Budd Canada retirees concerned about losing benefits
There is a lot of anxiety among retirees who worked at the Budd Canada plant as they move closer to losing their health benefits at the end of September.
Some former employees met in Kitchener Thursday to discuss their concerns.
While their pensions aren't in jeopardy, after the ThyssenKrupp-Budd Canada division declared bankruptcy the company decided it would be too expensive to continue to pay the health benefits.
The benefits will conclude at the end of the month, and retirees will be given a one-time payout of roughly $0.35 on the dollar for the package.
That will leave about 1,500 retirees and their spouses without coverage and many are both angry and worried.
Former Budd Canada worker Dave Brindley, who worked at the plant for nearly 40 years, says "Now they've just walked out on us, I think it's criminal."
No one from the company was available to comment Thursday.
In a previous statement, ThyssenKrupp-Budd Canada said it had already paid over $130 million in the past five years to fund pensions and other benefits and that it was no longer sustainable.
But Brindley says other divisions at the company are doing fine, "Net profit was something like $2.7 billion and they're saying they're bankrupt? They're not bankrupt."
The retirees range in age from mid-50s to early 90s, and once they lose their health benefits they will likely have to start looking to private insurance companies.
However, that option could be expensive even if they can find coverage given their age and any pre-existing conditions.
Bob Cruickshank worked at Budd Canada for 30 years. He says "We have people...with Alzheimer's and they're in nursing homes and our plan pays up to $1,700 a month for the cost of the nursing home and at the end of this month they will lose that."
The Canadian Auto Workers' union is blaming federal bankruptcy laws and inadequate provincial legislation on retiree benefit protection.
CAW Local 1541 President Mike Devine calls the company's action despicable, "They're attacking the most vulnerable sector of our society, which is our seniors."
The union wants both levels of government to take action to ensure it doesn't happen to other retirees.