Premier pledges provincial support for Algoma pensions
Published Wednesday, October 24, 2018 1:57PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 24, 2018 2:20PM EDT
Premier Doug Ford is in White River Wednesday as he continues a visit to northern Ontario.
He was in Sault Ste. Marie on Tuesday and pledged his government's support for the local steel plant, Algoma.
Ford says his party will take action to help Algoma by backing pension obligations laid out in the Pension Benefits Act.
This will help the company exit creditor protection and restructure itself.
The premier says the province and Algoma will soon have an agreement in place that will secure pension benefits for current and former employees.
"We're just in the middle of talks right now, but it's going to be substantial and it's going to really support Sault Ste. Marie and the steelworkers." said Ford.
Algoma's CEO, Kalyan Ghosh, says finalizing a deal through the Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund is one of the final steps in order for the company to extricate itself from creditor protection and complete the restructuring process.
"There are a few more steps in terms of getting exit financing etc., but that's under process and we're well within our time frame to come out in the next few weeks." said Ghosh.
He says the news should provide comfort to the more than 6,000 retired steel workers receiving pension benefits from the company, and also for more than 2,000 active employees.
"There was never any danger of them losing any pension benefit, but being covered under the PBGF gives them extra cover." said Ghosh.
The other issue hanging over Algoma and the city is the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. The premier addressed that issue while in the Soo as well.
"I've been burning up the phone lines with all the governors. There are 19 states that we're their number one trading partner, another eight that we're number two. We do a massive amount, $489 billion a year alone in trade to the U.S., pretty much split down the middle. We're going to keep fighting, getting our voice heard." said Ford.
Ghosh says he remains encouraged to see that politicians at all levels are working on supporting the steel industry and he says Algoma is in a good position to meet all the requirements to complete the Pension Benefit Guarantee Agreement.