Provincial pension plan threatened by company failures

It is impossible to know how much money will be needed to support pensions through a wave of bankruptcies by large corporations, wrote Canwest News Service April 21, citing comments by former York president & vice-chancellor Harry Arthurs, in a story about a potential collapse of the Ontario Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund, which pays pensioners up to $1,000 per month.

“I don’t know what it all adds up to,” said Arthurs, who is also a former dean and current University Professor of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School . “You’d really have to go through each person’s pension entitlement and see how far below $1,000 each would fall before you can calculate the claim on the fund.”

Arthurs authored a recent review of Ontario pension laws that concluded the safety net could soon fail. In an interview Tuesday, Arthurs said the provincial plan had only a few problems meeting its obligations until the past decade. “Since 2000, the rate of claims and probably size of claims has increased as bigger companies have gotten into difficulties,” he said. Arthurs recently said bankruptcy at one sufficiently large company, or several large companies,“ would cause the plan to go broke.”

Durham, Pickering plug York student’s electric car petition

Durham and Pickering councils are getting behind a student activist’s campaign to bring electric cars to Canada, wrote the Durham Business Times April 21. York student Peter Derus spoke to Pickering council on Monday and to Durham Region’s finance committee last week, saying the move to electric cars is inevitable, with only government regulation standing in the way.

Low-speed electric cars are undergoing a pilot project in Ontario, said Derus, a Bolton resident and astrophysics student at York University. In speaking at Pickering and Durham, Derus is looking for support for his efforts to make the federal and provincial governments move faster on allowing electric cars.

He presented a petition he has been circulating to Pickering councillors, who all signed it. Durham council on Wednesday is expected to endorse Derus’s efforts. Health issues in his family, including his mother suffering from asthma, got him interested in electric cars. Also, he watched the movie Who Killed the Electric Car several times, Derus told the Region’s finance committee. “There are companies that make these cars. All we have to do is bring them here,” Derus said. “We can’t stop at hybrid cars. They’re a step in the right direction.”

York Tamil students take part in Ottawa protest

It was damp and grey in Ottawa on Tuesday, but that did not stop thousands of Canadian Tamil protesters from flooding Parliament Hill to vent their frustration and demand immediate government action to stop the ongoing violence in the decades-old civil war in Sri Lanka, wrote the Ottawa Citizen April 22.

“It really is a war without witnesses and people don’t realize it,” said Shiyana Kulasingham, 20, a York University student who travelled from Toronto with family and friends.

On air

  • Anne Bayefsky, professor of political science in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about Canada’s boycott of the UN World Conference Against Racism, on CBC Radio’s “The Current” April 21.
  • Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about India’s general election on Radio Canada International April 21.
  • Perry Sadorsky, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about recent warnings by the Bank of Canada on CBC Radio’s “Here & Now” April 21.