Protect workers and retirees of steel industry

It is vital to this province’s continued economic health that we preserve steel manufacturing both in northern Ontario, in Sault Ste. Marie, and in southern locations such as Hamilton and Nanticoke.

The restructuring of Stelco has entered a new phase with a proposed sale of the company being put to a vote of creditors in April. Some 20,000 workers, retirees and their families are deeply concerned. Based on past, painful experiences, they are skeptical of the good faith of foreign investors and doubtful of the ability of Canadian governments to enforce agreements made by these investors.

The rights and interests of all Stelco workers and retirees must be protected. The promises of pensions and health benefits to Stelco retirees, earned through decades of labour, must be honoured. They want to know why this government is allowing the pension plan to be taken off the balance sheet in this proposed sale. Why is it not considered a liability of the company? This company will have almost $300 million in cash at the end of May. Why have the post-employment benefits of retirees, so desperately needed, not been fully restored?

Never again should a foreign company buying one of this province’s major manufacturers be allowed to escape its obligations and commitments through a secret renegotiation and agreement with the federal government. We need to know that this government will hold any new buyer fully accountable for every promise it makes to the workers, retirees and governments.

(Hansard: March 27, 2017)