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Canada Official: U.S. Steel Pensions, Loans Safe

Despite massive layoffs at U.S. Steel Canada, lawmaker says he's been reassured workers will get their pensions and that the company will pay back government loans.

TORONTO (CP) -- Premier Dalton McGuinty says he's been reassured workers at U.S. Steel Canada will get their pensions despite massive layoffs.

McGuinty says representatives of the former Stelco told the Ontario government they will honor all their obligations for both pensions and government loans.

But he admits he doesn't know what that means in terms of bringing back any of the 1,500 lost jobs amid a temporarily shutdown of its Hamilton mill and most of its Lake Erie operations.

Ontario loaned Stelco $100 million as part of its restructuring in 2005, money McGuinty says he still believes will be paid back.

He also says these most recent job losses reinforce the government's obligations to help workers affected by what he calls "perhaps the most challenging time in many generations."

McGuinty says it shows the planned $18-billion deficit over two years is the right move because it will give the government additional resources.

NDP critic Paul Miller calls the Stelco closure a "shocking blow" and an example of what happens when a country's base industries are sold to foreign buyers.

Layoffs in the auto, forestry and industrial sectors have cost tens of thousands of jobs in recent years in Canada's manufacturing heartland.

Ontario's opposition parties say the Liberal government's policies on taxes and electricity pricing are at least partially to blame for the move by U.S. Steel.

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