Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone
Uncertainty over the future of Sears pensions in the wake of the retail giant’s bankruptcy have led those advocating for improved protections for pensioners to pressure the government to change the law.
“We need legislative change,” said Wanda Morris, vice-president of The Canadian Association for Retired Persons, CARP, a national non-profit advocacy group that campaigns for healthcare and financial security for retirees.
“So, right now there is no plan to do that. Obviously, we’re open to discussions,” said Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains. “It’s not a matter of not wanting to. Right now, we’re engaging and we’re willing to work with anyone that wants to put forward proposals.”
“When we’re talking about pensioners, we’re talking about people with decades worth of experience and of wages deferred. They don’t have other pensions to pull on. They are extremely vulnerable and we need to protect them,” added Morris, whose group was on Parliament Hill Wednesday to lobby MPs.
The notion of a pensioner “super-priority” proposed by Morris is backed by both the Bloc Québécois and the NDP.
The Bloc has already tabled Bill C-372, a private members bill proposing amendments to existing laws. NDP pensions critic Scott Duvall said he will table his own private members bill soon.
“I have had people crying at their doors saying Scott, what’s happening? My benefits are cut off. I need my medical. I need my medicine. I have diabetes. Now all of a sudden they’re broke,” Duvall told reporters in Ottawa Wednesday.
“It’s clear that we have to do something, I just don’t know what it is. But it can’t be continuously companies coming in and just abandoning, and people end up picking up the pieces of their lives. I just find it unacceptable” said Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt, who has a family member affected by the Sears closure.
“We’re going to look for a policy solution and we’re going to work with the NDP…to see if there is any commonality between what NDP policy would be and what we possibly think a good Conservative solve would be,” Raitt added.
Earlier Wednesday, former industry minister Tony Clement said what Sears pensioners are going through “breaks my heart” but that legislation to protect pensioners poses a dilemma.
“How do you create the hierarchy of rights so that lenders will still lend to companies with a reasonable expectation that they can get their money out if something goes wrong and protect the employees who have given part of their earnings and have a reasonable expectation of pension rights,” said Clement.
Minister Bains said Wednesday that the government will “engage” with the NDP and Bloc on their proposed changes and “look at the implications” of granting priority to pensioners in bankruptcy proceedings.