At the most recent meeting of the Consultative Committee on Staff Benefits, our union representatives voted to continue premium subsidies for employee-paid benefits such as our Long-Term Disability (LTD) and Optional Life Insurance plans.
These insurance plans have accumulated surpluses over the years and the CCSB has been applying those surpluses to reduce the deductions on your biweekly pay. At the same time, we must ensure that the insurance plans are fully funded just in case we have a larger than expected number of claims to cover.
For LTD we will continue the 0.266% subsidy so that the deduction is 1.234% rather than the full 1.5% negotiated with Great West Life. We will review the numbers again next year to see whether the premium subsidy can be extended.
We also have allocated money from surplus funds to continue our practice of providing cost of living adjustments for members on LTD who are not automatically covered for inflation. That amount was 1.5% on January 1, 2017.
And we have approved a 60% premium subsidy for the optional life insurance plans that are available to CBC employees. The lower rate will be applied over the next three years, but we will review the figures annually.
Unions oppose arbitrary increases to employee contributions to the CBC Pension plan
At the May meeting, we were provided with updates on the performance of the CBC Pension Plan during 2016 and our Group RRSP, which is through Great West Life. Both pension plans continue to perform well. We encourage members of the CBC Pension Plan to review the annual report summary that is provided to everyone. Any members who are interested in contributing to an RRSP should have a look to see if what’s offered through our group plan might meet their needs. The fees are lower than you’ll find at most financial institutions.
The CBC informed the CCSB that it intends to implement the final phase of increasing employee contributions to the CBC Pension Plan so that they are split 50/50 between the employer and employees. All the unions at the CBC have opposed these arbitrary increases and we have filed a grievance to have the increases overturned.
Other evolving workplace issues
Several other workplace issues are also on the radar at the CCSB, including coverage of medical marijuana prescriptions and the federal government’s plans for extending parental leave.
A potentially precedent-setting case has emerged from Nova Scotia. This winter: the province’s Human Rights tribunal ruled in favour of a worker who claimed his insurer’s refusal to cover the cost of legitimately prescribed medical marijuana was discriminatory. That decision has been appealed but we will be watching the outcome closely because so far employers such as the CBC have refused to cover the cost of medical marijuana, in large part because Health Canada still does not recognize it as a prescription drug.
We’re also keeping watch on the federal government’s proposal to extend parental and maternity leave provisions to 18 months and the impact that will have on our members’ benefits under the collective agreement. The legislation is still before Parliament and the regulations haven’t been released, so the CBC says it is waiting for direction from the federal government on how the changes will be implemented. So are we, and we will do what we can to ensure members’ rights are properly protected.
CMG representatives at the May 30 CCSB: