NDP tables bill to protect employees’ pensions, retiree benefits

The New Democratic Party tabled a private member’s bill Monday to amend Canada’s insolvency laws so they protect pension plans and post-retirement benefits when a company is in financial trouble.

The bill, tabled by the party’s pensions critic Scott Duvall, follows the NDP’s End Pension Theft campaign, which was launched in September. The campaign is aimed at fixing federal bankruptcy laws so employees’ pensions and health benefits are given the same consideration as secured creditors in the event of an insolvency. 

Read: NDP launches End Pension Theft campaign, proposed changes to bankruptcy laws

“Canada’s current bankruptcy laws do not protect workers’ pensions and benefits. Pensions earned by workers are deferred wages, plain and simple. Diverting, withholding or seizing those funds should be illegal,” said Duvall in a press release.

“That’s why we’re calling on the Liberal government to fix bankruptcy laws to stop large corporations from putting shareholders, banks and creditors ahead of their employees when they file for bankruptcy protection. . . .”

CARP, formerly the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, has also been involved in the debate, holding discussions at the end of October on the issue with members of Parliament, senators and other government staff. 

Marissa Semkiw, CARP’s director of policy and government relations, told Benefits Canada the organization is extremely pleased to see the bill tabled by the NDP. “We hope that all parties will have the courage to work together to find commonality on legislative changes that would ensure pensioners are protected,” she said. “Now is the time for the government to show leadership on this issue. Pensioners who lose their earned retirement savings end up relying on public benefits, which costs the taxpayer.” 

Also in October, Bloc Québécois MP Marilène Gill introduced a private member’s bill that’s stated purpose is to “ensure that claims in respect of unfunded liabilities or solvency deficiencies of pension plans and claims relating to the cessation of an employer’s participation in group insurance plans are paid in priority in the event of bankruptcy proceedings.”

Read: Liberals show some openness to reform amid calls to protect pensions in insolvencies