A report from the CCSB, June 2005
The problems with the health of CBC employees were highlighted again this month as the Consultative Committee on Staff Benefits met in Ottawa. We reviewed our Long Term Disability plan and found the number of employees off on LTD continues to rise. As of April 30, a total of 311 people were drawing LTD benefits. That’s a record high.
With that many employees depending on LTD, the financial condition of the plan has deteriorated, so the CCSB has agreed to a small increase in premiums. When our policy with Great West Life is renewed on Oct. 1, 2005, employees will see their premiums go from 1.6 per cent of pay to 1.7 per cent of pay. For someone earning $50,000 a year that will be approximately $2 each pay period.
On a positive note, we are renewing our optional accidental death and dismemberment policy with no increase in premiums.
During the June meeting, Steve Cotsman, the managing director of the CBC Pension Board, briefed members on last year’s performance of the plan and the highlights of activities this year. While the plan continues to be in sound financial condition, the continuing low interest rate environment is driving up the costs of providing benefits. This year the pension board is reviewing its asset mix and investment strategies. At the end of 2005, the plan will go through its regular three-year valuation to determine what the appropriate rate of funding should be.
The CBC’s board of directors has approved amendments to the pension plan that will streamline the dozen existing provisions for buying back past service. As of January 2006 there will be one method of buying back service. The CBC will be informing people of this change fairly soon. In the fall, people can request quotes on how much it would cost to buy back service under their current arrangement and how much it will cost under the new approach. Pay close attention to the notices: in some cases the new “actuarial” cost will be higher than the existing method. With a single buyback option available, we have been strongly urging the CBC to extend the plan to allow people to buy back their “ACTRA” time. We expect news on this within the next short while.
We also were updated on the CBC’s group RRSP. While 3,200 CBC employees have accounts in the group RRSP, only about 300 actively participate by making regular payroll contributions. There are eight different funds to choose from in the group RRSP. The rates of return vary depending on the type of investment, but last year the average return for the entire plan was just over six per cent. If you’re interested in regularly contributing to an RRSP through payroll deductions, the plan definitely is worth checking out.