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CBC to permit buyback of ACTRA service for pensions

After years of effort by the Canadian Media Guild, the CBC has agreed to allow members of the pension plan who are former members of ACTRA to buy back time they served as
contract employees under the ACTRA collective agreements. The final details and timelines for approval have yet to be worked out, but here are the main points.
? Buyback will be based on actuarial cost.
? Only full-time service under ACTRA collective agreements can be bought back.
? The employee categories of work include Writer/Broadcaster, Researcher/Programmer, Sportscaster, Traffic Commentator, Researcher, Host and Co-host.
? Only service after May 31, 1980 can be bought back. That’s the date those workers were declared employees under the labour code.
? Work that was performed under freelance contracts (no deductions for Unemployment Insurance, income tax or Canada/Quebec Pension Plan) cannot be bought back
? Work performed as freelance contributions (commentaries, paks, documentaries, etc.) cannot be bought back.
? If the CBC doesn’t have copies of individual employment contracts, employees will have to provide their own copies to verify time worked. Affidavits won’t be accepted.

Other standard provisions of past service buybacks under the pension plan will apply. For example, only full months of service can be bought back.

The CBC is still working out whether the changes need formal approval by the board of directors, so we don’t know whether the change will come into effect this summer or in the fall. Keep an eye out for a formal announcement from the Corporation.

Also, the CBC doesn’t have an easy way of identifying who may have ACTRA time that now will be eligible, so it looks like it will be up to individual employees to apply to have their past service researched.

This has been a long time coming, but there still could be hurdles as people try to document their service. If the CBC doesn’t have copies of contracts, the CMG national office may be able to help, as it may have records that were passed over from ACTRA a decade ago.

We’re still pressuring the CBC to improve other pension eligibility provisions for permanent part-time employees. They have to wait two years to join the plan and then they cannot buy that first two years of service. While that’s the minimum provision under the federal pension legislation, the Guild thinks the CBC can do better and allow part-time employees to join the plan as soon as they are made permanent. As well, they should be able to buy back previous part-time service.

Update on group RRSP
According to a report at the CCSB, CBC employees had $27.4 million invested in the group RRSP last year. The overall return on investments for the year was 5.8%. That low figure reflects the proportion of money that’s invested in guaranteed investment accounts, the money market fund (which is designed for short-term investing) and the fixed income fund. It also appears many members who received refunds on pension contributions in 2000 have left that money in the more conservative funds, where returns are lower than average. Employee participation in the group RRSP remains much lower than we would like. We’d encourage all members to consider the group RRSP, with its payroll deductions, as an option for retirement income planning.

Steve Cotsman, chief executive officer of the CBC Pension Board, gave his annual presentation to the CCSB. He reviewed the performance of the plan in 2005 and brought members up to date on what’s been happening this year. We discussed the federal government’s budget announcement to provide some relief to plans that have a solvency deficit. The regulations are at the draft stage, so while the changes will help the CBC financially this year, the exact figures haven’t been determined.

Your CCSB committee members:
Philippe Bourbeau
Ralph Legare
Carrie May
Barbara Saxberg
Jon Soper
Gabi Durocher
Dan Oldfield

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