Former Sears employee asks MP to help with pensions

Nick Seebruch
Former Sears employee asks MP to help with pensions
The outside of Sears at the Cornwall Square (Nick Seebruch/ TC Media).

CORNWALL, Ontario – Former Sears employee Sydney Gardiner is asking Stormont, Dundas and South Glengary MP Guy Lauzon to address the challenges created by the Sears Canada bankruptcy

On Friday, Oct. 13, the Ontario Superior Court approved a motion by Sears to liquidate all of its remaining stores in Canada. The bankruptcy will leave 12, 000 Sears Canada employees without a job and threaten the pensions of former employees as the company struggles to pay off its creditors.

“Why don’t we have pension protection in Canada,” asked Gardiner. “They have it in Europe, they have it in the States, so why not here?”

Gardiner is asking MP Guy Lauzon to be present during a hearing on protecting worker pensions in Canada.

“I want our MP to sit in on it and hear what we need to do to protect workers in our country,” he said.

The bill was proposed by Scott Duvall, the NDP’s Pension’s critic. Duvall objects to the fact that Sears is paying $7.6 million to 43 executives while former employees are receiving no severance pay.

“This is shameful and obscene. How does Sears justify paying performance bonuses to top executives of a company that is filing for bankruptcy?” said Scott Duvall, in July. “That money should be going to the thousands of workers who have just lost their jobs.”

CARP, formerly known as the Canadian Association for Retired Persons, will be making a presentation to Parliament on the bill on Oct. 25.

“Canada’s bankruptcy laws must change to recognize that after employees, pensioners have top claim to any remaining assets until their pensions are fully funded,” said Wanda Morris, VP of Advocacy for CARP in a press release on their website in July. “Just because a company fails doesn’t mean its current and future pensioners should lose their retirement security too. All Canadians bear the costs when pensioners lose retirement income.”

Gardiner went on to explain that one of the things that bothered him in the saga that lead to the collapse of Sears Canada was the fact that they were still passing on profits to shareholders while cutting pensions and severance to employees.

“I guess what bothers me the most is that there has been $600 million given over the past five years to shareholders,” he said. “They knew this was coming but they still got $600 million.”

Gardiner had sent an email to MP Guy Lauzon asking him to respond to the Sears issue and be present for the upcoming hearing on pension protection.

Seaway News had reached out to Guy Lauzon’s office for a comment on this topic. Lauzon’s Chief of Staff Adrian Bugelli stated that Lauzon would be at the hearing on Oct. 25, but had no stance ion Duvall’s bill as of yet because while Duvall has proposed the bill, no formal legislation has been tabled yet.

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