Statement by Bea Bruske: Senators vote to put workers and pensioners before big banks and wealthy CEOs

April 19, 2023

Bruske: Passage of pension protection Bill C-228 is a win for workers and plan members

Canada’s unions are celebrating the Senate’s decision to pass Bill C-228 (Pension Protection Act), legislation that will ensure defined-benefit pensions receive super-priority status in bankruptcy and insolvency cases.

“Pension protection has been a priority for Canada’s unions for decades. Multiple private members’ bills seeking to protect pensioners in insolvency proceedings have been defeated but with Bill C-228, our government is finally putting workers and pensioners first,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

“This long-overdue legislation will provide financial security and peace of mind to millions of workers and their families, by prioritizing workers’ pensions over mega-banks and executive bonuses in corporate insolvency cases,” she added.

“Defined-benefit pensions pay a predictable pension income in retirement until death, supporting not only pensioners and their families but local economies, businesses, and tax-funded services.”

Bruske said that the passage of C-228 will ensure that the injustice faced by Sears, Nortel, and Stelco workers is not allowed to happen again.

“With Sears’ bankruptcy, 17,000 workers saw the pensions they had earned and planned to rely on significantly reduced after Sears Canada paid billions of dollars to shareholders before seeking creditor protection. Too often, big banks and wealthy CEOs get paid while workers are left holding the bag. We welcome parliamentarians’ decision to rectify this disastrous imbalance,” said Bruske.

Since February, thousands of workers and retirees have taken action to urge Canada’s senators to pass Bill C-228. The CLC worked with our affiliates to help over 8,600 activists send letters and over 1,100 activists make calls to their provincial senators to show support for the bill.

Bruske added, “Opponents of Bill C-228 want to preserve the ability of companies to restructure on the backs of workers and pensioners. This is wrong and unfair. Despite attempts to stop this bill, people power has prevailed and vital pension protections for retirees and workers will finally become law – something we should celebrate.”

Bill C-228 received cross-party support in the House of Commons, before being passed by the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Commerce and the Economy unamended. Yesterday the bill overcame its final hurdle in the Senate, passing unanimously.

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