An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (pension plans and group insurance plans)

An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (pension plans and group insurance plans)

This bill was last introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2021.

Sponsor

Marilène Gill  Bloc

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Report stage (House), as of June 21, 2021
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment 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 pension plans and claims relating to the cessation of an employer’s participation in group insurance plans are paid in priority in the event of bankruptcy proceedings.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

May 12, 2021 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-253, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (pension plans and group insurance plans)

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActPrivate Members' Business

June 15th, 2022 / 6 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Shelby Kramp-Neuman Conservative Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very happy to rise today to speak to this very important piece of legislation tabled by my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton.

Pension protection has been at the forefront of our legislature for what seems like years. Every Parliament has had various attempts to protect worker pensions from insolvency. They are tabled and it seems that every Parliament has this issue which we all agree is important, but it dies on the Order Paper.

Hopefully, Bill C-228, an act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985, will finally see our legislature take concrete action to protect Canadian workers and their hard-earned pensions.

Bill C-228 amends the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act to ensure that claims in respect of unfunded liabilities or its solvency deficiencies of a pension plan are accorded priority in the event of bankruptcy proceedings. It also provides that an employer has to maintain group insurance plans and provide benefits to, or in respect of, its employees or former employees.

This area has particular importance to me given my previous career as a financial adviser and current career as the official opposition's shadow minister for seniors. Workers spend their entire lives building something for them to enjoy during their golden years. Bill C-228 is a big step forward in securing those years for future generations.

This legislation builds off two previous pieces of legislation that were before the House: Bill C-405 in the 42nd Parliament and Bill C-253 in the 43rd Parliament.

Bill C-405, which was tabled by my hon. colleague from Durham, was unfortunately defeated at second reading. The logic from the government according to the now Minister of Justice, was that the “proposed changes reduce the flexibility of courts based on particular situations and facts. These current flexibilities help to achieve the best outcome for the company and the pensioners and they might conflict with important policy objectives.” The NDP felt that the legislation did not accurately protect pensions.

The following Parliament saw a little more progress on the file. The member for Manicouagan managed to garner enough support to send her attempt to committee despite opposition from the Liberals, who claimed:

[T]he employee group benefit claims would be weakened and that could ultimately weaken companies in their ability to restructure and affect that sense of competitiveness of firms with respect to defined benefit pension plans as well as group insurance benefit plans, which would not necessarily help pensioners and workers in all cases. It has the potential to threaten the existence of defined pension plans.

While the bill may not have been perfect, we on this side of the House were willing to put the financial security of Canadians ahead of any partisan differences and we pledged to send the bill to committee so that it could be improved. Over seven meetings and after consultations with dozens of witnesses and expert testimony, the bill was returned to Parliament amended and improved.

I bring up Bill C-253 because this legislation that we are speaking about here today is very much a spiritual successor to that earlier piece of legislation. The two pieces of legislation share a very large amount of the same text. What Bill C-228 does is build on the very good work that was done on the file in the last parliamentary sitting by amending the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985, to empower the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to determine that the funding of a pension plan is impaired or that the pension plan administrator is at risk and to set out measures to be taken by the employer in respect of the funding of the plan in such cases.

Michael Powell, president of the Canadian Federation of Pensioners, said:

We support Bill C-253 and the extension of superpriority to pension deficits. This is the simplest solution to meaningfully improve pension protection for Canadian seniors.

In our Canadian regulatory environment, the only single place to protect pensions is within insolvency regulations. This committee and Parliament face a decision between the status quo—which leaves seniors' future financial well-being at risk and perpetuates an unfair system designed to exclude seniors from protecting their own financial interests, an unfair system that has been proven to significantly harm older Canadians—and a new future that offers protection to vulnerable seniors.

Mr. Hassan Yussuff, former president of the Canadian Labour Congress, was also supportive, saying, “The CLC, of course, supports Bill C-253, and I want to thank the members who voted to advance this bill.”

Unfortunately, an election call meant the death knell for Bill C-253. While the bill itself is dead, the spirit of co-operation among all parties that followed Bill C-253 need not be.

During debate on Bill C-253, the legislation's previous iteration of Bill C-228, the former member for Hamilton Mountain called for support of the legislation, even though he had a similar piece of legislation tabled before the House, Bill C-259. Unless I missed my mark, that legislation has been reintroduced in this Parliament by the member for Elmwood—Transcona as Bill C-225. The former member for Hamilton Mountain said, “I feel strongly about the necessity of these protections put forward, so much that my bill, Bill C-259, contains equivalent measures to every article contained in this bill. I would like to let her and the House know that I am calling on all my NDP colleagues to support the bill at second reading and I hope to see it get to committee.”

I hope my honourable friend and his party will continue down the path of co-operation and multipartisanship that his predecessor did.

I mentioned earlier how I had a previous life as a financial adviser. I saw first-hand the complete destruction of livelihoods that tore through Hastings—Lennox and Addington when Nortel and Sears went belly up. The financial security of nearly 37,000 Canadians went up in smoke overnight.

These were terrible lessons that affected every single one of our ridings and lessons that we cannot continue to ignore. We, as a legislature, need to work toward protecting Canadian pensioners. We have before us a piece of legislation that has previously received support from the majority of parties in this House. It is a piece of legislation that, in fact, has been tabled by two separate parties. How often can we say that? It is a piece of legislation that has already gone through the scrutiny of a parliamentary committee and debate.

I would suggest to my colleagues in the House that we do the right thing, pass Bill C-228 into law and avoid the fate of so many other attempts to protect Canadian pensioners.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActPrivate Members' Business

April 1st, 2022 / 2:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-228, a bill brought forward by my good friend and colleague, the MP for Sarnia—Lambton.

The intent of this excellently drafted bill is to offer concrete pension protection for Canadian seniors, something that is seriously lacking in Canada’s existing laws. In the context of rising inflation, the alarming increase in our national debt and climbing daily costs, this bill is never more needed than now. As the cost of living keeps going up, seniors will be left without enough to live on if their pensions are subject to insolvency.

A pension is the portion of a worker’s wages that companies put aside for the worker’s retirement. This is not only money that employees have earned; it is understood to be their reward for their years of hard work. It is heartbreaking to hear countless stories of employees who have had their pensions drastically cut and their plans for retirement dashed. One local example of the devastation that results in the absence of adequate pension protection is the former General Chemical plant, a company that was located in the town of Amherstburg in my riding. On the brink of bankruptcy, it pulled up stakes, leaving only hardship in its wake.

In an article in the Windsor Star in 2010, recently updated in 2020, we learned of Fran McLean and how she was impacted. Fran worked for 47 years at the Amherstburg plant. A significant portion of the money Fran had worked hard to set aside for her retirement during those 47 years was lost. She had worked all those years at the same company, sacrificing her time and energy and the better part of her life, only to have the bulk of her pension income taken from her.

Fran’s pension income fell from $2,500 to $1,900, and then came a final cut to $1,000 a month. Imagine the impact of an income cut of $1,500 during retirement years. What does this kind of situation do to a person's mental health? What does it do to their family? What does it say about our nation and the value we put on the seniors who have built our communities?

One of the greatest days of my life was when my grandson, Levi, came into this world. He is a joy to be with. One thing I especially look forward to as he grows up is to be able to buy him hockey gear and take him out for fun activities together with his grammy, my beautiful wife Allison, when we retire, but for those who have lost a major part of their pension, this can be a huge challenge. Now, on top of all that, inflation is making it difficult to even pay for necessities, never mind the things that bring us joy.

Those who have worked hard to contribute to their pensions in the first place now live in fear that without the proper laws in place to protect those pensions, all can be lost. Workers are not even considered priority creditors, and sometimes, as was the case at General Chemical, they are not at the table at all. That is just not right.

I want Canada to lead the way in rewarding hard-working seniors in what are supposed to be their golden years. I just do not see that with the current laws regarding pensions. All Canadians should have a secure and dignified retirement, along with peace of mind when it comes to the contributions they have made to their retirement pensions.

As General Chemical and Sears have shown, the security of a pension can be lost in a moment. We must and can do better for our seniors.

Cody Cooper lives in my riding. He is president of the Chrysler Canada retirees organization. Mr. Cooper puts it like this: “We need to stop using pensions as piggy banks to solve liquidity problems. It doesn’t cost taxpayers anything to ensure people get the pensions they worked their whole lives for.”

That is exactly right. We are not asking the government to pay money to anyone it does not belong to. To be clear, prioritizing workers during bankruptcy does not cost the taxpayer anything. If a company signs a contract with an employee, that agreement should be kept to the end of their employment, and in the case of a pension, to the end of the person’s life. A company should not be able to back out when it comes time to pay.

Bill C-228 brings together past bills of a similar nature and would add some new and significant changes to the existing legislation. The current legislation makes it optional for companies to act on insolvency. Meanwhile, courts can step in, but only voluntarily. This must change.

Bill C-228 answers the problem of pension insolvency in three main areas. First, it would require that an annual report on the solvency of pension funds be tabled here in the House of Commons for greater transparency and oversight. This is exactly the kind of issue that needs more transparency and oversight from the government. Second, it would provide a mechanism to transfer funds into a pension fund to restore it to solvency, to ensure the insolvent portion until the fund can be restored. These first two points will make sure there is scrutiny to ensure that pension funds are solvent, that they remain solvent or that they are fixed if they are starting to slip. Third, in the case of bankruptcy, pensions would be paid out ahead of large creditors and especially executive bonuses. With respect to the latter, companies have been giving out bonuses or paying off their debt to creditors before they pay their employees' pensions. This is a classic example of the rich getting richer.

My good friend and colleague, the MP for Sarnia—Lambton, has shared in her op-ed in The Sarnia Observer that one of her neighbours was let go amid Sears's bankruptcy. At the end of the day, she was only paid 70¢ on the dollar, yet “All the executives got big bonuses”, she said, and “That is just not right.”

In the case of the Sears bankruptcy, former employees had the pain of losing their jobs at Sears and a portion of their pensions from the $270-million deficit in the pension plan. Bill McKinnon from Windsor, who started at Sears in 1975, said, “For us pensioners that were counting on that, we’ve lost our medical, we’ve lost our life insurance, we’ve lost our dental, we’ve lost our prescriptions, and by the looks of it, we’re going to lose over 20 per cent of our pension.”

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons, CARP, did a survey of its members who had pensions, and almost 40% said they were afraid they were going to outlive their money. This is the reality of the current legislation. Seniors have no control of their own money and no control over their finances for their retirement years.

Laura Tamblyn Watts is the chief executive of CanAge, a non-partisan national advocacy group for seniors, and a lawyer and seniors advocate. She said that “everyday Canadians” may not understand the technical terms in the law, but they understand the Sears Canada story. She notes, “For instance, if you tell somebody that the pensioners at Sears in the U.S. didn't lose any money or any benefits—but they lost 20 per cent (of their pension payments) in Canada and really all of their benefits—people are shocked to understand that the U.S. has better protection.”

Bill C-228 has taken into consideration the content of several previous bills, such as Bill C-405 from the Conservative MP for Durham, Bill C-253 from the Bloc member for Manicouagan and a bill from the NDP member for Elmwood—Transcona, who reintroduced the bill by former MP Scott Duvall. That was Bill C-259 in 2020 and is now Bill C-225. In drafting this bill, my hon. colleague has studied and researched the current laws, and has included the many organizations, experts and individuals needed to make this bill a success.

My colleague, the MP for Sarnia—Lambton, is open to amendments to this bill as debate and research continue at committee. Anything proposed that would improve pension protection for our seniors would be on the table for review. That is why I am more than happy to support this excellent bill. I commend my colleague for bringing this issue before the House. Furthermore, in my new role as shadow minister for labour, I am thrilled that this long overdue legislation has been presented to the House. Let us act now before we have another General Chemical or Sears. It is always a good time to do the right thing.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActPrivate Members' Business

April 1st, 2022 / 2 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C‑228, which was introduced by my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton. I want to officially thank her. I may also have done so during my comments. I have thanked her personally but wanted to do so in the House. This is the kind of collaboration that allows us as parliamentarians to go even further, and this was confirmed in all of the questions and comments we have heard.

I do not think anyone in the House will be surprised to hear that I took a serious look at this bill. Again, there is absolutely no partisanship here. As my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton pointed out, I have introduced two bills on similar topics: Bill C‑372 in 2017, the same day that Sears declared bankruptcy, and Bill C‑253, during the previous Parliament, which has become Bill C‑264. It is an endorsement of everything going on in the House, because there is really a movement to get this bill passed.

Before I get to the matter at hand, I want to thank the people who worked on this bill, and I am sure my colleague will agree with me on this. This bill really affects everyone, Quebeckers and Canadians, in all types of businesses. We heard about Sears, but in my region this happened with a multinational mining company called Cliffs Natural Resources. I say “my region”, but there were also other areas affected.

Many people worked on this bill. Individuals, workers and retiree organizations all testified. My colleague mentioned some who have been supporting this bill since 2017. This bill is supported by approximately four million people across Canada, Quebec included, as well as by associations representing retirees and seniors. When we think about it, four million people out of approximately 40 million is a large proportion of the population that is asking the House of Commons to take action to protect pension funds.

I would particularly like to thank Gordon St‑Gelais, Kathleen Bound, Mario Levac, Nicolas Lapierre, Dominique Lemieux, Sandra Lévesque, Manon, Claire, Pierre, Ghislain, Anthony and Serge. There are so many others. I do not have time to name them all, but they are the ones who breathed life into this bill.

I repeat, my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton's bill really affects everyone. That is clear because, in my case, the very idea for the bill came from Cliffs Natural Resources retirees. That is real proof. Sometimes there is cynicism in politics, but this bill takes some of that away, because the bill really comes from the people. It shows that institutions can work properly when the will is there. I wanted to point that out to show that an MP is nothing without their constituents. If we want to represent them properly, then we need to listen to them.

Let me get right into it. Bill C‑228 should have no trouble getting to committee and then to the Senate. It should not even have any trouble getting through the upcoming vote. It has already gone through significant study in committee. For example, it was very important to me that there be protection for insurance. That was removed from Bill C‑228, but other mechanisms were added, and we will have to take a close look at them because there are still a lot of unknowns despite all the studies. Even so, I think everyone who supported Bill C‑253 will support Bill C‑228. I say everyone because all four parties were on the committee, so I do not see how anyone could be against this bill.

Why not fast-track it?

We could move it all the way through to royal assent pretty quickly. A number of senators were interested in my bill, so they will also be interested in the bill introduced by my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton. I really think things will move along very quickly.

I have 10 pages of notes and I am only on the second one, but if I can at the very least convey my enthusiasm and my hope that everyone votes in favour of this bill, I will consider that a success.

I could get into the more technical aspects of the bill because people are always interested in the scope of a bill. The spirit of my colleague's bill is the same.

What we are really trying to do is save the retirement nest eggs of workers who have accumulated a salary for years, what we call deferred wages. I always feel compelled to remind people of this, because I sometimes hear surprising questions in the House. I think I even heard some answers today with references to CPP, which has absolutely nothing to do with this bill.

What we are talking about here is really a pension fund. Workers pay into a pension fund and agree to give up part of their salary for a certain period of time. Instead of receiving $25 an hour, for example, they will receive $22 an hour. The union and the employer negotiate this so they can build up a pension fund for the employees' retirement. In other words, this is something they have already paid for, but when a company files for protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act or the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, they could lose it.

For example, back home in my riding, the Cliffs pensioners lost roughly 25% of their pension fund. I should mention that pension funds are not indexed. If a retiree had $1,000 in 1995, it no longer had the same value in 2005 or in 2015, and that value will be different in 2025 too. This is already a loss for those people, and it can become enormous in some situations.

Insurance is also very important to me because when these people lose their insurance, they are often older. At 65, 70, 75 or 80 years old, it is harder to get insured. They often need more care and drugs—such is life—but they cannot get the same care they used to get. By the way, this may be the part of the bill I agree with the least, because this issue is very important to me. I have talked to people who have experienced hardship, like people with cancer who cannot afford decent care because companies went bankrupt.

We are not talking about small businesses, but multinationals. These are companies with significant revenues that should have managed their pension fund better in order to hang on to it.

I have spoken with people who lived through these tragedies. I think of them every time we talk about these bills in the House and study them in committee. This is very much a human issue, and I think we can do something about it. This bill is not calling for huge changes. It is not calling for all of the money to be returned to retirees and for nothing to be given to the creditors. That is not what this is about. This is a reasonable bill.

As I said, everyone in the House is in agreement, but even in the different sectors, companies agree on the principle of placing retirees higher on the list of priorities, without making them the only priority. I point this out because that exaggeration is one common criticism of this type of bill.

In closing, I would like to express my appreciation for everyone, including my House of Commons colleagues, who is working or wants to work to advance a bill like this one. I want to applaud the strength of people in my riding and other ridings, particularly people from MABE, Sears, Nortel, Cliffs and Eaton, which we talked about earlier. I thank them for their ongoing work because they are the ones supporting what we are trying to get done here and they are the reason we here are so aware of this issue and on the verge of passing a bill. There are just a few steps to go.

I also want to highlight the level of solidarity people have shown. Our parties do not always see eye to eye, but we have found a way to rise above our differences, work together and come to a compromise. Being an MP means making compromises, not compromising who we are, but seeking compromise, and that is something we can do. For me, it is also about respect. We respect one another, just as we respect workers and our constituents. All that makes me very excited about the the idea that we can get this bill passed.

I would once again like to express my support to my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton. I think she is doing amazing work. We will certainly get this legislation passed, whether it is this bill or any other bill along the same lines, such as mine. Why not?

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActPrivate Members' Business

April 1st, 2022 / 1:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Ryan Turnbull Liberal Whitby, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House virtually today to take part in this important debate. Pension protection is an important topic. It is one that my constituents have charged me with advocating for on their behalf. I want to thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for her work on this important issue.

There is no doubt that we need to strengthen pension protection for defined benefit plans to prevent against the loss of retirement income that seniors face when their employers go through insolvency. It is a shame that this problem persists today after the stories we have heard about Sears, Nortel, Eaton's and many others that some Canadians are still suffering losses to their retirement income based on their defined benefit pensions being underfunded when the company files for bankruptcy. We must ensure that the pensions Canadians pay into, and that their employers commit to, remain available to them in full throughout the course of their retirement. Anything less, in my view, is unacceptable.

It is important for me to point out how the income security and the overall well-being of our seniors has been a top priority for our government since day one. Even before the challenges brought on by the global pandemic, our government took significant steps to support Canadian seniors. We focused on improving the quality of life for our seniors by helping support active and healthy lifestyles; improving access to home and community care; reducing loneliness and isolation; increasing access to health care; committing to the redevelopment of the national standards for long-term care with substantial investments to improve the quality of care for our seniors; and, importantly, and the topic I will be focusing on, ensuring the financial security of our seniors. These are all priorities for our government and we have made important strides in all of these areas.

In terms of our agenda, seniors' financial security is something our government has remained steadfast in our commitment to since day one. We permanently increased old age security by 10%, and we restored the age of eligibility to 65 from 67, reversing the Conservative policy of delaying OAS payments for seniors. We increased the guaranteed income supplement by 10%, improving the financial security of more than 900,000 seniors in Canada. In April 2020, more than four million low and middle-income seniors received a GST credit top-up. This was worth, on average, about $375 for individual seniors and $510 for senior couples.

In July 2020, we provided a one-time tax-free payment of $300 to 6.7 million OAS pensioners and a further $200 to 2.2 million seniors eligible for the guaranteed income supplement. To assist with the cost of the pandemic, we provided a one-time payment of $500 in August 2021 to OAS pensioners. I have heard from many of the seniors on fixed incomes in Whitby that this one-time payment made a big difference for them. Why is this relevant? It shows our commitment, but it also highlights the importance of income security for our seniors.

If MPs in this chamber can understand the importance of these one-time payments, imagine then pensioners having lost 20% of their pensions due to their employers going through bankruptcy, leaving their pensions underfunded, and all other creditors being paid out before the pensioners. That could easily amount to $500 per month of pension income loss that seniors would face for the rest of their lives.

I would say that would be life-altering. Can members imagine people counting on that pension income for their pension retirement, making contributions for many years and then getting to the point in their lives where they need to rely on that income to survive, only to find out that they will only be getting a portion of it?

It is important to remember that these are deferred wages and that employers have an obligation to their pensioners. I can only imagine how seniors put in this situation would feel, but after hearing from individuals who have gone through this, I can say that it is devastating for them. Let us not forget that individuals left in a state of income insecurity would be more vulnerable and more likely to access publicly funded social support programs. This could and should be avoided, and we cannot let this persist any longer.

This is an issue I have been engaged in since being elected in 2019, and I have had conversations with my constituents, my caucus colleagues, members of other parties, ministers and stakeholder groups on this important issue.

Most recently I sponsored e-petition 3893, as was mentioned in the House, which calls on parliamentarians to work together with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to establish stronger protections for the members of defined benefit pension plans. I am happy to say that petition already has over 8,000 signatures, so clearly this is an issue many Canadians care about.

With over 1.3 million private defined benefit pension beneficiaries in Canada, I believe all members of the House have likely heard from constituents or someone they know who have been negatively affected by this issue or who are concerned they may get shortchanged if there is no remedy found. I think it is very important that we take the time to consider just how much impact this will have on Canada's seniors. I have heard many stories and I think we need to heed the calls for a solution on this matter.

I believe it is more important than ever that we find ways to work together and address this issue. With the cost of living on the rise and significant repeated shocks to our global economy from the global pandemic, extreme weather due to climate change and now Putin's war on Ukraine, some companies will undoubtedly face financial challenges, and we will need to make sure our seniors and their retirement incomes are protected. Seniors should live their final years in comfort and with the dignity they deserve, especially after a lifetime of hard work.

Given the nature of what we do in the House, there are often disagreements around policies and the direction we take as a country on certain files, but when it comes to protecting pensioners and the pension plans that individuals have paid into and rely on, I do not see how we can let this important issue get caught up in the atrophy of partisanship. In the last session of Parliament I voted in favour of the Bloc Québécois private member's bill, Bill C-253, to provide further protection to defined benefit pension plans here in Canada. I did that in the hope we would find a way to work to resolve this issue for the benefit of our seniors.

I was happy to see that our government also took important steps in the 43rd Parliament to make insolvency proceedings fairer and more transparent, and made changes to federal corporate law to ensure better oversight of corporate behaviour, including making company directors liable for excessive and unreasonable payments made to executives in the lead-up to insolvency.

I am aware that the NDP member for Elmwood—Transcona introduced legislation in February of this year that seeks to protect the pension benefits of workers caught in corporate bankruptcy proceedings, so effectively we have support for pension protection in all four corners of the House. I believe that provides us with the opportunity to come together across party lines and deliver for Canadian pensioners and their families.

I believe there are multiple ways we could approach a solution to this issue. We have seen various proposals and potential solutions, and I think we should try to find a way forward. Personally, I am open-minded and even would describe myself as solution-agnostic as long as pensioners receive 100% of the pension to which their employer committed. Without employees, we should all acknowledge, there are no businesses. Employees are just as important as shareholders and the many other creditors, and they do not deserve to be the last consideration when their company goes through insolvency. Whichever approach the House decides to take, we must know what is at stake. A solution now can help 4.3 million Canadians who will depend on a defined benefit pension for their financial security in retirement.

I am generally supportive of the bill, as members can tell, and I think the proposed changes to the insolvency legislation are a positive advancement by providing near superpriority status. I am supportive of any solution that places pensioners much closer to the front of the line in the long list of creditors that need to get paid during insolvency.

With that said, I firmly believe there are always ways to strengthen and improve a piece of legislation, and I have specific suggestions on that. I think we heard a comment recently about getting informed consent from pensioners when there is a transfer made. I think that is a good suggestion.

Let me just end here. Seniors cannot afford to get less than they deserve and we cannot afford to let them down.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActPrivate Members' Business

April 1st, 2022 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

moved that Bill C-228, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985, be read a second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, today is April Fool's Day, so I could not start this speech without saying that one would have to be a fool not to support my private member's bill.

My private member's bill is centred on pension protection and working to prevent the loss of pensions for employees whose companies have declared bankruptcy. Canadians deserve to know that the contributions they have made over their whole lives will result in a secure financial future for themselves and for their families. However, the last few years have shown us that security can disappear in a moment. We need to do better for Canadians.

My bill would remedy this issue. It would do three things. First, it would require that an annual report on the solvency of pension funds be tabled here in the House of Commons for greater transparency and oversight.

Second, it would provide a mechanism to transfer funds into a pension fund to restore it to solvency or to ensure the insolvent portion until the funds could be restored.

Finally, in the case of bankruptcy, pensions would be paid out ahead of large creditors and executive bonuses.

To put things in context, I want to point out that there have been far too many cases of businesses that have declared bankruptcy to the great detriment of their own employees.

Nortel Networks declared bankruptcy in 2009, leaving 200,000 Canadians to fend for themselves when it came to their pensions. An article published in the Financial Post in 2016 entitled “The big lesson from Nortel Networks: Pension plans aren't a guarantee” gave a detailed account of the battle waged by these employees as they tried to recover even part of their share of Nortel's assets, which were estimated at $7.3 billion. Legal and consulting fees totalled over $1.9 billion, which further reduced the amount these former employees were seeking.

According to CBC, at the end of 2016, former Nortel employees were pleased with the agreement they reached under which they would get a payout of 40¢ on the dollar. That was an improvement over the 10¢ on the dollar they were initially offered.

However, in 2020, the employees lost out again when the Ontario pension benefits guarantee fund managed to reclaim some $200 million from monies allocated to pensioners in Nortel's bankruptcy proceedings.

In all, the whole mess with Nortel turned into a more than 11-year battle for former employees who failed several times while simply trying to obtain the financial security to which they were entitled. That is just one example.

Sears Canada is another infamous case, perhaps one of the most well known. Between 2005 and 2013, Sears Canada paid more than $3 billion in dividends to shareholders, even as it was operating at a loss and its pension plan was underfunded by about $133 million.

In 2017, Sears Canada declared bankruptcy after attempting to restructure. During that restructuring, Sears Canada faced heavy criticism for giving retention bonuses to 43 executives and senior managers, when it did not plan to offer severance to laid-off employees. Allegedly, the bonuses were intended to maintain the morale of senior staff at the cost of providing the necessary funds to the company's pension plan, leaving more than 17,000 pensioners cheated of their full pensions.

Sears pensioners learned that their payments were going to be cut by 30%. Of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, 72-year old Ron Husk told the CBC that the cut caused his monthly pension payment to drop by $450. Many said they would have to go back to work in sales in their seventies. Pensioners in Ontario fared marginally better because of the provincial mechanism that protects the first $1,500 of a pensioner's payments, but it made little difference overall and in today's era of extreme inflation it is helping even less.

Looking back further, when the Eaton company folded in 1999, the vast majority of its 24,500 employees were terminated without being paid termination pay, severance pay and other amounts owed to them. All employee and retiree health and other benefits were cancelled. In the end, the liquidator released payments to employees and retirees of just 53.7¢ on the dollar.

There are several other noted cases in which courts have ruled in the favour of creditors and lenders over pensioners, including Indalex, Stelco and Grant Forest Products, among others. In the Indalex case, Indalex Limited obtained creditor protection under the Companies' Creditor Arrangement Act, known as the CCWA. The court authorized Indalex to obtain debtor in possession, or DIP, financing, which would provide the company with loans to allow it to continue operating its business during the restructuring period. These DIP lenders had superpriority over the existing debt equity and other claims.

At a hearing for the approval of this motion in 2008, two groups of pension claimants opposed the distribution, asserting that assets equal to the funding deficiencies in two defined benefit pension plans administered by Indalex were deemed to be held in trust and should be given to the pension plan in priority over the DIP lender. The CCWA court ruled in favour of the DIP lender, not the pensioners. This decision was upheld and became a precedent for the Grant Forest Products case.

Sadly, many other examples of workers who did not receive their full pensions exist.

There is no doubt that this has been a problem for a long time. The government needs to intervene by taking stringent measures to rectify this and protect Canadian workers. I want to acknowledge the contribution of some of my colleagues in the House. Many MPs from all parties came to see me to present bills on this same topic.

In 2018, my colleague, the member for Durham, introduced Bill C‑405 on pension benefits standards in order to authorize the administrator of an underfunded pension plan, in certain situations, to amend the plan or to transfer or permit the transfer of any part of the assets or liabilities of the pension plan to another pension plan. This bill did not receive enough support, because changing the type of pension or the benefit amount means breaching the contract signed by employees who worked for a company for a certain number of years and thought they would receive a certain pension.

His bill also called for the tabling of an annual report in Parliament respecting the solvency of pension plans, which I thought was a useful and brilliant provision.

Currently, there is a requirement for an annual report on the solvency of a fund, but it goes to the superintendent of finance and what, if any, actions are taken is not clear. In fact, there is evidence, with companies like Air Canada, that pension fund insolvency has been allowed to continue for far too many years. My bill would require this report to be tabled here, for greater transparency and oversight.

In October 2017 and again in 2020, the Bloc member for Manicouagan introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-253, which would have amended the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the CCAA. The bill would have provided priority status for pensions in the event of bankruptcy proceedings. It ultimately made it to committee but died on the Order Paper when the Liberals called the election. I have incorporated her bill here with some suggestions that were brought forward.

There was concern that implementing an immediate priority for pensions could have unintended consequences. The suggestion was to have the coming into force of the reporting on the insolvency of funds to happen immediately, along with the mechanism to top up the fund to restore it to solvency. It was recommended to have several years of time for companies to get their funds in order before implementing the priority part. Five years was suggested in the bill, but there are stakeholders who would prefer to see it at three years. I am flexible about this, and these are exactly the types of conversations that need to happen when the bill goes to committee.

Most recently, the NDP member for Elmwood—Transcona reintroduced work first put forward by former MP Scott Duvall. What was originally Bill C-259 in 2020 would amend the 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. It would also provide that an employer had to maintain group insurance plans that provide benefits to or in respect of its employees or former employees. This was the part of the bill that was a sticking point. This bill would also amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act to empower the superintendent of financial institutions to determine that the funding of a pension plan is impaired or that the pension plan administrator is at risk, and to set out measures to be taken by the employer in respect of the funding of the plan in such cases.

What I did was cherry-pick from all of the ideas that were previously supported by the House and put them all together in Bill C-228. Learning from both the numerous cases of company collapse and the various pension protection bills that came before to improve pension protection in a way we can all agree on is my goal here today. I also want to acknowledge that the Liberal member for Whitby is sponsoring e-petition 3893 on pension protections, supporting this very issue.

My bill has been reviewed by a variety of stakeholders, including the Canadian Federation of Pensioners and the Canadian Association of Retired Persons. Bill VanGorder, the chief operating officer of CARP, offered this quote:

Most older Canadians have fixed incomes but face rising costs, growing inflation, an unpredictable economy and retirement savings that suffer as a result. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) believes it is vital that the Federal Government protect pensioners by giving them ‘priority’ status and creates a pension insurance program that insures 100% of pension liabilities. This proposal would go a long way in making that happen.

Some banks and large financial institutions have expressed their reluctance. They are concerned that if pensioners are given priority, companies with insolvent funds will have to pay higher interest rates to obtain credit and will be less likely to apply for credit.

This is part of the reason why the timing of the implementation should allow time for companies with insolvent funds to get their finances in order.

I would like to point out that if a company cannot restore the solvency of its fund after a period of five years, it should indeed pay a higher interest rate to obtain credit, because it really does present a higher risk.

The Canadian Labour Congress would like unions to have a say in how priorities are set when it comes to pensions.

If we can agree on the priority status and include that in the legislation, so that it is not subject to whim or pressure, I think that would strengthen pension protection.

In summary, this is reporting to Parliament on the solvency of funds for greater transparency so that we can ensure actions are being taken to protect pensions; creating a mechanism to top up the funds to restore solvency; and, in the event of bankruptcy, ensuring that people who have worked their whole lives receive the pensions they were promised.

The Library of Parliament has created an excellent table from the three-inch-thick Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to show where I am suggesting pensions go in the priority of discussion. They would come after source deductions for CPP, QPP and EI and taxes due; after suppliers take back their goods delivered within a month of bankruptcy; after salaries up to $2,000 and the associated contributions; and before secured claims, preferred claims and unsecured claims.

Many members of the House in all parties have indicated their support for getting this bill to committee. I am open to consideration of other suggestions on how we can work to improve this bill to provide a successful outcome for Canadians, and I look forward to the industry committee's review of the bill.

I want to thank my colleagues for all their support in drafting this bill, and the MPs for Durham, Manicouagan and Elmwood—Transcona for their efforts to enhance pension protection. I would also like to thank Mr. VanGorder for his support and Mr. Mike Powell, the president of the Canadian Federation of Pensioners, for his invaluable help on this bill.

Finally, I want to end with a call to action. For many years, the House and the Senate have tried to address this issue. We have the opportunity now, as members of Parliament in difficult times, to come together and ensure that Canadians no longer find their pensions and retirement in jeopardy. We can work together to ensure that Canadians are able to live in dignity in their golden years, able to support themselves and their families with their hard-earned pensions.

Let us show Canadians that we have their interests at heart and support Bill C-228.

Retirement IncomePrivate Members' Business

March 29th, 2022 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Motion No. 45 regarding the financial security of seniors. When this was first proposed to me, my initial reaction was to think that this has already been done, and we already have solutions that could be put in place now. However, as the Bloc Québécois critic for seniors, I will give this matter all the attention it deserves. Members will understand that I have studied the content of this motion with great interest. Let me assure the House that the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of the motion.

The motion asks that:

(a) the House recognize that (i) seniors deserve a dignified retirement free from financial worry, (ii) many seniors are worried about their retirement savings running out, (iii) many seniors are concerned about being able to live independently in their own homes; and

(b) in the opinion of the House, the government should undertake a study examining population aging, longevity, interest rates, and registered retirement income funds, and report its findings and recommendations to the House within 12 months of the adoption of this motion.

For some seniors, however, this means another year of making tough choices.

My speech will focus on three things. First, I will talk about how the Bloc Québécois has fought hard for an increase in the old age security pension. Then I will talk about pension indexing and the protection of retirement funds.

We are not opposed to the federal government conducting studies on the financial situation of seniors, as Motion No. 45 proposes, because it is important to seek out new tools that would enable seniors to better take advantage of their financial wealth and enjoy the best standard of living possible. No one can be against apple pie.

On one hand, we have seniors who have accumulated a fair amount of assets during their life, it is true, but who nonetheless face financial challenges once they retire. On the other hand, we have more vulnerable seniors who absolutely need the support that the social safety net provides. Let us not forget that one in 10 seniors live close to the poverty line. These two groups of seniors do not have the same concerns, do not think the same way and do not turn to the same solutions.

This evening's motion has more to do with the first group of seniors, but that does not mean that we should not also talk about the second group, the so-called most vulnerable seniors who need our help.

Although many seniors have a decent amount of savings when they retire, they are often left to their own devices when it comes to withdrawing that money, even though they are in situation where the risk of longevity could negatively impact their savings, in other words, they could outlive their savings.

Another poll by RBC had similar findings. When respondents from Quebec were asked about their main concerns regarding their retirement finances, 52% of them were worried about not having enough savings. That number was higher than anywhere else in Canada. Some 42% of Quebeckers also expressed concerns about being able to maintain their standard of living. In addition, 31% of Quebeckers expressed concerns about the cost of health care, and again that number was the highest in Canada.

After Japan and South Korea, Quebec has one of the fastest-aging populations, a demographic challenge that is expected to peak in 2030.

The aging population presents many challenges, but there are a number of things we can do to improve living conditions for seniors, and in particular their financial situation, without conducting a new study.

First, the government needs to substantially increase old age security for all seniors 65 and over, on an ongoing basis.

Obviously, we are also not opposed to a motion calling on the House to recognize that all seniors deserve “a dignified retirement free from financial worry”. In fact, seniors' quality of life and their financial security are among the Bloc Québécois's top priorities, and we act accordingly.

Members will recall that, last year, the Bloc Québécois got a motion passed calling on the House of Commons to increase old age security. Everyone but the Liberals supported the motion.

There is currently a petition to increase OAS by $110 a month for people 65 and up. I am sponsoring it, but it was submitted by Samuel Lévesque of Saint‑Eustache on behalf of his grandparents with the goal of achieving intergenerational equity.

Still, it is surprising that the Liberals would put this kind of wording in their motion when they voted against our motion and chose to increase OAS by 10%, but only for people 75 and up, thereby creating two classes of seniors.

That is a funny way of recognizing that seniors have a right to a retirement “free from financial worry”. By making this choice, the Liberals are abandoning seniors aged 65 to 74, who account for about half of those collecting OAS, 57% to be precise. In other words, the government is abandoning 3.7 million beneficiaries.

Regardless of what the Liberals think, financial insecurity does not hold off until people turn 75. The FADOQ agrees. We can share numerous examples of people experiencing financial insecurity before the age of 75. Any of my colleagues here can attest to that.

Given Canada's less-than-stellar record on income replacement in retirement, we might at the very least have expected the Liberals to implement the 10% increase more quickly and to extend it to those 65 and up.

It is also hard to understand how the Liberals can propose the notion of a “dignified retirement free from financial worry” considering how they handled the CERB and GIS file. Despite knowing about the problem since the spring of 2021, the government took too long to correct an inequity in the interaction between CERB and GIS.

Many seniors have had their GIS cut since last July because they legitimately received CERB payments in the previous year.

The member for Joliette and I sent letters to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Seniors on two separate occasions to demand that the situation be fixed as quickly as possible. It was not until 2022, following significant pressure from the Bloc Québécois, that the government finally decided to take action and reimburse the affected seniors for their losses.

Second, let us talk about the indexing of pensions. It is especially important to talk about it now, considering how high inflation is and how the people most affected are those on fixed incomes, such as seniors.

For a dignified retirement free from financial worry, benefits need to be increased. The transition to retirement usually means a major drop in the average standard of living. According to OECD estimates, the net pension replacement rate was 50.7% of pre-retirement income in Canada in 2018, while the average for member countries was 57.6%. The EU average was 63%.

The runaway inflation we have been seeing for some time now is driving up the cost of groceries and rent. This is having an impact on seniors' finances. Those who are in a tough financial situation have been hit hard, as evidenced by the increased use of food banks everywhere. Organizations that help homeless women have noticed an increase in the number of elderly women among their clients.

The Association québécoise de défense des droits des personnes retraitées et préretraitées, an organization that advocates for the rights of retired and pre-retired people, has noted an increase in incoming messages over the past year, including dozens of emails from seniors who have ended up in disastrous situations. A person's ability to react to the rising cost of living is obviously limited when that person no longer has paid employment.

When it comes to indexing, we know that OAS and the GIS are indexed to the consumer price index. The indexing rate for 2022 is 2.7%, based on the previous year. However, according to Statistics Canada, the rate of inflation reached 5.1% in January 2022, or nearly double the indexing rate. Even setting aside this one-time discrepancy between the indexing rate and the actual inflation rate, what about the performance of the calculation method in the long term?

Indexation is a key determinant of the quality of benefit coverage. As the average life expectancy has increased in recent years, indexation of pensions has become more important, because the payments are made over a longer period of time. The standard of living and purchasing power of seniors are therefore directly affected. Purchasing power is affected when a person's pension increases at a slower pace than the cost of goods and services. It is a question of math.

For example, if the projected level of inflation for the next few decades is 2%, this means an approximately 50% decline in purchasing power over 30 years if a pension is not indexed.

Many pension advocacy groups are suggesting that pensions be calculated based on trends in wages rather than trends in the consumer price index. Many have decried the current situation, including the FADOQ, which spoke out against the sluggish indexation in July 2021, pointing out that the increase is not even enough to buy a coffee at Tim Hortons.

Third, concerning pension funds, my colleague, the member for Manicouagan, worked very hard to protect Bill C-253, which was introduced by that member in 2020 and then died on the Order Paper when an election was called. All four parties had been in agreement, but that bill died anyway. Another bill had met the same fate when the 2019 election was called. We have not made progress.

It is up to the Government of Canada to pass legislation to prevent these mishaps. The public understands very well that we must do everything we can to enhance and protect seniors' buying power. We all know that the population is aging. The number of people over the age of 75 in Quebec is increasing and will double by 2040. The number of people aged 85 and over is actually expected to triple during that time.

We must also help more seniors remain in the labour force. The Bloc Québécois made various proposals during the election campaign. We suggested that a tax credit for experienced workers be created. We also proposed that seniors who want to work longer be allowed to earn a higher income for the purposes of calculating the GIS.

I would like to make one last remark. Having worked in the community setting, at an organization that sought to raise awareness about elder abuse, I am very aware that it is not cool to talk about old people. They are seen as a drain on our society. In other words, we do not care about old people. Let us stop being ageist and recognize them for who they really are: a grey-haired source of strength. They deserve recognition for everything they have done for our society over the years. Truly, let us work together for seniors in our society.

Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1Government Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Madam Speaker, my esteemed colleague and seatmate, the member for Berthier—Maskinongé, is a tough act to follow. Since he was a teacher, he knows that repetition is the key to success, and that is what we need to do. My husband, who works in advertising, would say the same thing, so that is what I am going to do today.

It is with excitement for the end of the year that I rise today to speak to Bill C-30 at report stage. Many of my colleagues and I have said it before, so the House already knows that the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of this bill to implement certain measures in the 2021 budget.

However, as the Bloc Québécois critic for seniors, I want to remind the House that we first voted against budget 2021 because the federal government was not responding to our two main requests, which remain essential.

Before the House adjourns for what might be an indeterminate period of time, I want to reiterate those requests. First, the Government of Quebec and the Canadian provinces are formally requesting adequate, recurrent health funding. Second, seniors are calling for an increase in old age security for those aged 65 and up, a request brought forward by the Bloc Québécois.

The government continues to ignore Quebec's request. I know because I recently met with many elected members and employees at the National Assembly of Quebec, who speak to me about this regularly. This is a unanimous request from the provinces, Quebec, the National Assembly, and even the House of Commons, which adopted a Bloc Québécois motion last December that called on the government to significantly and sustainably increase Canada health transfers.

The government refuses to increase the current level of health transfers from 22% to 35%. Instead, Bill C‑30 offers only a one-time increase in health transfers, as announced last March. At the time, I showed that the amounts were clearly insufficient.

In this speech, which will quite probably be my last before the summer break, I will address our key requests for health and for seniors, as well as our requests for businesses and business owners. I will finish with a few wishes for the future of this Parliament.

The Bloc Québécois has made sensible choices in the best interest of Quebeckers. The deficit announced in budget 2021 is lower than expected: $354 billion instead of $382 billion. The difference happens to be $28 billion, the exact amount that Quebec and the provinces are asking for. With the government clearly gearing up for a massive spending spree, by refusing to increase transfers, Ottawa is making a political choice, not a budgetary choice, to the detriment of everyone's health.

The saddest part, however, is that Bill C‑30 is strictly an election budget. It merely repeats the Liberals' 2019 campaign promise to seniors to increase old age security, but only for those aged 75 and over and by only $766 per year, or $63.80 per month. This increase, which will not take effect until 2022, is not enough for seniors or for the Bloc Québécois. More importantly, it leaves those aged 65 to 74 out in the cold, which is practically half of the current beneficiaries of old age security. Let us also not forget the one-time $500 payment to made in August 2021, also only to those 75 and older.

That is why I continue to keep talking about our support for seniors. The Bloc Québécois will continue to demand a substantial increase, namely $110 more a month, for all seniors aged 65 and over. We do not accept the Liberals' argument that financial insecurity begins at age 75 and that younger seniors can just go to work.

For that reason, I am currently sponsoring petition e-3421, which was put online by Samuel Lévesque on behalf of his grandparents. Several seniors' groups have also sent letters in support of this request that comes from the entire House, except the Liberals, who continue to be isolated.

Ottawa is not doing as we asked and is creating two classes of seniors. Seniors' groups and seniors want to know why only seniors 75 and older are getting this increase and why it only starts in 2022. There are testimonials posted on FADOQ's web site showing that the lives of seniors 65 to 74 can also be difficult, and that they have needs that cannot wait until they turn 75.

For the Liberals, vulnerable people 65 and over do not deserve their attention. For the Liberals, insecurity only begins at 75. Naturally, we are not against the idea of a good number of seniors, about 50%, receiving the help they need, which is what Bill C‑30 would do.

In terms of the economy, I am elated to know that Bill C‑30 has finally rejected the foundation for creating a pan-Canadian securities regulatory regime, which the Bloc Québécois and Quebeckers strongly opposed. I would like to congratulate my colleague from Joliette for this important win and his hard work on this file. Ottawa could not be allowed to centralize securities regulation in Toronto. This is a big win for Quebec.

The Quebec National Assembly adopted four unanimous motions calling on the federal government to abandon this idea. Seldom had we seen Quebec's business community come together as one to oppose a government initiative. A strong financial hub is vital to the functioning of our head offices and the preservation of our businesses.

As we have seen with the pandemic, globalized supply chains are fragile and make us entirely dependent on other countries. We must develop our own chains and restore economic nationalism. Some measures in the budget are good, and we support them and support implementing them. For example, the budget will extend some essential, albeit imperfect, assistance programs, such as the wage subsidy and rent relief, until September 25, 2021. This is a positive because businesses, especially the ones back home that made good use of these programs, need some predictability in the programs they will have access to in the coming months. I should point out that this extension comes with a gradual decline in the amounts provided, which is a concern.

The Bloc Québécois will ensure that our businesses have access to programs that meet their needs for as long as they need them, particularly in the sectors that will take more time to get back to normal, such as tourism and small- and large-scale live events. These sectors are very important to Shefford, which relies on Tourisme Montérégie and Tourism Eastern Townships, and, of course, on many cultural events, such as the Festival international de la chanson de Granby. I could go on.

The bill also introduces some measures to combat tax evasion, but it does not go far enough. The government is presenting these measures as a massive campaign against corporate tax evasion, but in reality, these are just some highly specific, minor changes connected to ongoing litigation. The fight against tax havens will have to wait, even though it is a very important aspect of building tax fairness to enhance social justice.

Another thing to highlight is the creation of a new hiring subsidy program for businesses that are reopening. It could be useful. Bill C-30 would create this new program to encourage businesses to rehire their staff. We know that the hiring subsidy will come into effect in November 2021. Businesses will then have the choice of applying for either the hiring subsidy or the existing wage subsidy, whichever works out better for them. These are measures that could be very useful.

Since my time is running out, I will try to cover everything quickly. I have a wish list. I would have liked to see more investments in social and affordable housing in this budget. This problem continues to affect my riding in particular, especially the city of Granby, which is otherwise considered a great place to settle down. Businesses in my region are experiencing a labour shortage and need housing to attract workers with families so they can try to recruit them, but they have nowhere to house them.

There are also some bills that will not receive royal assent. That really saddens me. I would have like to see the Émilie Sansfaçon bill passed to allow people who are suffering from a critical illness to have 50 weeks of leave instead of 15 weeks. It is a matter of recovering with dignity.

I would have also liked to see the House pass my colleague from Manicouagan's Bill C-253 regarding pension protection and for it to receive royal assent. People who worked hard their whole lives have the right to enjoy the fruits of their labour. This bill would help them age with dignity.

I would have liked a budget with more support for our farmers. That is so important in my riding, which is part of Quebec's pantry. I would have liked to see a greater willingness to help the next generation of farmers. I want to point out that, right now, farmers are suffering because of frost and a lack of precipitation. They need better risk management programs and more precise traceability programs. Farmers are also feeling the effects of climate change.

I would have also liked to see tougher environmental measures for a greener recovery. For example, the government should invest just as much in forestry as it does in the oil industry. My Bloc Québécois colleagues and our political party established a comprehensive plan to focus more on renewable natural resources to get out of the crisis and to drive our regions' economies.

In closing, I would like to add one last thing. It goes beyond the budget, but as the status of women critic, I cannot give my last speech before the summer break without mentioning the crises that have been affecting women in particular since I arrived in the House. We commemorated the 30th anniversary of the École Polytechnique attack, but the issue of better gun control has still not been resolved because too many people are not satisfied with Bill C‑22. Femicides are on the rise. There have been 13 just since the beginning of the year. Quebec is calling for transfers with no conditions and fewer delays to provide better funding for women's shelters. Quebec knows what to do. There are also the cases of assault in the Canadian Armed Forces. The Deschamps report needs to be implemented.

In short, there is still a lot of work to be done. Let us reach out to one another and work together. The federal government's paternalism and interference needs to stop. We need to take action. There is still so much to be done.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 21st, 2021 / 5:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, entitled “Affordability and Accessibility of Telecommunications Services in Canada: Encouraging Competition to (Finally) Bridge the Digital Divide”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology in relation to Bill C-253, an act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act regarding pension plans and group insurance plans.

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with an amendment.

June 17th, 2021 / 11:05 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sherry Romanado

Shall the title of the bill carry?

(Title agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)

Shall the bill as amended carry?

(Bill C-253 as amended agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)

Shall the chair report the bill as amended to the House?

(Reporting of bill to the House agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)

Shall the committee order a reprint of the bill as amended for the use of the House at report stage?

(Reprint of the bill agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)

With that, folks, we've finished our first bill.

Congratulations, Ms. Gill.

We've moved the witnesses we were supposed to have today to next Tuesday, so we are good, folks. I think this is the first time that we will actually be able to have lunch today on our own.

I want to thank everyone. Thank you so much for your assistance in this. We're delighted to—

June 17th, 2021 / 11:05 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sherry Romanado

Welcome to meeting number 47 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

We're meeting today at the request of four members of the committee to discuss the request with regard to completion of the committee's study of Bill C-253.

With that, I just wanted to make a proposal. I think we all want to see this bill finished, so if it's the will of the committee, I'd like to propose that we start exactly where we left off, on the CPC amendment, so we can get this done today. I don't know about you, but I would like this thing finished.

If it's okay with everyone—if it's the will of the committee—can we start right away where we left off?

I'm seeing agreement. Okay, great.

We were on the CPC amendment. If anyone has any questions on it, please raise your hand and I will recognize you.

Go ahead, MP Jaczek.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2021 / 8:25 p.m.
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NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today as the proud member of Parliament for my community of Hamilton Mountain. It has been my immense privilege and honour to serve my constituents over the past six years as their MP, and for nine years before that as their city councillor for Ward 7. I have spent more than 15 years serving the people of Hamilton Mountain as an elected representative. It has been an exciting and rewarding experience to hear from my community, advocate on their behalf and fight for Hamiltonians as their representative at city hall and here in Ottawa.

It is now time for me to leave room for others to continue this important and great work. After leaving politics, I plan on spending time with the people I love deeply and care about, and will volunteer to help seniors in need. I also want to work with my grandchildren in my shop to help them build things.

This may be one of my last opportunities to speak in the House, so I want to take this opportunity to talk about what my caucus and I have championed over the six years during my time in Ottawa and what prompted me to run in the first place.

I came to Ottawa to fight for the people of Hamilton and for Canadian workers and pensioners. I am a proud steelworker, and my roots in the labour movement advocating for workers is why I am a New Democrat. Given my time at Stelco on the production line, then as a union steward and then as president of USW Local 5328, the labour movement has been my life. Protecting workers has been a priority during my time as an MP.

What we have seen in the House shows why we need a strong voice fighting for workers and for labour. We have seen several efforts by the government to legislate striking workers back to work and damage their ability to bargain for a fair deal with their employers. We have seen the government refuse to act on scab labour. We have seen the government refuse to protect the pensions of workers during bankruptcy and insolvency, and instead put big banks and investors at the top of the list. This is why it is so important that we continue to fight for workers in this place.

I went through the bankruptcy at Stelco back in the day, and I will never forget Judge Farley's advice, because I thought it was disgraceful how workers were being treated in the bankruptcy protection process. He said, “I don't like doing this, Mr. Duvall, and if you want to change it, go to Ottawa and change the legislation.” That is another reason I am here.

We have all seen an effort by the government to create a two-tiered system of “junior seniors” and “senior seniors” by only giving an increase in OAS payments to some and not others. We have also watched them fail to act to protect single seniors and allow them to continue to pay substantially more taxes than seniors in a couple with the exact same income. During my time in Ottawa, it is has been my priority to fight for seniors, to advocate for them and to push our government to do better.

In the House, I have sponsored a number of bills and pushed forward many initiatives. I have championed antiscab labour legislation aimed at protecting unions during labour disputes and preventing employers from undermining their collective bargaining. I have fought against government action to legislate striking workers back to work, taking away one of the strongest tools they have at their disposal to collectively bargain for a fair deal. I have pushed to protect the pensions of workers during bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and to make sure that payments of the unfunded portion of pension plans come before payments to big banks and investors.

I hope that before our Parliament is dissolved, quite possibly because of an unnecessary election call by the Liberals, we can pass through the House the best shot we have at protecting retirees and pensioners: Bill C-253.

During the pandemic, the time spent at home has reminded me of the importance of family and loved ones. As members of Parliament and as public servants, we are often forced to put our duties and responsibilities first and our families second. The toll this can have is immense, and I am so lucky to have had my family by my side the entire time.

I want to thank my wife Sherry; my kids, Laurie, Mandy and Megan; and my entire family and grandchildren. They have given me so much support and have made many sacrifices that have allowed me to do this important work and serve our community. I am so excited to spend more time at home with Sherry, and hope she will be excited to have me there with her, our family and grandkids.

I want to remind all of my colleagues in the House of the importance of our families and loved ones and the role they play in supporting our work. Our families and loved ones make just as many sacrifices as we do, if not more, to allow us to serve our community. We miss a lot of important moments in their lives while we serve, and when we leave public service, it is my belief that we owe it to them to make up for that lost time and to cherish our families.

I want to thank my incredible team of staff, both here in Hamilton and in Ottawa. In no particular order, I would like to say to Val, Rose, Bill, Tony, Kathleen and Aiden, and my former team members Chris, Erin and Jackie, that I thank them for everything they have done to support me, for their dedication and loyalty, our work throughout the years and their service to the people of Hamilton. Their dedication to our constituents shows how important it is for an MP to have a great team fighting for our community. They made me look good each and every day.

I want to thank the people behind the scenes supporting the whole NDP caucus, the team in the NDP lobby, particularly Anthony and Christian, who have made the time serving as a member of Parliament and being in the House so much easier and more effective. Their dedication is what allows us to be an effective caucus and do the work that we do best. They have provided so much guidance to us, and their contribution to our team is something I will never forget.

I thank my NDP caucus colleagues for fighting with me to protect workers, pensioners and seniors. I am proud to have served in a caucus that worked hard every day to protect people. I am grateful for all of their support, friendship and shared knowledge that made me a better MP.

I thank my leader, the hon. member for Burnaby South, for the guidance he has given our party. I cannot wait to see him become Prime Minister and demonstrate that an NDP government is the one that will put people first. Canadians can put their trust in New Democrats to fight for them.

I thank those in the labour movement who have supported my work and helped champion the causes I have taken on. In particular, I want to thank the incredible team at United Steelworkers, and Canadian director Ken Neumann and District 6 director Marty Warren for their faith in my fight to protect workers, retirees and pensioners. Their work and activism show that the Canadian labour movement is strong and will not quietly fight for the rights of workers across Canada, but will be loud until they are heard.

I want to thank the members of the Hamilton Mountain NDP and all the volunteers, supporters and activists who came out during each election and fought to make sure that Hamilton Mountain is represented by a New Democrat and by a party that will fight for them.

I also want to thank Monique Taylor, the MPP for Hamilton Mountain. From the time she was my assistant at City Hall to now, when we are working together representing Hamilton Mountain provincially and federally, we have been a great team. I am so proud of her work to fight for our community, and I cannot wait to see what more she does.

I want to thank the people of Hamilton. Without them and their support, I would not have had the honour of sitting in the House of Commons or the important duty of fighting for all of them. Every day that I spent serving the people of Hamilton was a privilege, and I was humbled by the trust they put in me to represent them.

I again want to thank my wife Sherry of 47 years. I am going to be home this time.

Mr. Speaker, it has been my greatest honour to be a member of Parliament. I thank you and I respect you.

I want to thank all the people in the House and I want to thank all the members. I have become friends with many of them. I really appreciate it. I have had a great time and I am going to miss a lot of people.

June 15th, 2021 / noon
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Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

My goal, as you can imagine, was to make sure that we could move on to clause‑by‑clause consideration. As a result, Mr. Duvall's presence is particularly significant as we move forward. Given the circumstances, I'll ask a question.

How would the passage of Bill C‑253 affect the government? We agree that there won't be any financial impact. Could it have other implications for the government, or is this purely ideological opposition from a party opposed to the bill?

June 15th, 2021 / noon
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sherry Romanado

I will call this meeting back to order. We are still waiting for one of the witnesses to join, but I don't want to hold off any longer.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Wednesday, May 12, 2021, the committee is meeting to continue its study of Bill C-253, an act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

I would like to now welcome our witnesses. They are here today as a resource for the committee during its clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.

With us today we have Mr. Mark Schaan. Welcome back to INDU. He is the associate assistant deputy minister, strategy and innovation policy sector, and we are hopeful that Mr. Paul Morrison, manager, corporate, insolvency and competition directorate, will be able to join us.

I also want to give a little shout-out to our legislative clerk, Monsieur Jacques Maziade.

Welcome back to INDU, and thank you for your assistance.

(On clause 1)

We had a speaking list. In the last meeting, when we left off, Mr. Poilievre had the floor, and we had Mr. Ehsassi and Mr. Duvall on the speaking list.

I see Monsieur Lemire has his hand up as well, so I will add him to the list.

I am just going to check and see.

Monsieur Poilievre, you had the floor. If you still need the floor, the floor is yours.

June 10th, 2021 / 11:05 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sherry Romanado

Good morning, everyone. I now call this meeting to order.

Welcome to meeting number 45 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of January 25, 2021. The proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. So you are aware, the webcast will always show the person speaking, rather than the entirety of the committee.

The first hour will be spent on clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-253, and then we will move in camera for the second hour to review our report.

To ensure an orderly meeting, I would like to outline a few rules to follow. Members and witnesses may speak in the official language of their choice. Interpretation services are available for this meeting; you have the choice at the bottom of your screen of floor, English or French audio. I'll remind you that all comments by members and witnesses should be addressed through the chair. Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. When you are not speaking, your microphone should be on mute.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Wednesday, May 12, 2021, the committee is meeting to begin clause-by-clause of Bill C-253, an act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

I'd like to now welcome our witnesses. Here to assist us today from the Department of Industry, we have Mr. Mark Schaan, associate assistant deputy minister, strategy and innovation policy sector; and Mr. Paul Morrison, manager, corporate, insolvency and competition directorate.

As this is the first time that INDU is doing clause-by-clause of a bill, I'd like to explain how today will go. I will introduce each clause and ask if any members have any questions or comments. If you do, please raise your hand, and we will keep track of the speaking order. I know that MP Lemire is in the room, so we'll try to make sure we can see him when he has his hand up.

Mr. Lemire, if I don't see your hand raised, please send me a message.

Thank you.

We will take care of the speaking order, and once we've finished any debate on a specific clause, I'll then turn it over to the clerk for the vote.

With that, I wanted to also introduce the legislative clerk who is with us in the room today, Monsieur Jacques Maziade.

Welcome to INDU.

June 8th, 2021 / 11:50 a.m.
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NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Thank you.

Mr. Eady, I want to thank you for all the hard work you've done representing the Sears retirees. You're an amazing person, and so is the group you're working with. I know you guys have gone through a hard time.

Would putting the unfunded portion of the pension plan up to superpriority and ahead of other secured creditors, as Bill C-253 will be doing, have helped save the Sears pensioners?