moved for leave to introduce Bill C-476, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and other Acts (unfunded pension plan liabilities).
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to table my latest bill in an ongoing effort to protect the pension plans of hard-working Canadians. The official name of my bill is an Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and other acts. In 1927, it was J.S. Woodsworth, the leader of the CCF, who introduced Canada's first pension legislation, the old age security pension, as a way to address seniors' poverty. It was adopted by the minority Liberal government of the day. In the mid-1960s, again it was the NDP member, Stanley Knowles, who forced the minority Liberal government of Lester Pearson to adopt CPP, again to further address seniors' poverty.
Clearly it has been and remains the NDP that has shown the way on pension reform in Canada, and we continue that work with the tabling of this significant bill. I refer to my bill as the Nortel bill, because it would address in a real way the very serious situation these workers find themselves in as Nortel goes through the CCAA process. The Nortel bill amends the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, among others, to ensure companies make good on their unfunded pension liabilities. The Nortel bill classifies these unfunded pension liabilities as preferred creditors and places them on the same tier as other secure debt to bondholders, investors and other such creditors. It is designed to prevent speculators from buying up assets on the cheap while leaving pension funds gutted and workers without the benefits they have earned.
In addition, the Nortel bill, through new procedures, helps former employees of bankrupt corporations to claim moneys owed. The bill also ensures that payouts resulting from bankruptcy will not be deducted from employment insurance benefits. Finally, unlike the situation with current pension protections, there is no cap on the amount of benefits protected. It would not be retroactive, meaning that for Nortel to benefit, a judge would need to order that the liquidation be conducted under the BIA.
Having consulted for many months with seniors' pension experts, I know the bill would give security and peace of mind to millions of Canadians.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)