The Horror Story of the Former Employees of the Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL)
A disaster scenario involving the Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL) came about in 2016, when the company encountered various financial problems leading to its bankruptcy. This situation was within its control but, it should be noted, something was wrong with the pension plan of former employees. They did not receive any information before last May. Indeed, only on 6 May 2022 was a notice sent to them informing that their monthly pensions would be reduced by 18.62%.
Worried and in debt, these former employees did not know what to do. Six years following its bankruptcy, NTCL put its former employees in dire straits. They had trusted the company over many working years. At the time of the bankruptcy, PSAC intervened to protect these employees.
“Once the NTCL declared insolvency, its employees automatically became ‘former employees’,” said James Infantino, PSAC Pension and Disability Insurance Officer. “But we were no less responsible for them.”
The struggle waged by these staff members was a difficult one, and they were unable to blame the government of the day because they had hired Offshore Recruiting Services Inc. (ORSI) to manage NTCL. The government could not be held responsible as it had not hired ORSI directly. Determined to find another solution to safeguard the pension plan of the members, PSAC managed to transfer part of the proceeds from the sale of assets to the pension plan, which, despite this action, remained largely underfunded.
The notice sent to former employees last May came from the company that managed the pension plan, Lifeworks (formerly Morneau Shepell), and was signed by Lifeworks Director, Debbie Gallagher. The letter further informed former employees that the pension plan had been terminated March 31, 2020, but that, following administrative steps taken, approval had not been made official until March 31, 2022.
In addition to losing their pension plan, the retirees had been overpaid between April 2020 and end of March 2022. Wyatt Rathwell, former NTCL chief engineer, and a retiree, says Lifeworks wants to impose a pension on the retirees and will deduct the amount they are owed. This is the result of NTCL’s errors over two years!
Therefore, former employees will have to make do with an annuity, and their pension will be reduced by 18.62%. What is more, Lifeworks is still unable to tell them how much they will receive after deductions.
The anguish is great. These former employees are victims paying for the mistakes of others. Anguished and annoyed by such an unfair set of circumstances, they are being forced into penury. These retirees are entitled, like all Canadian workers, to a well-deserved retirement at the end of a long career. Nightmarish situations like this one remind us how important pensions are to Canadians. The government was unwilling to take responsibility for the company’s mistake, despite the years of work these employees put in for their country. All parties have blatantly ignored the employees involved in such an injustice. Canadian pensioners are paying the price. The pension battle in Canada is far from over.