Fighting to protect families

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

I mention this as last week marked the six-year anniversary since my first private member's 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 member's bill or motion is one of many ways MPs can introduce legislation to help benefit the riding they represent.

In the case of my former bill, many Okanagan wineries were frustrated at their inability to legally sell to out-of-province visitors because it was illegal to transport wine 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.

I wrote several MP reports on the subject and heard almost unanimous feedback. In some cases, there was even outrage at the thought of the long arm of Ottawa attacking credit unions.

In response to this feedback, I tabled another private member's bill, Bill C-379, that called for the Bank Act to be amended to ensure 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 mnister, contacted me with an interest in sponsoring my bill in the Senate.

Fortunately, and full credit to the Liberal government, they essentially included the spirit of my bill in their 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 member's 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 bankruptcy trustee an 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 will prevent in much the same way Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) and Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF) are protected now.

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

I will continue to solicit input from industry, citizens and Parliamentarians over the summer recess.

To that end, my question this week:

  • Are you supportive of Bill-410, which proposes 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?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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