A Year Ago

This was written in 2009 a year after I had been laid off, and I was about to start a new job, interesting reflections

This is the one year anniversary of my lay off notice from Nortel. A lot has happened in the past year (unfortunately not a job offer for me, but I am still optimistic), that have me thinking that for something bad, it may end up being a good thing.

Nortel Once a Giant Now Deceased High Tech Firm


The atmosphere at Nortel had been such that since about 2000, there was a constant feeling of the Sword of Damocles hanging over you. I lived through about 16  lay off rounds in the various groups I had worked in, so the actual lay off was almost a relief in a very odd way.  My minister made that exact comment that since he had first met me every time he spoke to me I mentioned something about impending lay offs, so my eventual lay off was anti-climatic in a perverse way.

Severance Paid

From my calculations I was in the last group (or nearly the last group) that received full severance from Nortel. The people after me are on a long list of creditors who will be paid little or none of what they are owed (or were promised by the company). There are many very sad stories that I have heard from people I used to work with, and I count myself as very fortunate.

The latest stories are sickening to hear that they will be withdrawing payments to people on long term disability, as well as pulling their medical coverage. Hopefully there will be government assistance to these folks, but I am not optimistic.

Pension Losses

I suspect that Nortel’s pension debacle may only be the tip of the ice berg in corporate Canada, with Air Canada already having done this (and doing it again).  I took my pension money out of Nortel when I could, which in hindsight was a great decision but at the time it was more my lack of trust in the company that made me do it, not any great insight.

All pensions these days seem to be under pressure (even the Public Service pension lost $9Billion dollars this past year), which makes me wonder how the retirement of the Baby Boomers is going to go, and whether all pensions can deal with this huge out flux of cash from their reserves?

Save up to 50% on life insurance.

Reflections So Far

My real view of my lay off last year is that I have been very lucky, and I was lucky to have worked at Nortel/BNR for the time I did. The experience I picked up continues to get me job interviews, and I worked with many wonderful and amazing people, so even at times when I seem to be a “bitter former employee”, I am not, I am grateful for the experience and hope to soon find a new place to ply my trade.

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Nortel Delisted

An article from 2009, I had just found my new job (hadn’t started it yet) but still held some ill will to the folks who laid me off.

No Nortel on TSX

Nortel delisted in June 2009, and thus another sorry Canadian story ends with a whimper and not a bang. Nortel the company will not be back, as it was (it may return much like Mitel did, much smaller and weaker) but maybe that is a good thing. Hopefully the remaining employees will mostly keep their jobs, but for those who have had their pensions torn apart, their severance lost and their savings decimated, not much else can be said either.

Canada is Growing 33,592,686 Strong!

Stats Canada says that in the first quarter of 2009.

Canada’s population increased by 0.26% in the first quarter of 2009, the fastest first-quarter growth rate since 2001.

Cool! Ontario’s population is over 13,000,000 , which is also interested, but I am interested to see where these people moved into, large urban centers would be my guess.


Random Thoughts: Summer is in the Air

With Summer coming very soon (on Sunday in fact), and Father’s Day on the same day this weekend looks to be an eventful one for us all.

Financially the week has seen the Nortel CEO Mike Z. standing in front of a group of Canadian politicians and saying, “It simply wasn’t feasible to pay severance,” , you have to respect his chutzpah, but when he started saying he might not get his sweetheart pension, I think he lost all credibility. With the CPI at 0.1% we are in interesting areas where allegedly our prices are not rising, yet the price of food is up 7.1% over 12 months, so the numbers are actually hiding a big issue (i.e. the poor and fixed income folks dealing with huge food price increases).  Evidently this means our interest rates may stay as low as they are for a while longer, which is just wild (IMHO).

Financial Blogging Views

Some interesting posts from my regular reads on the Financial blogging front:

  • Techcrunch talks about the new Apple iPhone 3GS which is out today, will this entice more Canadians to sign up with Fido and Rogers (and their ridiculously expensive data plans)? I’m sticking with my iPod touch, thanks.
  • Ellen Roseman has a little Fun and Games with her students at U of T’s continuing ed program, with Ellen Degenerates Share Club, she wins the funniest one liner of the week.
  • Michael James points out that the CRA No Longer Taxing Loyalty Programs, with a few caveats added on. I wonder if my PC Points fit this new rule?
  • The Canadian Capitalist points out that ‘Simply Save’ with TD Bank might be a no-brainer to sign up for, for someone like me who already does his banking with TD.
  • Preet from WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo points out that the Ultimate W Expert Challenge (which he is a part of) starts this weekend on Sunday! Worthwhile just to see and hear what Preet sounds like (since you aren’t likely to see me on the big screen any time soon).
  • Larry MacDonald points out that Ontario Savings Bonds are on Sale (for a few days more), but wonders if it might be better just to go with high yield bank accounts?
  • Riscario muses about The Three Major Obstacles to Growth according to Brian Tracy, which is a very interesting read.

Stay tuned this weekend, there may not be a video interlude, but there might be something even more interesting. Enjoy the start of summer and remember to call your Dad on Father’s Day!


Random Thoughts: $50 Billion is a lot of money

During a week where the federal government disclosed just how enormous the federal budget deficit will be, there were other topics written about by the Financial Blogging world, but this topic alone is a pretty hot topic.

What could that kind of “money printing” cause in the economy? Jon Chevreau points out in the U.S. it could mean Hyperinflation on the Zimbabwean scale (at least in Dr. Doom’s estimation at least).

Random Thoughts: Pensions?

Have a great weekend folks, hopefully the rain will stop, but maybe my grass needs it?



This was written in 2009 when the world was recovering. The Financial Crisis was still raging. I was still unemployed, so keep that in mind.

Larry MacDonald will be publishing a story about TFSA’s and their newfound popularity, and for some odd reason, he is quoting me, so read your Globe and Mail and send me a note when the article gets published. All I told Larry is that given that I have little or no RRSP room left thanks to my pension, the TFSA is the next logical choice for me to use as a savings vehicle. Otherwise, I get to pay the CRA more taxes on any Capital Gains or Interest I might earn on my savings/investments.

I still don’t have a definitive answer of whether you should put your money in an RRSP or a TFSA (if you have the option to choose). Still, I think if you are in a high enough Tax Bracket, it might be good to put money in your RRSP. Still, the TFSA is after-tax money and thus a valuable vehicle to use for saving for the near future (where RRSP savings is a LONG term thing in my mind (unless you are as old as me, then it is the more immediate term)).

Nortel News

I will attempt to stay away from my former employer after last week’s articles. A few folks have suggested that old beat down unemployed former employees might not want to come off as twisted and bitter, especially if future employers find these commentaries online. Enough said on that topic.

An excellent place to get all the ideal info on Nortel is All About Nortel, and yesterday’s post about the Private Jet made my stomach turn (whoops, bitter and twisted alert). This blogger seems pretty tightly coupled to the inside scoop on Nortel.


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