Politics Blog: NDP continues to fight for pensions and workers’ rights

Ottawa – January 4, 2021 – Canada’s NDP is the only political party that consistently stands up for the rights of workers and the protection of their pensions and benefits. While other parties talk about supporting workers, there are never any real actions taken by these parties to strengthens workers’ rights. However, with the introduction of Private Members’ Bills 259 and 258, the New Democrats are once again putting pensions and workers’ rights on the agenda in the House of Commons.

Bill C-259, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act, and the Pension Benefits Standards Act would ensure that any pension fund be funded to 100 percent before any secured creditors are paid. It will guarantee that any termination or severance pay owing is paid to workers before paying any secured creditors. The bill prevents a company from stopping the payment of any retirement benefits during proceedings under the BIA or CCAA, and restricts any “asset stripping,” where companies pay out dividends to stockholders while leaving their pension plan underfunded. Workers would be put at the front of the line in these circumstances, protecting their pensions and benefits.

Bill C-258, An Act to amend the Canadian Labour Code (Replacement Workers), would ban the use of replacement workers in cases of strikes and lockouts, as well as schemes to skirt the law such as teleworking. The use of replacement workers during a labour dispute destroys workers’ ability to negotiate, harms labour relations, and only serves to prolong strikes. NDP MP Scott Duvall’s bill ensures that workers’ charter rights to free collective bargaining are protected indefinitely.

Previous attempts by the NDP to ban replacement workers have been met with opposition by both the Liberals and Conservatives. And during the 2019 Federal Election, Justin Trudeau campaigned on improving retirement security for Canadians, but has refused to fix the rules that let companies shortchange workers’ pension funds.  

The Conservatives have never supported the elimination of replacement workers or protecting workers pensions. In the previous parliament, when MP Duvall introduced a bill to protect pensions, the Conservative response was to introduce their own bill. Bill C-405, introduced by the current Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, would have made it easier for employers to change their defined benefit pension plans to targeted plans transferring the responsibility for pensions to workers themselves. O’Toole’s changes would have only benefited employers’ bottom lines, as well as the financial industry.

Simply put, Liberals and Conservatives like to talk about their support for workers, but it is only Jagmeet Singh and Canada’s NDP who act in workers’ interests.