Thursday, December 17, 2009

Letter to the Canadian Finance Ministers

My Letter to the Canadian Finance Ministers. Feel free to share it and use it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you meet in Whitehorse this week, I'm sure there will be many heavy and serious topics on your mind. No doubt your concern for your political future will influence much of what is decided. Even though you are the elected and appointed representatives of the people, I would guess that the real wishes of the people don't feature as strongly as they should in directing the future of such an important topic as Pension Reform. I say this because of the apparent apathy that various governments have shown towards retirees of companies which have gone bankrupt and left their pensioners with underfunded trusts. As the bondholders and insured creditors walk away from the carcass of the bankrupt companies carrying their spoils, the people who put their heart and soul into making the company successful in the first place are left scrabbling for crumbs. In a country such as Canada that prides itself on looking after its people and especially its older citizens, this is a dismal reality for thousands of retirees who once thought their country would never let them down.

A bold fix is possible that will endear you to your electorate and will move the country towards a more rational consideration of retirees caught in this awful situation. The United States, and the United Kingdom treats their retirees fairly when their company goes bankrupt. Each of those countries has thought it through and has in place an insurance net that protects the pensions of retirees who fall victim to the greed and incompetence of company managers. All you have to do is enact a change to the BIA and CCAA that would give pension trusts top priority in the event of a company bankruptcy. That would help refill the trusts to avoid pension wind up and the resulting slash in monthly income that these people face.

Spurred by the awful fate of Nortel Networks and the thousands of pensioners facing just that situation, a few thinking MPs have tried to make this happen, only to be stalled and dry-gulched by the uncaring majority. What shameful behaviour. Obviously the bankers and fat cat companies have huge sway among the government since that is the only explanation I can see for your inaction and total hands off attitude towards the men and women of Nortel who have helped put Canada on the world stage of telecommunications and trade.

Perhaps as you ponder the weighty problems of your re election you might consider taking a stand for the people who are relying and depending on you to do the right thing. It may actually work.

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