Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

July 07, 2008 13:00 ET

A Victory for Working Canadians

New Wage Earner Protection Program offers balance and fairness when companies go bankrupt

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 7, 2008) - Thanks to some persistent and focussed political advocacy, and the hard work of countless union activists, there's good news for everyone who worries about what could happen to them if their company goes bankrupt.

The Canadian Labour Congress has won an important new program that offers working people a better deal. Starting this summer, the Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) will offer immediate payment of lost wages and vacation pay owed to workers for up to six months before their employer declared bankruptcy.

"We never gave up and never stopped talking to government officials and elected Members of Parliament, whether it was in Ottawa or in their local constituency offices. We made them see the reality that faced 20,000 workers each year when their employers declared bankruptcy. We convinced them to change the law for the better," said Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

On July 7, the Minister of Labour, Jean-Pierre Blackburn held a news conference together with Hassan Yussuff, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress to announce that the WEPP was up and running.

Starting this summer, the Government of Canada will issue an immediate cheque, for as much as $3,162, and then seek to recover the money from the bankrupt employer. Over time, the amount of lost wages and vacation pay workers can recover through the WEPP will rise, indexed to inflation. Thanks to some extra pressure from the CLC, a proposed three-months-on-the-job-to-qualify rule has been removed from the program's regulations.

"Working people need to know that the people they elected to Parliament, from all political parties, got the job done for them. They changed an unfair law, established a new program that helps and quickly got that program in place," said Georgetti.

Georgetti said the WEPP marks a first step towards better protection for the hard-earned wages and pension savings of working Canadians.

"This is an example of what working people can do when they work together, raise their voices, show their faces and talk about their everyday lives with elected officials who are ready to listen. It's political action that works. Just imagine the kind of country we could have if more people got engaged like this," he said.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca

Contact Information

  • Jeff Atkinson
    613-526-7425
    613-863-1413