Premier rules out deal for NewPage pensioners
Port Hawkesbury Mayor calling for help after agreement struck for Bowater-Mersey retirees
Premier Darrell Dexter says comparing the NewPage pension problems with that of former Bowater-Mersey employees is "fundamentally unfair" and there's no way he'll consider a deal to help shrinking Newpage pensions.
Monday, the Nova Scotia government announced it spent $100 million to buy employee pension liabilities. The investment means pensions for former mill employees will be 100 per cent covered.
Meanwhile, former workers at the NewPage plant in Port Hawkesbury saw their pensions sliced by more than 30 per cent this summer. Some retirees are also being told they've been overpaid and may have to pay back some of the money.
The Mayor of Port Hawesbury, Billy Joe MacLean, said the Bowater deal gave his community hope. He appealed to Dexter for help.
"You've looked after one pensioner group from the same union, with the same jobs, with the same situation," he said. "The pensioners had the same impact in Port Hawkesbury as they did in Liverpool."
MacLean asked publicly if Cabinet would be making a pension announcement in his community anytime soon.
Dexter wasted no time to squash any hope for aid.
"There is nothing to revisit," Dexter said. "These are fundamentally different plans."
The Premier said Bowater came with an asset base while NewPage does not.
"In the end of the day, they worked for a company that went bankrupt, that had no assets. We worked with Billy Joe, with all the municipal officials down there, to make sure that we could give that plan the opportunity to operate."
Dexter said the government worked just as hard on Port Hawkesbury as it did on the deal on the South Shore.
In October, the mill in Port Hawkesbury opened with Pacific West at the helm. The reopening followed several months of uncertainty that saw the deal called off, and then back on in a matter of hours.
"We worked very hard to make sure that that was not the end of the forestry sector in the Strait area," said Dexter.