OTTAWA –A private member’s bill that calls for protection of worker’s pensions is coming up for a vote. New Democrat Members of Parliament John Rafferty (Thunder Bay – Rainy River) is calling for all-party support for his Private Members’ Bill C-501 at second reading. Rafferty’s bill would elevate pension plans to secured creditor status when a company enters restructuring or bankruptcy protection, and is up for its vote in the House of Commons at 5:30pm EST today.
Rafferty, the bill’s sponsor, said he believes his bill is reasonable and should be sent to committee to hear from witnesses. “C-501 will secure pension plans and retirement income for millions in Canada without costing the federal government a penny, so it’s hard to see why any MP would oppose it,” he said. “If for some reason an MP or a party has an issue with the bill, then they can put forth amendments in committee. But it has to pass this vote today to get to committee.”
Rafferty is calling for all-party support because of the unanimous support a similarly worded New Democrat motion received last year. “All parties voted unanimously for our Opposition Day Motion on June 16th last year, a section of which called for placing pensions at the front of the line of creditors during bankruptcy proceedings. This is why we are asking for and expect to receive all-party support for C-501 today,” Rafferty said. “The difference is that our motion last year was a non-binding ‘opinion’ of the House of Commons, but C-501 will make pension security the law. It’s now time for the other parties to back their words with action and help us get the job done.”
Rafferty introduced C-501in response to concerns expressed by local AbitibiBowater workers at several townhall meetings the MP hosted throughout in late 2009. C-501 would grant pension plans secured status during corporate restructuring and bankruptcy proceedings, and could secure the retirement income of up to 6 million Canadians according to Statistics Canada. If Rafferty’s Bill C-501 is passed on second reading, then it will head to the Industry, Science, and Technology where experts and witnesses will be heard from and the amendments can be tabled by the different parties. In the event that his bill passes today’s vote, Rafferty said he is “very open” to considering any and all amendments brought forward by other parties.