This Bill is a request to change the bankruptcy laws to protect workers’ pensions.

The federal NDP has launched a drive to reform Canada’s bankruptcy laws.

In a room full of union supporters Sept. 15 at the Steelworkers Hall on Barton Street, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair announced Hamilton Mountain MP Scott Duvall, a former steelworker, will introduce a private member’s bill this fall to protect workers’ pensions when a company is allowed to restructure its financial affairs under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

“The workers are not asking for anything more than what they already have,” said Duvall, surrounded by Hamilton’s other NDP politicians — David Christopherson (MP Hamilton Centre) and MPPs Paul Miller and Monique Taylor — along with leaders of various unions.

“They are asking to commit to the agreements for employment and (for companies) to stop stealing from them.”

Duvall referred to the recent decision by Sears Canada to seek protection that he said allowed the company to fire 2,900 people and eliminate their medical and pension benefits. The company also filed a motion in court to suspend monthly payments to employees’ pension plan and retirees’ post-retirement benefit plan.

“That is the most ruthless, gutless, unethical thing I have ever seen,” said Duval, the NDP’s pension critic.

In June, Sears Canada announced it was seeking court protection from its creditors, which included laying off 17 per cent or 2,900 employees from its 17,000 staff and closing 59 locations.

U.S. Steel Canada operated under the creditors’ act from September 2014 until it emerged from creditor protection in June. It was acquired by Bedrock Industries and formally changed its name to Stelco.

Since 2009, the government has granted 286 companies creditor protection under the bankruptcy laws, including Can-West, Bauer Hockey Retail Corp., SunEdison Canadian Construction LP, Golf Town Canada Holdings Inc., and the Victorian Order of Nurses for Canada.

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