moved for leave to introduce Bill C-331, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (pension plans).
Mr. Speaker, in Canada today when a company goes out of business and the employees' pension plan is wound up, under Canada's outdated bankruptcy laws, pensioners must wait behind every imaginable financial and corporate interest before getting paid out from the company's remaining assets because, according to Canadian law, pensions are considered unsecured debt. As such, pensions are paid out at the same time as every other kind of unsecured debt. In effect, it puts pensioners at the end of the line.
The practical consequence of being at the back of the line means that pensions are too often tapped into as just another asset pool to be used to pay off other creditors. Canadians say that is wrong. They say that any retiree who has worked for generations for a company should have greater access to the company assets than vulture capitalists and bond dealers.
New Democrats believe it is time for the situation to be corrected. Let us be clear. Pensions are not just some kind of a fringe benefit. Workplace pensions are nothing less than unpaid deferred wages. That is why I am introducing my pension protection bill today.
Once enacted, the bill would move pensions further up the line of creditors to be paid out during bankruptcy proceedings. Amending Canada's bankruptcy laws to provide greater protection for pensioners is an issue of considerable importance to the NDP.
In the last election, this particular promise was on the front page of our platform. For New Democrats this question is very straightforward. How many more victims will there be before we fix our outdated bankruptcy laws? We know the stories of Nortel, Fraser Paper and AbitibiBowater and the dozens of mills that closed in Quebec and in British Columbia.
One thing is sure, and that is the current government has not been prepared to act, has not been prepared to extend the pensions, the common sense protection Canadians deserve. New Democrats are ready, and thus we are introducing this bill today.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)