Monday, December 20, 2010

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.

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