27 September 2023

CANADA: Officers suffer in insurance switch

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Two months after the Canadian Federal Government switched insurance providers, many Public Servants say they are seeing an increase in out-of-pocket expenses instead of better benefits coverage.

President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Chris Aylward said that since Canada Life took up the contract “there have been nothing but problems, including on-boarding people”.

On 1 July, an estimated 1.5 million Federal employees covered under the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) moved from Sun Life Financial to Canada Life Assurance Company.

The move, negotiated and announced last year, promised members better benefits and greater coverage for mental health services.

However, dozens of members have complained that since the switch, their claims are going unprocessed and their calls are going unanswered due to what has been described as overwhelmed call centres.

Public Servant, Michelle Favreau said she had called Canada Life dozens of times but had trouble getting anyone on the phone.

“We are paying for a service and we are not getting the service,” Ms Favreau said.

Canada Life said virtually all plan members had now enrolled and more than three million claims had been processed and paid.

However, the insurance provider acknowledged it continued to experience exceptionally high call volumes.

Spokesperson for Canada Life, Kim Foregtta said she appreciated the patience of Public Service plan members who were reaching out to the insurance provider.

“Our dedicated team is answering 25,000 contacts a week and with the actions we’ve taken to address call volumes, we expect to see a return to normal in the coming weeks,” Ms Foregtta said.

However, Mr Aylward (pictured) estimated there could be tens of thousands of members experiencing problems with enrolment and claim reimbursement.

“It’s very frustrating. They didn’t do it right and now members are suffering because of that,’ Mr Aylward said.

Meanwhile, the union representing 11,000 Public Servants in the Province of Manitoba is planning a strike vote after negotiations appear to have stalled on a new contract.

The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union said the Government had offered wage increases of two per cent each year for four years.

The union’s bargaining committee said this was not enough to keep up with inflation.

Ottawa, 1 September 2023

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