November 24, 2015
Miss Monique Taylor: Today is Hamilton Day at Queen’s Park. I grew up in the east end of Hamilton, home to the steel works. For many it was a hard life. But people worked hard and many were able to forge a good future for their families.
Those who worked in the steel mills knew it wasn’t paradise. They recognized the dangers of working there. It wasn’t necessarily the future that they wanted for their kids, so they made plans. They put money away for their kids’ education. Instead of asking for big raises, they negotiated decent pensions and health benefits for when they retired. Although the work was hard and dangerous, they were comforted that they had made the best of it to secure a decent life ahead for them and their families.
Later in life, I moved up onto the mountain, an area of the city that I share with the highest proportion of steel retirees in the city. They are my neighbours and my friends. Their dream has turned into a nightmare. US Steel has reneged on agreements that it made years ago. Through decades of service, the workers fulfilled their part of the deal, but US Steel feels no obligation to fulfill its end of it. Health benefits have stopped with no notice, and people are worried about their pensions.
The government committed $3 million to a transitional fund for health benefits, but nobody knows where it is and how to access it. I urge the government, Speaker, to confirm the process immediately and allow people this badly needed funding.