Unions welcome new protections for workers’ pensions

November 23, 2022

Bruske: Senate must now act quickly to pass Bill C-228 and safeguard the hard-earned pensions of millions of workers and pensioners.

OTTAWA — Canada’s unions are happy to see Bill C-228 passed in the House of Commons today. This bill aimed to ensure that in the event of an employer becoming insolvent, the employer will have to prioritize paying pensions before addressing other financial liabilities.

‘‘Bill C-228 is about fairness for workers. We’re encouraged by the cross-party support for this legislation,’’ said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “For decades we have seen companies pay out creditors, even pay out bonuses to executives after declaring bankruptcy, while workers wait at the back of the line. We are glad to finally see workers being prioritized over banks and CEOs in bankruptcies situations.’’

We are disappointed in the actions of Liberal MP, Kevin Lamoureux, which resulted in the removal of important protections that would have given super priority to workers’ severance and termination. 

“Pensions are earned and paid for by workers, and that money belongs to them. Workers depend on that money when they retire,” added Bruske. “It is frustrating and unjust that workers are left with crumbs when a company enters insolvency.”

Bill C-228 is an important move towards protecting workers. Canada’s unions are now asking senators to act urgently and pass this bill. The Senate has an obligation to represent the interests of Canadians, particularly those who are underrepresented. Bill C-228 will provide crucial protections for workers across the country in the event that their employer declares bankruptcy.

It is important to remember that workplace pensions are not gifts from the employer. Pensions are essential to the financial security and well-being of working people in Canada. Next to their homes, pension savings are one of the most important pools of assets that workers accumulate over their lifetimes. We believe defined benefits plans are an excellent way to attract and retain employees, and we are determined to maintain and improve these plans.

“Never again should the injustice faced by Sears workers, Nortel workers, Stelco workers, and others should be allowed to happen,” noted Bruske. “We are glad to see progress on protecting people’s pensions, and making sure that workers receive what they are owed in the event a company goes bankrupt—workers should always be the first priority, not the last, and they need senators to stand up for them and pass this bill.”

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