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The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia rules newspaper must pay $2.6 million in overdue solvency special payments after determining solvency relief measures are not retroactive


February 29, 2024

A newspaper company must contribute $2.66 million in special payments owed to its pension plan from 2018 and 2019 after the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ruled that the province’s later amendments to funding requirements did not have a retrospective effect.

The Halifax Herald became liable for the special payments after a 2017 valuation report revealed the plan was not 100% funded on a solvency basis, as was required. Despite this, the Herald withheld payments owed throughout 2018 and 2019, anticipating sensing that the funding requirements would soon be lowered.

Amended Regulations were ultimately implemented in 2020, reducing the requirement to fund a solvency deficit to 85%. The Herald was of the view that it was no longer required to make the solvency special payments due for 2018 and 2019 as the plan met the new 85% solvency ratio. However, the Nova Scotia Labour Board denied The Herald’s claim that the Regulations applied retrospectively, concluding that the 2018 and 2019 payments remained owing. The court agreed, finding that “there is no language in the Regulations that relieves The Herald from its obligation to make the solvency  ‘special payments’ that became due” prior to 2020.

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