North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney is calling for the federal government to protect workers’ pensions after the closure of the Myra Falls mine near Campbell River.
Blaney spoke in the House of Commons on Feb. 2, asking the government to pass regulations to implement the Pension Protection Act, which was passed in April 2023.
“I have sat down with Unifor Local 3019, which is working hard with all levels of government to protect its workers. Its ask of me was simple: When will the rules finally be fixed in Canada to protect workers’ pensions and local small businesses in our community when big projects shut down?” Blaney said.
The parent company owning Myra Falls Mine closed the operation and laid off 300 workers on Dec. 18. The company, Singapore-based metal and energy company Tafigura, placed the mine in “long-term care and maintenance.” The mine has also sought creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to restructure and reopen the mine sometime in the future.
The Pension Protection Act is meant to protect the members of defined benefit pension plans. However, Blaney says that Currently, pensions are at the bottom of the priority list. This means workers who spend their entire lives building a pension while employed with a company might wind up getting only pennies on the dollar when their employer declares bankruptcy.
“Where is the government in finally making workers a priority in this country?” Blaney said. “When will we see workers and their pensions at the top of the list instead of at the bottom? Workers in Canada do not deserve this. Our communities have seen these boom-and-bust cycles again and again. The workers and their local communities bear the weight of it. It is time that they were protected. Get the regulations in place now.”