On October 18, the Conservative government introduced C-45, an omnibus bill containing provisions to create a two-tier public sector workforce in this country.
Buried in the bill is a provision to raise the age of retirement for all public employees hired after January 1, 2013. This would force younger workers to work longer in order to achieve the same benefits as older workers.
New Democrats are deeply concerned about the Conservative proposal for a two-tier workforce. This is the same Conservative government that has refused to take action on high youth unemployment, and told young people that they will need to work two years longer to receive Old Age Security.
New Democrats were further astonished when Liberal MPs tabled a motion to adopt immediately all the parts of the bill dealing with pensions. The Liberal motion effectively approved a two-tier public sector pension system, affecting over 450,000 Canadian public sector workers -- without debate.
Except for the fact that New Democrats denied the unanimous consent required, the Liberal motion to split the bill would have passed, selling out public sector workers. New Democrat also called for a separate study of the provisions affecting public service sector pensions in committee.
Canadian workers have a right to have their voices heard before any decision is made. The Liberals and Conservatives now have the opportunity to take advantage of this second chance to do the right thing.
As New Democrat critic for Pensions, I am proud of the work of my caucus in fighting to protect and improve pension security for Canadians.
The Conservative government has introduced Bill C-45, the second omnibus budget implementation bill. Here's a brief look at what's inside the 450-page document. <em>With files from CBC</em>
<strong>UPDATE</strong>: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/19/mp-pension-changes-passed-bill-c-45_n_1987522.html">MP Pensions have been hived off from the omnibus bill and passed without further debate in a surprise deal between the government and opposition parties</a>. Starting as early as January 2013, public servants and MPs will have to contribute 50 per cent of the payments into their pensions. MPs will also have to wait until age 65 to start collecting their pensions, or be penalized if they start at age 55. The precise date for MP pension changes is Jan. 1, 2016. There will be no change to the current eligibility for MP pensions of six years of service.
The Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board will be dissolved, and an interim means of establishing premium rates set up to replace its work. The Crown Corporation is currently run by a seven-member board. This move continues employment insurance changes started with the first omnibus budget bill, as cabinet gradually receives more authority to reform EI.
The bill makes what could be controversial changes to the Indian Act, amending it to change the rules around what kind of meetings or referenda are required to lease or otherwise grant an interest in designated reserve lands. The aboriginal affairs minister would also be given the authority to call a band meeting or referendum for the purpose of considering an absolute surrender of the band's territory.
Last spring's changes to the Environmental Assessment Act are tweaked further in this omnibus bill.
The bill will extend a popular small business hiring credit.
C-45 also facilitates the construction of a new bridge across the Detroit River at Windsor, announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last summer. Certain legislation will be changed and other legislation won't apply to this bridge. Three federal bodies will cease to exist with the passage of this legislation.
The bill also amends the Canada Grain Act, simplifying the way it classifies grain terminals, repealing grain appeal tribunals, and ending several other requirements of the current Act, giving the Canadian Grains Commission more power to regulate the grain industry. These changes follow the end of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly over wheat and barley sales in Western Canada, which take effect for this year's harvest.
All the work of the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission will be transferred to the health minister.
The Merchant Seamen Compensation Board will see its authority transferred to the Minister of Labour. The three-person board currently hears and decides benefit claims for merchant seamen who are injured or disabled as a result of their work and are not currently covered by provincial workers' compensation benefits.
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