The CBC is planning to change the way employees buy back pensionable service, such as time spent as a contract or temporary employee. At the moment there are about a dozen different provisions in the CBC Pension Plan for buying back past service. The variety and complexity of the buyback provisions are confusing, difficult to administer and difficult for employees to understand.
The CBC intends to replace all the buyback methods with a single approach that would see employees purchase service on an actuarial basis. Under the plan, employees who are in a buyback position would be told what their current entitlement is and what it would be under the new plan. People would be given a limited period to use their current buybacks or use the new process. The corporation plans to have the single process in place by January 2006.
While we support a simplified, single method, we were not impressed by the CBC’s refusal to say whether the new process would allow employees to buy back service that’s currently not allowed. For example, many Guild members have “ACTRA time” that they have not been allowed to utilize. The corporation says that decision will be made sometime soon, but its representatives at our March meeting could not provide more definite information. We urged them to clarify the situation quickly and put everyone on an equal footing.
Also on the pension front, members of the Group RRSP will see a change soon in the global equity fund offered. The Group RRSP is following the lead of the CBC Flex Plan in dropping the Laketon Global Equity fund because of long-term performance problems, and replacing it with the AIM Trimark fund. Members will be able to leave money already invested in the Laketon fund, but they won’t be able to make further contributions through the Group RRSP.
The CBC has been holding information sessions on both the Flex Plan and the Group RRSP. We think both are worthwhile programs that offer CBC employees competitive retirement investment options, yet the employee participation rate continues to lag. We encourage our members to have a look and see whether either plan might work for them.
The Guild and the Quebec/Moncton unions have agreed to modify the collective agreements to provide additional “paid-up” life insurance options for employees and retirees. In the past, employees or retirees received a taxable $4,000 life insurance policy at age 65. For some members, the income tax implications wiped out most of the small benefit. Now employees and retirees will have the option of accepting a $25,000 term insurance policy that runs until age 70 or refusing either benefit. In the long run, our goal is to provide a more meaningful benefit, but this is a start.
During our meeting, six requests for help from the health care special assistance fund were accepted. The fund is meant to help employees and pensioners with extraordinary health care costs that aren’t covered by any other private and public health care plan. More information on the fund can by obtained from CCSB members or Human Resources at CBC.
The March meeting was the first for three new CMG representatives on the CCSB. Carrie May, Ralph Legare and Philippe Bourbeau have joined Barbara Saxberg, Jon Soper and Dan Oldfield as regular members of the committee. CBC Branch President Arnold Amber also attended the March meetings. Our thanks and appreciation go to June Shafi and Joe Hill for their past work as members of the CCSB.