A legal battle involving pension funds from a closed pulp mill in Nackawic, N.B.,ended Thursday when the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal by former workers.
When the St. Anne-Nackawic mill suddenly shut down in September 2004, its pension plan was underfunded by $40 million. It meant workers over age 55 would receive 87 per cent of their pension benefits, and younger ones would get nothing at all.
A year later, however, the former Bernard Lord government changed the Pension Act to allow the distribution of the pension to include those under 55. That meant older workers would receive even less — between 65 per cent and 72 per cent.
The older workers took the province to court, but both the New Brunswick Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada have refused to hear the case.
Craig Melanson, who headed the fight for the older workers, said he feels doubly violated because he lost pension money when the mill closed and more when the government changed the rules.
"The government would like us to be upset with the original owner. He only took 10 to 12 per cent. The government took 25 per cent."
Melanson said the fact that the Supreme Court won't hear the case isn't bad news only for the former Nackawic workers: he said it opens the door for any government across the country to change pension plans while leaving employees with no options to fight the change.