Nova Scotia

NewPage pensioners angry with Nova Scotia government

NewPage pensioners say they're being ignored by the provincial government.

Pensioners say the province should bail out their pension plan

 NewPage pensioners say they're being ignored by the provincial government.

The pensioners said  the province is doing nothing for them, but the government will help bail out the pension plan of former Bowater-Mersey mill workers in southwestern Nova Scotia.

NewPage pensioners have seen their payments cut by 34 percent, because their plans were underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars.

The premier says the two situations are very different, because the Bowater assets more than cover the cost of the pension liability.

NewPage, the Premier said, had no assets because the company went bankrupt, therefore it had nothing to help cover the shortfall to pensioners.

But NewPage pensioner Harvey Warner doesn't see it that way.

"I'm not feeling good and there's a lot of people not feeling good because they can get money and we can't," said Warner.

He said the province should have been monitoring the pension fund all along, to make sure it was properly topped up.

"Should have followed the pension statements more closely, see how badly it was underfunded and how much money was being contributed. Protected the pensions more as they said they were going to in 2007 - 2008, by the pensions department that would make sure we were looked after, but for some reason they left us behind, and looked after the companies which we thought the pension act was for the employees and the retirees," said Warner.

The Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union said pensioners are angry and confused.

Local vice-president Archie MacLachlan say it's time to change the pension legislation to make sure this never happens again.

"Require companies to pay in good times as well as bad. Unfortunately when interest rates are very high companies could take holidays. If companies were required to pay in, we wouldn't be in the situation we're in today. It's a frustrating situation no matter which way you slice it," said MacLachlan.

Harvey Warner is also one of about 250 pensioners who found out recently they were over paid

In his case he'll have to pay back more than $32,000.

The pensioners are now calling for an inquiry to find out what happened to the money they'd been counting on to retire.