Federal bill to protect pension plans passed unanimously

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Federal Bill to Protect Pension Plans Adopted Unanimously

The adoption of the text took place during the vote on the third reading in the House of Commons, thanks to the opposition parties.

Bill C-228, which aims to protect workers' pension plans in the event of a company's bankruptcy, passed unanimously on Wednesday during the third reading vote in the House of Commons, thanks to an alliance between the opposition parties, to which was added in extremis the support of the liberals.

According to the results announced in the House, 318 deputies voted in favor and none were against.

“C&#x27 ;is 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.

No less than three times – in 2015, in 2019 and in 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 when the coin tossed – to advance her ideas through this other similar bill, a choice also made by Daniel Blaikie of the New Democratic Party (NDP).< /p>

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Ms. Gladu explained the recipe that allowed the passage of her bill with or without the support of the Liberals: go to the essentials. I wanted to have only elements with which all the parties already agreed, summed up the sponsor of the bill.

For example, the document legislation does not propose anything 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 to pass is huge.

New Democrat Daniel Blaikie, however, criticized the Liberals for blocking his amendment to protect severance or severance pay, even though those provisions would likely have garnered a parliamentary majority.

During consideration of the bill, the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance ruled this amendment out of order, considering that it exceeded the scope and principle of the bill. The NDP challenged the decision, saying it was too narrow an interpretation, and forced a vote that reversed the decision 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, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, said, among other things, that the bill puts employers at an intolerable risk of bankruptcy and therefore loss of business. #x27;employment 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.

How the Liberals were going to vote during the vote Wednesday's final in the House of Commons was only revealed minutes before it was to be held, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answered a question from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

We will support Bill C-228, but we will take no lessons from a Conservative Party that has waged war on working people for a decade and has nothing to offer Canadians, Canadians. ;except bitcoins and buzzwords, he said.

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

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

“Since 2005, there have been three private bills, two government bills on this, and then none. between them was adopted. »

— Philippe Poirier-Monette, FADOQ spokesperson

Retirees are now roughly the last to dip into the bowl for payouts that would make up for their pension fund shortfalls, 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 argued that retirees from 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 had been in effect during these major bankruptcies.

From now on, the courts could no longer accept restructuring agreements if this did not include payments of sums to the pension funds that are in deficit, which recently forced retirees of 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 to try to put exceptions, to somehow put a spoke in the wheels of workers and retirees, he said. , noting in passing that they have given a voice to the financial sector.

Now that the motion for third reading has been adopted, the bill is sent to the Senate. The Upper House can also propose amendments to it. If passed 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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