Under the act, secured creditors, including lenders and debt-holders, top the list to get their money back. Workers and their benefits are typically at the end of the line. Duvall is proposing with his bill to make sure workers receive the same amount of consideration as the secured creditors when a company seeks protection.
Duvall said over the years he has seen retirees deprived of their benefits and with limited financial resources forced to decide either to put food on the table or buy drugs for their medical condition.
“It’s got to stop,” he said.
Duvall said he expects to introduce his bill in the House of Commons sometime this fall. But he conceded it will be up to the Liberals to decide how fast to move the legislation.
“I’m challenging the other members of government and the other parties to get on board with this,” said Duvall.
He said he has contacted Hamilton East-Stoney Creek Liberal MP Bob Bratina and Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas Liberal MP Filomena Tassi about his bill, but “I haven’t had any type of response back.”
Duvall acknowledged his legislation won’t help the people fired from Sears, or any workers who have suffered a similar fate.
He said the bankruptcy laws were established in 1933 to protect companies and shareholders during the Great Depression. But now companies are using the laws to their own advantage, he said.
“It’s the wild west,” said Duvall. “The rules are made up as they go.”
Mulcair blamed the Liberals and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for ignoring the steelworkers’ plight.
During the campaign Trudeau promised in Hamilton he would protect steelworkers’ pensions, said Mulcair. But since being elected nearly two years ago, the Liberals have voted against the NDP’s anti-scab legislation, while refusing to do anything about the retirees.
“We really want people to understand that the NDP is serious about protecting pensions,” said Mulcair. “(Trudeau) talks on the left, but governs on the right.”
Duvall says he will criss-cross the country drumming up support for his private member’s bill, talking to union organizations and visiting other MPs ridings.
“We need to make sure this issue has to stop before anybody else gets hurt,” said Duvall.