Commons to pass bill to protect pension plans

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Commons to pass bill to protect pension plans

The adoption of the text will take place during the vote on the third reading in the House of Commons thanks to the opposition parties.< /p>

Bill C-228, which aims to protect workers' pension plans in the event of a company's bankruptcy, is expected to pass Wednesday afternoon during the vote on third reading in the House of Commons thanks to the parties. #x27;opposition and possibly liberals.

“It’s a great day! It's something we've been waiting for 20 years. »

— Marilène Gill, Bloc MP

This big day is for her the culmination of work that began seven years ago. On no less than three occasions – in 2015, 2019 and 2021 – she introduced a bill to defend pension funds.

Since the lottery of private members' bills only smiled on her the first two times in this Parliament, Ms. Gill has worked hand in hand with other MPs, including Conservative Marilyn Gladu – who was lucky in the toss – to advance her ideas through this other similar bill, a choice also made by Daniel Blaikie of the New Democratic Party (NDP).

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Ms. Gladu explained the recipe that should allow her to pass a bill, whether or not the Liberals give their support: get to the heart of the matter. I wanted to have only elements with which all the parties were already in agreement, summed up the sponsor of the bill.

For example, the legislative document does not propose nothing in terms of group insurance protection, to the chagrin of the NDP who wanted them to be maintained and the Bloc Québécois who proposed compensation. Conservatives opposed it, not least because it's hard to calculate its value, Gladu said.

The exercise is like a negotiation where everyone had to make compromises, illustrated Ms. Gill. The best is the enemy of the good. We prefer to have a gain than nothing at all. […] To see a bill that has the chance of being passed is enormous.

New Democrat Daniel Blaikie, however, faulted the Liberals for blocking his amendment to protect severance pay or notice, and although those provisions would likely have garnered a parliamentary majority.

During the study of the bill, the chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance ruled this amendment out of order, considering that it exceeded the scope and the principle of the bill. The NDP challenged the ruling, saying it was too narrow an interpretation, and forced a vote that overturned the ruling and passed the provisions. Far from admitting defeat, the Liberals appealed last week to the Speaker of the House of Commons. Anthony Rota reversed the committee's decision and reversed the amendment.

Mr. Blaikie also accused the Liberals of making attempts to sabotage the bill, referring to a series of amendments that were defeated in committee. In particular, they tried, in vain, to convince their colleagues to give retirees a creditor rank lower than that proposed in the bill.

Andy Fillmore, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, said, among other things, that the bill places employers at an intolerable risk of bankruptcy and therefore loss of income. x27;job and that the best way to take care of retirees is with preferential payment and not superpriority.

In the end, the Liberal members of the committee nevertheless voted like their opposition colleagues to pass the bill as amended.

But then how will the Liberals vote during the final vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday? Mystery and gumdrop. House leader Mark Holland's office redirected The Canadian Press to that of whip Steven MacKinnon, who did not respond.

Questioned late Tuesday afternoon on the sidelines, Mr. Holland's parliamentary secretary, Kevin Lamoureux, had just learned that Bill C-228 would be voted on the next day. He hinted it would be a free vote – which, among the Liberals, historically only applies to backbench MPs, with the cabinet still voting the same way.

Mr. Lamoureux also said he would consult with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, before deciding how he would vote. The minister's office, however, said he is in Japan, excused the vote, and did not reveal what he would recommend to Mr. Lamoureux.

Wednesday's vote was rushed as a result of a sleight of hand, courtesy of the Bloc. They offered that the Conservatives take one of their turns so that the last hour of debate on Bill C-228 could be held more quickly and that it be passed before the holidays.

The adoption of this bill will be very good news for retirees, says FADOQ, an organization also known as the Fédération de l'age d'or du Québec.

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“Since 2005 there have been three private bills, two government bills on this subject, and then there is no x27;none of them have been adopted. »

— Philippe Poirier-Monette, FADOQ spokesperson

Retirees are currently, roughly speaking, the last to dip into the bowl to have payments that would fill the deficits of their pension fund, he said. Once the bill is passed, they will no longer see just about everyone come before them, since they will be among the priority creditors.

Mr. Poirier-Monette maintained that the retirees of Sears, Nortel Networks, the Cliffs mining company on the North Shore and the MABE plant which was owned by General Electric would, for example, have been better protected if this bill was in force during these major bankruptcies.

From now on, the courts could no longer accept restructuring agreements if it did not include payments of sums to the funds which are in deficit, which recently forced retirees from Groupe Capitales Médias newspapers to initially suffer a loss of 30% of their pension, he noted.

The bill is indeed a compromise. The FADOQ also believes that pension funds should be a guaranteed claim, like everything promised to retirees.

Mr. Poirier-Monette, however, seemed to be walking on eggshells when commenting on the progress of the work. One would have expected the Liberals to be more inclined to pass the bill quickly, not try to put in exceptions, to somehow put a spoke in the wheel of workers and retirees, he blurted out, noting incidentally that they have given a voice to the financial sector.

Once the motion for third reading is adopted, the bill is sent to the Senate. The Upper House can also propose amendments to the bill. If the Bill passes without amendments, then it receives Royal Assent and becomes law, but otherwise both Houses of Parliament will have to agree on the same version of the legislative document.

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