Friday, November 19, 2010

Update on Nortel Benefits Fight

Diane Urquhart sent me an update on the Nortel benefits fight:

Please watch this November 18th interview by Evan Solomon of Jackie Bodie, a Nortel long term disabled employee with Parkinson's Disease, and Senator Art Eggleton, sponsor of Bill S-216:

Watch interview by clicking here.

Jackie Bodie says:

"Take a position. Do the right thing. Pass Bill C-216. It is the right thing to do. By doing nothing, by leaving us hanging, in my opinion, they are effectively giving their blessing to the court judge and lawyers we are dealing with to bury us alive. I do not know why. I do not understand what I and 400 other sick people did wrong to be treated like this."

Below are the videos of the Senate Banking Trade and Commerce Committee Hearings on Bill S-216, which were held on November 17 and 18, 2010. This is a bill to amend the Federal bankruptcy laws to provide for the preferred status of long term disability wage loss replacement income and medical benefit claims above the unsecured creditors at bankrupt employers. These claims arise when employers promise to pay long term disability benefits and then self-insure them without setting aside any or enough money in a trust account to fund these benefits in the event the employer were to become bankrupt.

Without Bill S-216 or another Federal Government alternative, there are 375 Nortel long term disability employees losing their disability income and medical reimbursement in six weeks time.

The anticipated cash settlement approved by Justice Morawetz at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice from the Nortel Health and Welfare Trust can fund only about 30% of their previous disability income, which means their incomes fall to 15% to 21% of the income they had before they got sick. The average CPP disability income is only $9,700 per year, with the maximum at $13,510 per year if there has been enough years service and income up until the start of the disability.

The Health and Welfare Trust distribution decision of J. Morawetz is being appealed by the dissenting Nortel Long Term Disabled Employees. Bill S-216 takes these very sick and injured Canadians out of the court process, by eliminating the need for this appeal. Bill S-216 with its transitional provision will permit the Nortel disabled to continue their disability income and medical reimbursement until their age 65, death or recovery from their disability.

Senate Banking Trade and Commerce Meeting No. 29

Room 9, Victoria Building, 140 Wellington Street, Ottawa

Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM EST 120 minutes

Senate Banking Trade and Commerce Meeting No. 28

Room 9, Victoria Building, 140 Wellington Street, Ottawa

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM EST 120 minutes

Take it from someone who knows firsthand that your life can turn around very quickly if you're diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening disease. I understand Jackie Bodie's and Peter Burns' frustration. These people are desperate and sick and they shouldn't be fighting in bankruptcy court. They deserve to be treated fairly and honorably, and the Canadian government better get its act together and pass Bill C-216 as soon as possible. This is a shameful chapter in the long Nortel saga. Let's hope justice finally prevails for Nortel's disabled.

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