Scott Duvall, MP for Hamilton Mountain in Ontario, speaks in Parksville at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre on Wednesday, Feb. 21 about the danger to pensions with Canada’s current laws. Duvall has introduced a private member’s bill that aims to ensure pension payments are not ignored during corporate bankruptcy proceedings. — Adam Kveton Photo

Courtenay-Alberni MP hosts pension protection town hall in Parksville

Gord Johns brings fellow NDP MP Scott Duvall to push for support of bill

A tour by NDP MP Scott Duvall to drum up support for his bill on pension protection landed in Parksville on Wednesday, Feb. 21, where Duvall outlined the issues he sees with the current system, and how his bill seeks to fix some of them.

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns (the NDP’s new veteran’s affairs critic) hosted the town hall alongside Duvall, the NDP’s pensions critic, at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre.

Duvall, the MP for Hamilton Mountain in Ontario, outlined the current legal pitfalls for pensioners when it comes to companies that declare bankruptcy (using recent examples of the Stelco steel company in Hamilton and Sears), and pointed out instances where, he said, the Liberal government weakened pension rules for workers before the NDP successfully pressured for fixes to legislation.

While the Trudeau government campaigned on improving retirement security, Duvall said, “It seems to be the opposite of what they are doing,” despite what he called some “good moves” by the Liberals.

Duvall said he hopes to deal with a problem that plagues groups such as Sears pensioners who, for example, are facing reduced pension incomes. This, despite hundreds of millions in dividends paid to shareholders and millions in bonuses to executives while the company wasn’t making money and pension payments were in deficit, according to news reports on the downfall of the North American department store giant in Canada.

“It happens because it can happen,” Duvall said of the millions paid to shareholders while pensions went underfunded. “The law allows it to happen.”

Those laws are the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, which allow for companies to restructure and withhold or reduce payments into pension plans, and which prioritize creditors and shareholders over pensioners.

Duvall’s private member’s bill, C-384, introduced on Nov. 6, 2017, “amends the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to ensure that claims in respect of unfunded liabilities or solvency deficiencies of a pension plan are accorded priority in the event of bankruptcy proceedings,” according to the bill summary.

In other words, pension payments would be moved to the front of the line.

“I need your help,” Duvall told the crowd of approximately 40 people at the PCCC.

He asked that people consider adding their name in support of the NDP’s plan (www.ndp.ca/pensions), that they write letters to newspapers, and that they send letters and emails to their MP, Trudeau and the finance minister, and include Duvall in the email.

The effort to move pensioners closer to the front of the line in bankruptcy cases is not new. A bill from NDP MP Wayne Marston, introduced in 2011, sought to put unfunded pension liabilities on the same tier as other secure debt bondholders, investors and others.

One concern voiced about these proposals is whether banks and investors would feel secure in investing in Canadian companies if they are not at the front of the line for being reimbursed should the company go into bankruptcy proceedings.

Johns called that “propaganda coming out of Bay Street.”

“A company shouldn’t be using workers’ pensions to negotiate more capital to finance a business,” said Johns, adding that, if having to fully fund pensions would deter investors, why does paying CEOs and executives bonuses not do the same?

“It’s talking points from CEOs and executives that constantly are putting workers last and themselves first.”

Send story tips to: adam.kveton@pqbnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

COVID-19: Classical concerts series season cancelled for 2020-21

Group says scholarship program will continue

PQBeat: Ed Mayne talks COVID-19, potential pool for Parksville

Mayor returns to ‘PQB News’ studios to detail summer plans

Three graduating SD69 students earn prestigious foundation awards

Recipents plan to continue their impactful work in the service of others

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim against Island Corridor Foundation

Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation was seeking return of reserve land as railway sits unused

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

Nanaimo RCMP ask for help finding missing 19-year-old

Haley Murphy has not been seen since Tuesday, June 30, say police

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Most Read