BC FORUM News - correspondance from MP Peter Julian
MP Peter Julian corresponds with BC FORUM
Thank you for writing to me. My apologies for the delay in responding. Thank you for your patience in my reply. I hope that you and your family are healthy and staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.·
I share your concerns. I agree, we have too often seen in this country that when companies go bankrupt, it is the workers who lose their pensions and pay the highest price.·I believe that every Canadian should be able to count on a dignified, secure retirement – and I will continue to fight hard to protect pensions that workers have earned. To that end, the federal NDP Caucus have been pressing the Trudeau government to make sure that pensioners are at the front of the line when a company goes bankrupt – making sure unfunded pension liabilities owed to workers, and employees’ severance pay, are the top priority for repayment.
I am saddened that successive Liberal and Conservative governments have taken no real action to change this unacceptable situation. Canadian seniors are valued members in·our communities and deserve to have a proper income, decent care, and peace of mind in their retirement.
I voted in favour of Bill C-253. It would finally put a much-needed change to the standard and culture of how we look at pensions so that workers' investments in a deferred wage come before investors that do so at a risk for a chance to make a profit. C-253·safeguards defined benefit pensions by addressing the unfairness of current bankruptcy laws. I agree that Canadian pensioners need this protection urgently.·
We are committed to pressing the government to strengthen public pensions and improving retirement security for all Canadians. We believe that the federal government should create a Pension Advisory Commission to develop a long-term plan to protect and enhance Old Age Security, boost the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and strengthen the Canada Pension Plan. Canada should also make automatic enrollment in OAS and GIS retroactive, so no retiree misses out on benefits that they should be receiving, and support efforts to make sure Canadians have good retirement financial literacy.
The federal NDP Caucus had also voted in favor of the BQ motion which is a measure that the NDP supports and has been championing for a long time: ·That the House: (a) recognize that the elderly were most directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; (b) recall that too many of the elderly live in a financially precarious position; (c) acknowledge the collective debt that we owe to those who built Quebec and Canada; and (d) ask the government, in the next budget, to increase the Old Age Security benefit by $110 a month for those aged 65 and more.
New Democrats have promoted a national seniors strategy to ensure that measures and programs are in place to meet the needs of our retired and elderly. It is a matter of justice, especially in a society as rich as ours in Quebec and Canada. It is the least we can do, but it is not the only thing. There is a lot more we can do to improve the lot of our seniors.
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed painful failings in our country’s senior care. I have also heard from so many about the worries and struggles seniors face in trying to·make ends meet.·From the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic I knew it was necessary to get·much-needed·help for seniors and all·Canadians dealing with a national crisis unlike any other.·
To get direct help for seniors, New Democrats called for·immediate increases to OAS and GIS. Regrettably, the Trudeau government·instead chose to give seniors a·meagre one-time·payment. This is not good enough!·That’s why we’ll·keep pushing the·Liberals·to do better— to·make sure seniors receive the support·they need·in these stressful times.
What’s more, we continue to work on these priorities for seniors:·
- expanding universal health care to include pharmacare and dental care
- ensuring retirees and their pensions are protected if a company goes bankrupt
- making the Canada Caregiver Tax Credit refundable
- ending elder abuse and neglect
- tackling seniors’ isolation
Just as we have done every day of this pandemic, we’re fighting to make life better for all Canadians. We continue to work to stop companies from paying out dividends and bonuses when pensions are under-funded. It’s about time that this government stood up for Canadian workers and their families, instead of shielding their well-connected friends.
Back in December, my colleague·MP Scott Duvall presented a package of bills on behalf of the federal NDP Caucus·to protect and improve the lives of working Canadians and to protect their pensions and benefits already earned by workers and retirees. These bills will help build a Canadian economy that lifts everyone up, not just the wealthy and well-connected.
Workers fulfilled their obligation regarding their pension and benefits and employers must do the same. This is about fairness for workers.
The bills will protect workers in the event of a strike or a lockout and protect the pensions and benefits of workers caught up in corporate bankruptcy proceedings.·Both bills offer workers the protections that the Trudeau government has been promising for years but has failed to deliver.·
· Bill C-258·would enhance protections for employees governed by the Canada Labour Code in the event of a strike or lockout, guaranteeing their right to collective bargaining. This Bill is an opportunity for the Trudeau government to implement the same kind of provisions that already exist in provinces like Quebec and British Columbia and show some leadership at the federal level.
· Bill C-259, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 (pension plans and group insurance programs)
Under current legislation, large corporations are using Canada’s inadequate bankruptcy laws to take money meant for workers’ pensions and divert it to pay off their secured creditors, like banks. C-259 would fix Canadian legislation in order to protect workers’ pensions and benefits, and force companies to provide termination and severance pay, before secured creditors get paid.·This new bill includes provisions to help prevent companies with deficits in their pension plans from handing out dividends or share buy backs to their shareholders. The Trudeau government recently made changes they said would provide corporate transparency, but like many things the Liberals do unfortunately, they were cosmetic at best. The NDP’s Bill C-259 would strengthen the law and help prevent the kind of asset stripping we all witnessed with the Sears bankruptcy.·
There is still so much·work still to do to make sure that nobody is left behind by this emergency. We will keep pushing the federal government to act on our demands. Seniors and elders helped build this country & as they age, they deserve to live in comfort, dignity & safety. It’s time the government increases funding & works to develop national standards for long-term care.·We need to build a new normal where our seniors receive the quality care they deserve. Canadian seniors deserve no less.·
Pensions are deferred wages and they belong to workers, plain and simple. The federal NDP will continue to fight for a Canada that works for everyone, and will make sure corporations and multinationals can’t steal the pensions and benefits their workers and retirees have earned.· Thank you again for taking the time to write to me about this important issue.·
Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with my office if you have any other concerns.·My team remains available by email or telephone : 604-775-5707·firstname.lastname@example.org·I would like to share with you this·resource guide· that may help you access useful information and services at this time. The Constituency Office hours for walk-ins and appointment are Tuesdays to Fridays from 10AM to 4PM.·
Stay healthy and safe in these challenging times,
Peter Julian,·Member of Parliament
NDP House Leader
NDP Spokesperson on Finance