April 24, 2023 at 2:00 PM
The GIDIP Board of Trustees has been made aware of a petition that was sent to Unifor National a few weeks ago. The Air Canada Bargaining Committee has reached out to us and asked us to gather some pertinent information in order to clarify some of the questions and issues it contained. Here is what we would like to clarify:
The GIDIP Plan has been with Manulife Insurance since 2010. Over the past 10 years, the plan has provided $57 million in benefits to more than 5,000 of our brothers and sisters. The Premium contributions received during this same period were approximately $60 million, and at present, the plan has accumulated $3.2 million in reserves.
The current reserve is sufficient to provide members on disability 5 months of benefit coverage in the event of a work stoppage.
For a group or plan such as ours, given the number of members, we need to have an accumulated reserve of approx. $6.5 million in order to cover 1 year of benefit and not 5 months of work stoppage. This amount represents 2 years of member premium contributions.
The main purposes or uses of this reserve are for the following:
Provide support to ensure that your premiums will continue to be paid in the event of a work stoppage for any reasons. Without payroll deductions coverage for your benefits would cease.
The GIDIP reserve can (and has) been used in the past to offset any rate increases required by the insurer. This is really a ‘safety net’ that is used to maintain stability for the plan. The alternative would require members to increase their contributions from time to time during the years of high claim periods. Due to the reserve, this has resulted in no change to your contributions in the plan since the year 2010. It is anticipated there will be no changes to an increase in contribution rates for the foreseeable future.
Layoffs (caused by COVID-19) greatly impacted our members. For example, the Trustees were able to extend coverage for all members for three months, whether on layoff or not, and premium coverage was funded out of this reserve.
The Plan also receives an Employment Insurance rebate (refund) that we qualify for because we have the EI weeks during our STD process. Using this rebate, the Trustees were able to set up a Health Spending Account for close to 8 -ears offering money back to members for non taxable benefits. This is offered every 2 years at an amount [now] of $300 for each full-time member / $150 for each part time member being offered this year (2023). The cost of offering this program will be approximately $1.5 million.
Our members should be aware the GIDIP Board of Trustees are all working members of the Local like yourselves and are Air Canada employees who are volunteering their time as ‘Trustees’ of the GIDIP Plan. They are not paid for their efforts in supporting our membership in their role as a GIDIP Trustee. They are appointed by the Unifor Local 2002 Executive Board and have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure the GIDIP Plan is viable.
The Trustees are required to attend educational seminars in order to be trained to understand the insurance industry. As part of their role, the Trustee must obtain a certificate of competence.
The educational seminar is provided by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP). The IFEBP is a non-profit organization, which is set up to establish best practices for Union Trusts and their Trustees.
The Trustees do not control where the conferences are held. As such, this past year the conference was held in New Orleans where over 1,300 Canadian Union Trustees and Plan Sponsors from every Union sector across Canada (i.e. Service, Industrial and Construction Unions along with many Public Sector Unions) were present.
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The following items were not part of the petition, but have been raised by our membership at some point in time. The trustees would like to address these items as follows:
The Trustees have directed our Union Benefits Advisor to review this situation as some other Unions do provide coverage for working members over age 65. It can be an expensive benefit as you may imagine. As we currently know, members over age 55 utilize the plan at a much greater rate, (45%) more than our younger members. If benefits were made available for members over age 65, and claims were relative to the 45% as above, it may present some financial hardship for many of our younger members.
Below is the information the GIDIP Board of Trustees had sent to the Unifor Executive Board from October 2019 to cost the premiums for members over 65.
The total combined increase for STD and LTD would be:
Extend the GIDIP Termination of Coverage and Maximum Benefit Period to age 67.
This will result in an increase of +16.8% (this would represent an increase of approximately $13.31 to the Memberships
Extend the GIDIP Termination of Coverage and Maximum Benefit Period to age 70.
This will result in an increase of 39.4% (this would represent an increase of approximately $31.22 to the Membership
Lead Agents member premiums deductions are off the base pay just like all other members in the Plan and has been like this since its inception. Premiums deducted do not cover premium top-up, overtime, lump sums, incentive pay out and any other top up afforded to our members.
Under the Positive Pay process implemented by Air Canada, Members are deducted GIDIP premiums based on their actual hours worked. This means our members who shift-trade would only be deducted premiums for the lesser hours worked, while our members who pick up a shift-trade would be deducted premiums on the total hours worked and not their bid line shift. This provides an inequitable situation for our membership as a member picking up shifts are charged premiums on the full hours they work, but do not get paid disability benefits based on these full hours. The reason for this [currently] is the way the employer accords ‘Positive Pay’ through the payroll system similar to the Lead Agents. We see the collection of premiums through the payroll system as a labour relations issue that will be discussed during the next round of collective bargaining.
Due to recent changes in EI legislation, the Trustees have made amendments to the plan as follows:
|STD Phase I
|STD Phase II
||After 52 weeks
||After 73 weeks
Because of these changes in legislation, as well as the Trustees making amendments to the plan, approximately 50% of new claimants (members whose disability lasts longer than 15 weeks) in 2023 members will receive an additional 21 weeks of non-taxable benefits.
This benefit improvement will not result in any change or increase of GIDIP contributions.
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MARKETING OF THE GIDIP PLAN
The Trustees have instructed the Plan Administrator to market the plan to ensure that the fees paid are competitive, as part of due diligence in the discharge of their fiduciary responsibilities under the plan. While this process may result in some savings to the plan, given that overall 95% of member contributions received have been paid out in benefits and tax, the potential savings that a member would be likely to see as a result would be very minimal, if any.
Members should also be aware that the premium contributions for our GIDIP Plan of 3.54% have been the same premium contributions since 2010, there have been no increases. This is not to be confused with salary increases, which once your base pay increases then premium deductions of 3.542% would reflect that, as it would for the union dues, etc.
IN CASE OF SUSPECTED FRAUD
Unfortunately, benefit fraud hurts us all. You can be part of the solution. If you suspect benefit fraud, please fill out the form in the link provided with the Insurer:
Manulife will keep this information totally confidential and use it only for investigative purposes.
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The GIDIP Trustees hope that you will find the information provided useful and we strongly recommend that you attend the meetings we have planned in your location. We would be pleased to answer all your questions in person.
On a regular basis, we publish and distribute our "DISA BULLETIN" which contains an abundance of information concerning the plan. You can find all our bulletins on the Local website.
Your GIDIP Board of Trustees
Ross McConkey - Pacific Region
Astrid Metzler - Western Region
Terry Carlucci - Central Region
Sophia Michailidis - Eastern Region
Martin Melanson - Atlantic Region
/23-04-24 GIDIP bulletin for all GIDIP users EN.txt