Posted on 21 October 2010
OTTAWA – Today, Senator Art Eggleton and Liberal Critic for seniors and pensions, Judy Sgro, called on the government to fast-track Bill S-216 – which would amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arraignment Act to protect employees on long-term disability (LTD) – through Parliament by the end of the year.
“With Nortel LTD benefits running out at the end of the year, these employees need certainty on their future,” said Senator Eggleton. “How are they going to pay the bills, pay for their medication and support their family? We need to pass S-216 without delay.”
Recently, Conservative Senators on the Senate Banking Committee’s steering committee voted to do a review of the Business Development Bank of Canada instead of studying Bill S-216 which would only take two meetings to complete.
“We urge the Conservative Senators to change their decision and the government to support the bill,” said Liberal Seniors and Pensions Critic Judy Sgro. “If they don’t they will have smashed the hopes of hundreds of disabled Nortel workers who are being shunted aside.”
Bill S-216 would amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to protect employees on long-term disability by granting them preferred status during bankruptcy proceedings. By bringing LTD claimants to preferred status, employees are more likely to get their benefit coverage up to age 65, be able to pay their medical bills and continue to live outside of poverty.
At the moment, over one million employees in Canada have disability benefits that are self-insured by their employers. If their company goes bankrupt, LTD employees - who are unsecured creditors – will be left holding an empty bag. These employees will turn increasingly to social assistance, while the company walks away from its responsibilities.
If nothing is done soon, many Canadians on long-term disability will lose their benefits if their company goes into bankruptcy. Over 400 employees at Nortel alone face this grim reality.
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For more information, please call:
Office of the Hon. Art Eggleton
Senate of Canada
Office of the Hon. Judy Sgro
Liberal Critic for Seniors and Pensions