A small group of seniors gathered outside Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr’s constituency office Wednesday to mark the National Day of Action to Protect Pensioners.
The group, part of a Canada-wide movement, wants the federal government to change the laws that govern pensions in this country, particularly company pensions.
As has been seen recently in the case of Sears Canada closing, long-time employees can lose out when a company goes out of business and the pension plan they were paying into for years was either not funded properly or not properly administered.
Barry Sharp, who along with four others in the group met with Fuhr Wednesday behind closed doors, said prior to the meeting he wanted to get the MP’s support for the changes that would make pensioners a “super priority.”
One man in the group said he would like to see the federal government allow companies to over-fund pension plans during good times to help offset lean years when a company may not have as much money to contribute on behalf of employees.
At Sears Canada, which declared bankruptcy before closing, former employees who were part of the pension plan there have been left with little and are last on the list of creditors to be paid out. An estimated 16,000 former Sears Canada employees are affected.
Sharp said a national petition calling for the changes already has 28,000 signatures on it, with more than 200 from the Kelowna area.
Following the meeting with the pensioners, Fuhr said he felt they have valid concerns which need to be addressed. And he committed to taking their case first to the Liberal’s Pacific MP caucus and then on to the full national caucus.
“I think they had some really good points” he said.
Sharp was pleased with the reception the group received from Fuhr and the MP’s commitment to take the issue to government.
Because some pension issues fall under provincial jurisdiction, Fuhr also advised the group to talk to their local MLAs as well.
Wednesday’s National Day of Action to Protect Pensioners was proposed by the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.
It’s vice-president of advocacy, Wanda Morris, said gatherings were planned outside the offices of 100 MPs across the country.
“Canadians are determined to send a message to our government that pensioners cannot be ignored,” said Morris. “It’s time for leadership. It’s time to change the law to protect pensioners.”
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