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

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Ernst & Young 1-866-942-7177

FADOQ Federation Age D'Or du Quebec

KM Law 1-866-777-6344

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Sun-Life Insurance 1-800-361-2128

Long Term Disabled
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Negotiated Pension 1-877-392-2073

Non-Negotiated Pension 1-877-392-2074

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

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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