Giving pensioners higher priority in bankruptcy proceedings would be a big step towards supporting Canadian workers and preventing failed execs from pocketing huge bonuses while their companies go down in flames.
In the wake of the Sears Canada bankruptcy, where the top execs pocketed millions in bonuses while loyal employees who spent decades with the company were screwed out of their pensions, there is a growing move to change the law to protect pensioners when companies go bankrupt.
The momentum comes as outrage grows over the treatment of Sears’ pensioners.
It is truly a despicable situation. People had money taken out of their paycheques for years and years going towards their pensions. They worked hard, were loyal to Sears Canada, followed all the rules, and were counting on their pension when they retired. Then, Sears went bankrupt and the executives who “led” the company to failure gave themselves a big reward and left many workers with nothing.
Disgusting is too kind a word for that kind of behaviour.
Unfortunately, the law lets Sears Canada executives get away with it, since pensioners don’t have priority when companies go bankrupt and the remaining assets are split up.
Now, both the NDP and Bloc Quebecois are planning to support legislation that will make pensioners a “super priority” in bankruptcy proceedings.
As noted in a recent report, “The Bloc has already tabled Bill C-372, a private members bill proposing amendments to existing laws. NDP pensions critic Scott Duvall said he will table his own private members bill soon. Duvall said government must work to close loopholes and put pensioners and workers first instead of “big fat corporations and CEOs.”
While both the Conservatives and Liberals failed to improve the system previously, they have a chance to do the right thing now. Deputy Conservative Leader Lisa Raitt has expressed a willingness to meet with the NDP to discuss it, while the Liberals say the want to “engage” on the issue. Both of those parties deserve heavy criticism for failing to act in the past, so they should jump at the chance to make up for that failure.
As we know, the government needs to support Canadian businesses with lower taxes, fewer regulations, and trade policy that protects Canadian companies and jobs. They also need to support Canadian workers, and that means ensuring that companies can’t screw over pensioners while failed execs pocket huge wads of cash.
Giving pensioners higher priority in bankruptcy proceedings is a long overdue change, and it’s one all parties should support.