The House

Ottawa 'willing to look at any good idea' to improve pensions

As support grows for legislative changes to help retirees keep their full pensions if the company they work for declares bankruptcy, the federal government is indicating it will be open-minded in looking at ways to fix the problem.
A closed Sears store is seen in Dartmouth, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. Sears Canada Inc. has decided to shut its doors and is seeking approval to liquidate its roughly 130 remaining store, leaving another 12,000 employees across the country without a job, and thousand of pensioners wondering about their pensions. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

As support grows for legislative changes to help retirees keep their full pensions if the company they work for declares bankruptcy, the federal government is indicating it will be open-minded in looking at ways to fix the problem.

In an interview on The House, David Lametti, parliamentary secretary to the minister of innovation, said the government is willing to look at any good idea to help retirees who could be left without their pensions after Sears goes bankrupt.

"It's a lousy situation. We've got to try to make the best of it," Lametti said, adding that he won't make any promises simply because the situation is also complex.  

Wanda Morris, vice-president of CARP, told The House that these retirees are not in a position to start saving or start a new career.

CARP is demanding that unfunded pension liability be given 'super priority' status so that pensioners are first in line to receive assets after a company calls it quits. It's a demand that's being echoed by two private member's bills, one from the Bloc Quebecois and the other to be tabled by the NDP.  

Morris said that they want to make sure pensioners get paid for the work they've put in.

"The first folks to get paid are the trustees and the bankruptcy lawyers, and right after that, it's the bankers and the bondholders," she added. "And what we're saying is there should be a super priority for pensioners so that after having worked for years or decades they're not suddenly left out in the cold."

As support grows for legislative changes to help retirees keep their full pensions if the company they work for declares bankruptcy, the federal government is indicating it will be open-minded in looking at ways to fix the problem. 9:56

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