Former Sears employee waited to hear Sudbury store's closure was a 'mistake'

Former Sears Home employee Anne Smith said the last few weeks have felt surreal as she and 25 of her colleagues wound down operations at their store in Sudbury, Ont., and now wait to hear if they will receive pensions.

Anne Smith is one of hundreds of former Sears employees waiting to find out what will happen to their pensions

Sears Home store closed in Sudbury, Ont., after labour day weekend. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Former Sears Home employee Anne Smith said the last few weeks have felt surreal as she and 25 of her colleagues wound down operations at their store in Sudbury, Ont.

"We kept waiting for them [Sears] to call and say yeah it's a mistake," Smith said.

"We couldn't wrap our heads around what was going on."

Smith said she found out she was losing her sales associate job through a concerned client, who called after hearing the Canadian retail giant planned to liquidate dozens of stores and lay off hundreds of workers to avoid bankruptcy.

Smith describes the experience as floating in limbo without answers from human resources or head office. 

She has started a new job with Bianco's Supercenter in Sudbury since her store closed after Labour Day, but she does not know if she will receive a pension after her 17-year career.

'Workers should be able to get what they're owned'

"I question why this is allowed to happen in Canada," Smith said.

"I really, truly believe that this is something that the government should be looking at."

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath is pushing the provincial government to step up and put pressure on Ottawa.

"Making sure that those pensioners get their pensions should be ahead of the line," Horwath said.

"The workers should be able to get what they're owed."

But it is unclear if that will happen.

Sears is fighting employee payouts in court.

Smith said all she can do is check for updates in the hope she will get what she worked for.

"I'm fortunate to not be in dire straits as far as financial obligations, but I can only imagine if it was somebody who was really counting on this support or this resolution," Smith said. 

"It would just be one stressful time."

About the Author

Olivia Stefanovich

Senior reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a national reporter for CBC Saskatchewan on secondment from CBC Sudbury. She covers news from across the province for radio, TV and online. Connect with her on Twitter @CBCOlivia. Send story ideas to olivia.stefanovich@cbc.ca.