I spent most of this past week in Ottawa taking care of a few housekeeping items and tying up some loose ends.
Among the business I was taking care of was conducting some outreach on my pension security bill C-501. As part of these outreach efforts I drafted and sent a letter to each of my colleagues in the House of Commons asking for their feedback on the bill, launched a Facebook group, and held a national press conference to put the issue on the public agenda as widely as possible across Canada.
Overall, the week went quite well. For the column this week I will share with you the letter that I wrote to my fellow MPs on C-501. In the letter, I was trying to strike a non-partisan, non-confrontational, and constructive tone because this is the sort of issue that should bring people together instead of drive them apart. I hope many of my colleagues will take up my invitation to meet at some point as I think we all of us recognize that something needs to be done to protect the pensions and retirement income of all Canadians.
PS – if you are a Facebook user and would like to support C-501 online then you can join our group, download a petition and other materials, and stay in touch by logging into your account and clicking this link: http://tinyurl.com/C501-Facebook
Tuesday August 3, 2010.
Members of Parliament
House of Commons
As you are aware, Canadian families and businesses are struggling through some of the worst economic conditions in recent memory. Many companies have entered various stages of bankruptcy or restructuring and thousands of hard-working Canadians continue to lose their jobs and pensions as a result. The retirement income of millions of hardworking Canadians at companies like Nortel and AbitibiBowater has been lost or is at risk through no fault of their own, and only because our federal bankruptcy and insolvency laws permit such an injustice to occur. As elected representatives of the people we can, and must, correct this injustice.
On March 30th, 2010 I introduced Private Members’ Bill C-501, which would grant ‘secured’ status to pension funds during restructuring, bankruptcy, and liquidation proceedings. If passed into law, this bill would assist millions of workers across Canada by ensuring that the vast majority receive the retirement income that is owed to them in full and regardless of the fate of their employer.
I am happy to report that with the help and support of MPs from every caucus C-501 passed at second reading on May 26th and is now in the hands of the Industry Science and Technology committee. I am grateful that the bill received such widespread support, but I am also keenly aware that many of you still believe that this bill has some flaws and that it can be improved. Regardless of how you voted or would have voted at second reading I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions on C-501, and in particular changes that you think could be made to improve the bill and secure its passage at third reading. I hope you will accept this letter as an open-ended invitation to meet and discuss the future of this important piece of legislation at your earliest convenience.
I believe that this bill is long overdue and that we are in a unique position as MPs to secure the pension and retirement income of thousands of workers in each of our ridings throughout the country. I am certain that you will agree that hard-working Canadians deserve better than to lose their retirement income because of outdated bankruptcy and insolvency laws, and that it is in fact the role of our federal government to correct such injustices once they become apparent. I hope you will join me in this effort.
In closing, I thank you again for your consideration of this bill and I sincerely hope that you will accept my invitation to meet to discuss how we can improve C-501 and work together to secure the retirement income of more than 6 million Canadian families moving forward.
John Rafferty, MP
Thunder Bay – Rainy River