COLUMN: MP Stetski says stop the attack on workers’ pensions

MP Wayne Stetski says not enough is being done to protect Canadians’ pensions

Happy New Year! It has been three years since Justin Trudeau said on the 2015 federal campaign trail, “Obviously the Canadian government needs to work with provincial partners and a wide range of actors to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to protect people’s pensions.”

More than two years in office and one thing has become clear: Prime Minister Trudeau is not doing enough to protect Canadians’ pensions.

Pensions really are deferred wages – you pay into them while you are working in order to be financially secure in retirement.

It once was fair to assume that after a lengthy career, a hard working Canadian would have a guaranteed pension. Employers and employees contributed to a plan, and when the worker retired they knew the exact amount of the monthly payout. It was guaranteed. These pension plans are known as Defined Benefit Pension plans (DBPs).

That was until the government introduced Bill C-27 on October 19, 2016. The bill removes an employer’s legal obligations to fund their employees’ earned benefits and allows for the conversion of federally-regulated DBPs to target benefit plans.

Under these new target benefit plans if the stock market crashes or the pension plan’s investments underperform, it is the workers’ benefits that could be reduced or premiums increased; the employer is no longer obligated to guarantee a monthly payout amount. This change could lower benefits for both current and future retirees. The conversion will result in virtually all risk of market volatility being downloaded from the employer onto employees and retirees.

To be clear, C-27 targets employers in federally-regulated businesses such as banking and railways, as well as crown corporations. For Kootenay-Columbia this largely affects workers with Canada Post, banks, telephone systems like Telus or Shaw, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railroads, and federal government retirees.

The government assures us that these benefit changes will not be allowed to happen without the consent of the workers and retirees.

But let’s be serious: we can all see through this disguised attempt at security and recognize that employers will try to persuade workers and retirees to take on these new, risky benefits with enticing offers such as lump sum cash payments, onetime salary adjustments, increases in paid vacation or sick days and improvements in other benefits such as dental.

But these benefits should not be at the cost of secure pensions and retirement after contributing into a plan for your entire career. Since, Bill C-27 has not yet been passed into law there is still time to try and change the government’s mind on this bad piece of legislation.

If you aren’t an employee of a federally-regulated business you might assume your pension is safe. Don’t be so sure! Do you know if your pension plan is fully funded? As 16,000 Sears Canada workers discovered, theirs was not. They had to watch their bankrupt employer pay $6.5 million in bonuses to corporate executives while the future of their pensions is unknown.

Canada’s bankruptcy laws give priority to investors, banks and parent companies over workers’ pensions and benefits. Under current legislation, large multinational corporations are using Canada’s bankruptcy laws to take money meant for workers’ pensions and divert it to pay off their secure creditors, who in many cases are often their parent companies. This is corporate theft!

My colleague and NDP Pensions Critic, Scott Duvall has introduced Bill C-384, a bill I am proud to support. This bill would fix current legislation to first protect workers’ pensions and benefits and force companies to provide termination or severance pay, before paying secured creditors and executive bonuses.

I am hosting a telephone town hall on Feb. 6 with Scott on the systematic attack happening to pensions by the Liberal government. Stay tuned for a save-the-date reminder landing in your mailbox later this month.

I hope you will join the call to learn more about pension theft and have your questions answered. It is important to note recipients of GIS and OAS benefits are not affected by Bill C-27 or Canada’s bankruptcy laws

Just Posted

Nelson candidates debate climate change at forum

Mayoral and council candidates had the chance to speak on five fictional resolutions

UPDATE: Nelson man who swam naked with sharks arrested

David Weaver, 37, will face mischief and assault charges

Three Nelson marijuana dispensaries to remain open after legalization

Nelson’s police chief has no plans to close them down

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

LETTER: Beware those toeing the party line

Reader Bob Malcolmson questions CORE

VIDEO: First legal cannabis purchases as midnight strikes in eastern Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador was the first province to kick off the sale of cannabis, just after midnight local time

Boeser tallies in OT as Canucks beat Penguins 3-2

Vancouver wins without star rookie Pettersson

Mayor of Kamloops says ‘history has been made’ with vote on B.C.’s lone pot shop

The store to be run by the province in B.C.’s Interior is opening Wednesday as pot sales become legal across Canada

New bus route to ‘replace’ Greyhound along Trans-Canada Highway

Rider Express Transportation says they will soon begin a bus service from Winnipeg to Vancouver

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

Government says imprisoned Canadian terror suspects must face consequences

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale showed little sympathy Tuesday for such individuals who now want to return to Canada

How rules for inmate segregation in Canada will change under Bill C-83

Federal government proposing changes to rules around inmates in federal correctional institutions

Canada Post union issues strike notice; rotating strikes could begin Monday

Union says rotating strikes will begin if agreements aren’t reached with bargaining units

Carole James avoids questions on B.C.’s payroll tax (with video)

Green MLA Adam Olsen cites huge tax increase for local business

Most Read