Stelco pension plans reach 85% funded status after $142M boost

Stelco Inc’s owner paid $142 million into the company’s pension plans at the end of March, bringing them to a funded status of 85 per cent on a solvency basis.

In addition to the $142 million, Stelco’s owner Bedrock Industries Group has injected two previous payments totalling $50 million into the plans since July 1, 2017, according to a press release from United Steelworkers Local 1005. Of the $142 million, $94.6 million is being allocated to the local’s pension plan for bargaining unit employees. 

Read: Stelco’s long battle on the pension precipice

The release notes this is positive news for all stakeholders. According to Local 1005’s president Gary Howe, the No. 1 question the union gets from retirees is: “Will I get 100 per cent of my pension deposited into my account the first of each month.” He believes the latest payment is another step in ensuring that happens.

The union also referred to the Ontario government’s announcement in its 2018 budget that the pension benefit guarantee fund’s monthly coverage limits will increase from $1,000 to $1,500 and that the changes will apply retroactively to plans with a windup date on or after May 19, 2017. 

“While long overdue, we do view this as a positive step in the right direction,” noted the union’s release. “We view pensions as deferred wages and that is unconscionable that a person who works for 30 or 40 years would have their pensions reduce, therefore depriving them of living in dignity. Our thoughts go out to retirees, such as the Sears Canada workers, who have lost or have been threatened with the loss of their pensions.” 

Stelco and Bedrock Industries didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Read: Disclosable event regime, Sears measures among pension changes in Ontario budget