Benefits fund to aid U.S. Steel Canada retirees approved

24 December 2015

A $3 million transition fund to cover health costs for retired employees of U.S. Steel Canada was approved in Ontario Superior Court Wednesday.

The Ontario government announced the fund in October to address the most urgent and critical medical needs of retirees who had their benefits cut off by the troubled company on Oct. 9. U.S. Steel Canada, formerly Stelco, filed for creditor protection on Sept. 16, 2014.

The transition fund will run from Jan. 1 until March 31, or until the fund is used up, court documents show. The majority of the fund, $2.5 million, will be used to pay for prescriptions while the remaining $500,000 will go towards other urgent dental and health benefits. It will not include routine care, like dental check-ups, eye exams, hearing tests, massage therapy, and travel insurance.

In a statement in October, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said the fund was only meant to help the retirees until they could find other health coverage.

"The province remains committed to working with all stakeholders in the restructuring process to achieve the best possible outcome for employees, pensioners, suppliers, customers and the long-term viability of the Canadian operations," Duncan said.

Final details about the fund will be sent to the retirees in the mail following Wednesday's decision.

U.S. Steel Canada has employed about 2,000 people at the Hamilton Works in Hamilton and Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Ont.

U.S. Steel's American parent company has also filed court documents saying it is seeking more than $2.2 billion from U.S. Steel Canada.