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Sears Canada to seek court approval to suspend benefits for retirees

Last Updated Jul 6, 2017 at 1:40 pm EDT

A shopper walks toward the Sears store (Flickr)

Sears Canada says it will go to court next week to seek approval to suspend some benefits for its retired employees as well as special payments to its defined benefit pension plan.

The ailing retailer says it will also ask the Ontario Superior Court on July 13 to extend court protection from creditors to Oct. 4, giving it time to seek out potential investors and buyers and consult with its landlords, employees, suppliers and creditors.

Sears Canada had already indicated in its initial court filings on June 22 that it planned to suspend life insurance, health and dental benefits to certain employees during the restructuring.

The restructuring hasn’t affected monthly pension payments to the retirement plan’s beneficiaries.

The company expects to complete its sale and investment solicitation process by Oct. 25.

After years of declining sales, Sears Canada sought creditor protection last month.

NDP Pensions Critic Scott Duvall is calling on the Liberal government to protect the benefits of Sears Canada employees and retirees.

“The pensions earned by workers from Sears Canada are deferred wages, plain and simple,” said Duvall in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “Diverting, withholding or seizing those funds should be illegal.”

“Workers fulfilled their obligation regarding their pension; companies like Sears Canada must do the same.”

“This needs to be about fairness for workers. We will continue to fight for a Canada that works for everyone and will make sure corporations and multinationals can’t steal the pensions their workers and retirees have earned.”