Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP Dan Albas —Image: contributed

Albas: Finding success with private members’ bills

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP moves to protect RESPs and RDSPs

By Dan Albas

It is often said that time flies on the government side of the House but moves much more slowly when in opposition.

I mention this as last week marked the six-year anniversary since my first private members bill became law.

Bill C-311 removed prohibition-era federal restrictions that blocked direct to consumer shipping of wine.

In the last parliament, the Conservative Government used a similar mechanism to also include craft beer and artisan spirits, all in an effort to open up our borders to increased inter-provincial trade.

A private members bill or motion is one of many ways than an MP can introduce legislation to help benefit the riding he or she represents.

In the case of my former bill, many Okanagan wineries were frustrated at the inability to legally sell to Canadians who visited their winery in person from other provinces as it was illegal to transport that wine home across a provincial border.

More recently, Credit Unions, of which we have many in our community, faced a threat from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions that would have banned them from using terms such as “bank,” “banking” or “banker.”

After hearing of this problem, I wrote several MP reports on the subject and heard almost unanimous feedback. In some cases, even outrage at the thought of the long arm of Ottawa attacking credit unions in this way.

In response to the feedback, I tabled another private members bill, Bill C-379, that called for the Bank Act to be amended to ensure that credit unions could continue to use these terms without fear of reprisal from Ottawa.

I was particularly pleased when an independent senator, appointed by the prime minister, contacted me with an interest to potentially sponsor my bill in the Senate.

Fortunately, and full credit to the Liberal government, it essentially included the spirit of my bill in its recent Budget Implementation Act.

This will ensure credit unions and caisse populaires (as they are known as in Quebec) will no longer face this threat.

Last week, before the House of Commons adjourned, I tabled my latest private members bill.

Bill C-410 proposes to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to protect Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP) and Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP) from seizure by creditors in the case of bankruptcy or insolvency.

RESPs and RDSPs are important saving tools for Canadians living with disabilities and for families saving for their children’s education.

Currently a trustee in bankruptcy can permit creditors to seize the holdings of any RESP or RDSP in the event that the account owner files for bankruptcy. By extension this can include accounts dedicated to provide care for severely disabled children. It can also include education accounts for children.

Bill C-410 would prevent that from happening in a similar way to how Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) and Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF) are protected now.

I was honoured to hear the Canadian Association of Social Workers has responded positively to Bill C-410, however as parliament is currently adjourned, it is unclear if the Liberals and NDP will support of my bill.

I will continue to solicit input from industry, citizens and parliamentarians during the summer recess.

To that end, my question this week:

Are you supportive of Bill-410, proposing to protect families dealing with the high costs of caring for a family member with disabilities and for parents who want the best possible education for their children?

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola. He can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call him toll free 1-800-665-8711.

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