Cash-strapped government looking for money to help deal with their massive federal deficit.
Ottawa (29 June 2010) - The Harper government wants to raid a $177-million disability fund surplus to help deal with the federal deficit.
The government has four separate disability claim plans covering approximately 352,000 federal public employees.
Because of its need for cash, the government is proposing to give itself a premium holiday involving a long-term disability plan run by Sun Life Financial for unionized employees. Unions representing the employees are expected to resist the idea.
Sun Life has reserves in the plan estimated at $1.4 billion to cover current and future claims, which includes an estimated surplus of $177 million. The treasury board apparently feels that the surplus could be reduced to about $100 million. A three-month premium holiday would cut the surplus by an estimated $74 million.
The unions are arguing that if the surplus is larger than required it should be reduced by offering improved benefits rather than premium reductions.
The treasury board is proposing the premium holiday begin Jan. 1, followed by a 10% reduction in the premiums for both employer and employee on April 1. For most employees the savings would be only a couple of dollars a month on their pay cheques.
Disability claims in Canada are on the rise. Last year a total of 1,211 federal claims - 44% of the total - were related to mental health.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE