Sunday, December 5, 2010

Canadian Bill C-501, Industry Committee Meeting

The minutes of the Canadian Parliamentary Committee on Industry for Dec 2nd are centered on their discussion of Bill C-501 which is intended to provide super-priority for unfunded pension amounts in bankruptcy situations.

Based on what I read, this bill will not provide Nortel pensioners with any help to bridge the pension funding shortfall since there is no retroactivity clause and that is clearly understood by the committee members.

You can read the minutes at the following extremely long link"

The committee spent most on their time debating amendments to the 7 clauses of the bill which were intended to make the intent of the bill clear. The amendments would mean that the bill gave super-priority to all unfunded amounts that would be required to bring pension funds up to a solvency level to provide full pension rights to retirees.

The committe decided that they needed to have further input from the witnesses who had attended previous sessons to obtain their input on the amendments. The motion approved by the committee was described by Mr. Robert Bouchard:

We are talking about two meetings to hear witnesses and a third for clause-by-clause consideration. I am pretty sure that not all of the witnesses we heard from previously will return. I think we could probably combine the ones that we've already heard from with some new ones, as proposed by my colleague. In any case, we can limit ourselves to two meetings to hear witnesses and a third for clause-by-clause. I think it would be appropriate to set a limit. That way we would be required to have results by the time the third session came around—in other words, for clause-by-clause. I believe there is a consensus on that. Conservative members seem to agree. I think I also heard Mr. Rafferty say that he is open to that idea. That is also our position.

The committee also decided to ask for a 30 day extension.

As part of the discussion it was made very clear that this bill would not provide any relief to Nortel Pensioners since there is no retroactivity in it. The committee members referenced the efforts made by Nortel Pensioners to have the bill enacted and lauded their self sacrificng attitude to help future pensioners in a similar situation.

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