparency, and as a result many of us are uncertain as to what the actual methodology will be, and how it will be applied. M.S. has placed some summary information on their web-site but it is inadequate to answer many questions posed by pensioners and deferred pensioners as seen on the Yahoo Nortel Pension group site.

The NRPC proposal to extend the life of the fund using alternative methods seems to be a possibility that many of us would prefer, yet the Ontario government and the Canadian Federal government are blocking this approach. Looking through the UK document I see that alternatives to annuities are acceptable in the UK wind-up system.

The Canadian government should do some benchmarking on the US and UK ,at least, and give pensioners better treatment than they currently seem to be doing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sale of Carling facility

Ernst and Young, the Canadian monitors, published their 56th report and posted it on their website. The report contains the details behind the process used to sell the Carling R&D buildings.

At the time of entering CCAA and Chapter 11, there were 3000 people working in the Carling facility. Today there are about 200.

The gross sale price is $208M and the final purchaser was determined after a process which attracted 24 possible candidates.

You can look at the details of the sale on the monitor's website in their reports section, #56.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monitor's 55th report on Nortel status

Ernst & Young have posted their 55th report on their website.
The cash position reported is $5.9B cash, with $749 in US, $189M in Canada,$749M in UK and Emea, and $461 APAC for continuing operations.

Some comments by the Monitor.

The Stay Period presently expires on October 29,2010. The Applicants are seeking a 122 day extension of the Stay Period up to and including February 28, 2011. As stated above, based on the cash flow analysis including the assumptions contained therein, the Applicants have sufficient cash resources to fund operations through the requested stay extension.

Termination payments.

On September 17, 1,158 former employees were notified by mail they were eligible for a maximum payment of CAD $3,000 from the Termination Fund. These eligible former employees were requested to confirm their contact information and in certain cases, where service was given prior to 1996, and to elect whether or not to direct part or ll of their payment into an RRSP as an eligible retiring allowance. This had to be completed by October 15, 2010 in order to receive their payment by early November 2010. If this deadline was not met, the payment wil be processed as soon as possible after the confirmation is received by Nortel.

On September 23,2010,279 former employees who were not eligible for a payment from the Termination Fund were notified of being ineligible by maiL.

As of October 15, 2010,78% of former employees who were eligible for a payment from the Termination Fund have returned their confirmation to the Company. It is anticipated these payments wil be processed by early November. The Monitor understands that once these payments are processed, the Company wil attempt to contact those who have not responded in order to reach as many of the eligible former employees as possible.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Canadian Pension Check

This is the first month after Nortel stopped administering the Canadian Pension trust fund. Morneau Sobeco is now the administrator of the plan. My Canadian pension check stub arrived as per normal from Northern Trust yesterday indicating that they were paying the same amount into my bank account via direct deposit.

It makes sense that Morneau Sobeco would continue to use Northern Trust at least for a while until they get all the database information established and reviewed. It is also nice to see no reduction yet in the pension amount but that will only be for a short time until Morneau Sobeco is able to complete their analysis of the fund assets and liabilities. So future reductions await us.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nortel Canada Pension Funds NOT Mismanaged

The following detail was provided in a letter to the members of the CAW by Barry E. Wadsworth, Associate Counsel for CAW, regarding the rumor being spread by elected Canadian government officials that Nortel's Canadian pension fund was mismanaged.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

In recent weeks, the CAW has held several information sessions for the unionized retirees, terminated and LTD employees regarding the Nortel bankruptcy process. An issue was raised regarding Ontario Finance Minister Duncan's statement that the Nortel pension funds were seriously mismanaged. Barry Wadsworth, CAW Legal Counsel and Court-appointed legal representative for over the 600 Nortel unionized employees, has prepared the following which can be used in your letter writing to your MPP and to Minister Duncan and Premier McGuinty:

Letter from Barry Wadsworth, CAW Legal Counsel

Dear Brothers/Sisters,

I have received a request from one of the individuals who attended one of our Nortel information meetings to provide, as I had promised I would, points to refute the Minister of Finance's statement that the Nortel pension plan was mismanaged. These points are as follows.

1. The underfunding of the pension plan was as a result of Government policy, by way of the Pension Benefits Act, which does not require that companies fund pension plans on a fully funded wind-up basis. That is, the Government should require companies to fully fund pension plans as if they might go bankrupt tomorrow. Instead, the Act allows companies to fund pension plans as if they will go on forever and any momentary underfunding will eventually be paid for over time. If there was a requirement for fully funded wind-up funding, there would never be a need for the Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund or losses to retiree incomes when an underfunded plan is wound-up. The costs would be fully borne by the companies and not by transfers from taxpayers to the PBGF.

2. Moreover, part of the current underfunding resulted from the 2008 - 2009 losses in the stock market and therefore the value of the equities held by the fund. This is not mismangement - the level of equities in the pension plan was in keeping with the guidelines set under the PBA. Many, if not all, defined benefit pension plans suffered the same losses.

3. Part of the current underfunding resulted from the lowering of the interest rates, which resulted in a lowering of the return on the bonds and other instruments held by the pension plan. This is the same as for equities, above.

4. If there really was mismanagement of the pension plan then the Financial Services Commission should have stepped in to protect the assets of the plan from the former administrator, Mercers.

5. I have not seen where the government or FSCO have brought any charges against Mercers under the PBA, nor has Nortel - the payor Company, nor any individual or group of retiree beneficiaries under the Plan. This is likely because there was no mismanagement as alleged by the Minister. The remarks were therefore ill advised and baseless.

Barry E. Wadsworth
Associate Counsel
CAW-Canada Legal Department
Last Updated ( Monday, 18 October 2010 )

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Canadian Government to buy Nortel Carling building at bankruptcy price

The following story was published in the Ottawa Citizen last week.

Public Works is set to announce, as early as next week,the purchase of the Nortel Networks campus in west Ottawa for the Department of National Defence, which has wanted for years to consolidate its dozens of offices in the city into several key locations.

The successful purchase of the $150-million Nortel campus will accomplish that goal, government sources say.

DND has been concerned about security, rising rents and aging buildings. The consolidation will also cut costs.

The deal could be announced as early as Monday, but there is concern, however, about how DND employees, many of whom live in Orléans — which some jokingly refer to as CFB Orléans — will take the news.

DND offices are situated in almost 40 locations across the National Capital Region and the move is expected to bring many of those under one roof. The department will continue to operate National Defence headquarters in downtown Ottawa.

Public Works officials said they couldn’t respond to a Citizen request for comment until sometime on Monday or after.

But the head of the Defence Department’s largest union said he had already heard about the department’s move to the Nortel facility, although his organization hasn’t been consulted.

John MacLennan, national president of the Union of National Defence Employees, said his organization is concerned about transportation problems for workers.

“This means Canadian Forces Base Orléans will have to go to work in Kanata,” MacLennan said. “You’re adding on extra time to get to work, from one end of the city to the other and transit services aren’t the best. It’s going to be a challenge for a lot of people.”

MacLennan said the department has more than 9,000 employees in the capital region.

There are already indications that the move for DND offices is being planned.
On Thursday, a top Public Works and Government Services Canada official confirmed that the federal government plans to empty one million square feet of office space in downtown Ottawa.

Claude Séguin, the director general of portfolio management for Public Works and Government Services, told a commercial real-estate conference that the government will leave Centretown office space, equal to 10 per cent of current federal space and about the size of L’Esplanade Laurier, over the next three to five years.
When asked about the Nortel property, Séguin responded: “We have been engaged in the bidding process and at this time it would be premature to say more. There is no agreement in place and we will have no further comment.”

Five years ago, the Defence Department had plans to vacate its various offices downtown and consolidate those into several central existing locations, including in the Louis St.-Laurent Building in Gatineau and in an office complex on Star Top Road. The third main site would have been the JDS Uniphase complex on Merivale Road.
DND eventually had to scrape the acquisition of the JDS complex and the RCMP moved into the campus.

The negotiations to sell the Nortel campus have been underway since the spring. Bidding by private- and public-sector contenders is believed to have gone through two rounds.

Nortel is believed to be seeking $150 million, a price that some think is high.
The federal government has always been seen as the most logical candidate for the 1.7 million square feet of office space. But the government was expected to sign a long-term lease and let private-sector managers and investors provide the financing to buy, renovate and manage the property.

Minto Developments led this approach when it bought the former JDS Uniphase campus for lease to the RCMP.

But Séguin said “we are not contemplating leasing” (the Nortel campus) because of “specific government needs.”

Some experts think the government may be trying to buy the Nortel campus at depressed bankruptcy prices, an approach that worked with some other Nortel properties that it now occupies.

With files from Bert Hill
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