We had a relatively quiet September meeting of the Consultative Committee on Staff Benefits (CCSB) with no major changes to announce for our various benefit plans, but we did get a briefing on a new way for filing health claims to Great West Life. Before the end of the year, we’ll be able to file most of our claims online. That will include prescription drugs and visits to paramedical professionals such as chiropractors and psychologists. GWL says the online filing will result in faster processing of claims and payments. People will have to sign up for the service and have payments made by direct deposit. The company estimates about 30 per cent of claims still will have to be submitted by mail. CBC employees also will have the option of submitting paper claims, if that’s what they want to do. You’ll be getting lots more detailed information on the new claims process as GWL gets ready to roll it out, possibly as soon as November.
The CCSB has agreed to help pay for this year’s influenza vaccination program. Using a fund that we control on behalf of employees and pensioners, we will pay half the cost of delivering the vaccine program up to a maximum of $25,000. There was no CBC seasonal flu vaccine program last year because of the H1N1 outbreak, but in 2008 about 2,700 of CBC employees availed of the program in the workplace. While we’re helping with the cost this year, we believe the CBC should be budgeting for the vaccination program itself because of the positive impact in has on reducing the cost of sick leave and creating a healthier workplace.
We had hoped to report progress on getting the CBC to allow employees to buy back all their temporary or contract service under the pension plan. As it now stands, people can’t buy back their first two years of that service and we think that’s wrong. The corporation has shown a willingness to make the changes but won’t do it now because it would increase costs for the pension plan. Your union representatives echoed the frustrations that we hear from members across the country with the lack of progress. We’ll be reviewing our options for moving ahead on the grievance/arbitration front if this continues.
We can confirm that the premiums for the optional group life insurance coverage will be going down by 20 per cent for the next two years. There was a surplus in the plan so earlier this year the CCSB approved a six-month premium holiday. When people who are in the plan begin making payments again in November, the rate will be 20 per cent less than before.
Your representatives at the September CCSB: