CUPE National President Mark Hancock has called on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to withdraw Bill C‑27, “An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.”
If passed, Bill C‑27 would allow federally‑regulated employers like banks, transportation and telecom companies to retroactively walk away from the pension promises they have already made to workers and retirees.
“This deal-breaking is why C‑27 is so wrong in principle,” wrote Hancock in CUPE’s submission to the finance minister this week. “Canadians overwhelmingly reject the idea that employers should be allowed to walk away from past pension promises. Even if governments can get away with legalizing such behavior by amending a statute, this does not make it right.”
The first effort to undo Canada’s federal protections for pensions took place, not surprisingly, under the Harper Conservatives in 2014. The Harper government explored C‑27-style changes to pension law but never actually introduced legislation.
At the time, the Liberals strongly opposed Harper’s proposal, saying these kinds of changes “would harm Canadian pensions.” Harper ultimately shelved the idea after strong pushback from unions and retiree groups.
Instead of carrying Stephen Harper’s torch, Hancock urged the Liberal government to join with working Canadians to protect the sanctity of pension promises.
“There is a better way forward and we call on the government to sit down with workers and employers to find that path.” said Hancock, in his letter to Morneau. “Given our experience in other jurisdictions, we know that better solutions are available.”