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June 2, 2022

Building positive self-esteem in children

LifeSpeak

Developing a child’s self-esteem begins with the parents, or guardians, at a very young age. We have to remember that every child is different, but to try and build positive self-esteem, children require lots of moments to explore, learn, and feel accepted and loved. This month, LifeSpeak’s expert will give you tips to support self-esteem in kids and parents.

On June 22 at 12:00 p.m. ET the Ask the Expert web chat by Marni Amsellem addresses how to find the balance between work and life.

Check out your LifeSpeak platform now! Log in using the Group Account option. The password is "wellness".

WorkHealthLife

Raising a family is a full-time job – and most of us work a full-time position on top of that! WorkHealthLife have great sections on parenting, child care, and child development and learning. Check out some of their articles on:

Family Support is also available through the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). Consultants will work with you to address your specific concern or question by conducting research on locations, availability, fees and more for a wide range of services for your family including:

  • Daycare centres and after-school programs
  • Schools, educational services and special needs programs
  • Parenting classes
  • Emergency home care services
  • Adoption and multiple birth services
  • Expectant and new parenting

You can get started online or call 1-844-671-3327.

UCRD

Learn about raising a family with Susan Lukey’s Adventures in Faith and Family that offers practical, intelligent, loving, spirit-filled wisdom rooted in the joy and deep love of faith as well as developmental psychology. This book is for anyone looking for a friend who will guide them with faith as they pursue their own adventure of being a family.

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LifeSpeak Tip sheet - Self-Esteem in Kids and Parents

LifeSpeak Tip sheet - Bullying 101

Video - Teens, pre-teens, and loneliness

May 25, 2022

Pensioner payroll change to LifeWorks

An initial communication from the Benefits Centre was mailed the week of May 23, informing pensioners of the upcoming change to how pension payments are processed. One important thing to note is that there is nothing for you, as a pensioner, to do on your end. More information about the change will be mailed in June providing contact details.

A copy of the letter is posted on the Retirement page, under Communications. If you have not received this communication by the end of the month, please e-mail pension@united-church.ca or phone the Benefits Centre at 1-855-647-8222 to ensure they have the correct address on file.

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May is Mental Health Month: Care for yourself and others with expert support

LifeSpeak

The past couple years have been like nothing we’ve ever experienced, and new challenges are constantly emerging. Many of us are running on empty and only beginning to regain emotional balance. We need to take care of ourselves, and also remember to be empathetic to the struggles of those around us.

The month of May marks the start of Mental Health Month. To help you support yourself and your loved ones, LifeSpeak’s resources on empathy, supporting coworkers and diverse communities, developing resilience and more are available. Their experts will highlight the topics of depression, stress and sleep and stress at work.

On May 25 at 12:00 p.m. ET the Ask the Expert web chat by Jennifer Mervyn addresses how to Include Mental Health in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion* Conversation

Check out your LifeSpeak platform now! Log in using the Group Account option. The password is "wellness".

*The United Church of Canada uses the language "Disability, Accessibility and Inclusion". 

LifeWorks:

Canada’s Mental Health Week took place from May 2-8. To mark the occasion, LifeWorks launched a new microsite The Ambiguous Side of Mental Health. Filled with free resources, the microsite explores the subtle signs that mental health is declining, leading to adverse effects at home and work, and ways to improve your mental wellbeing.

Coming soon: Join LifeWorks as they connect with people sharing their stories of resilience, interview experts and delve into topics that matter most — like Finding Self-Worth, LGBTQ+ Wellbeing and Allyship and Combatting Depression. Click here for a sneak peek.

Building Resilience in Uncertain Times: this pre-recorded session reviews how feeling like having little or no control during difficult events is normal, and how coping mechanisms can help manage these stressful situations.

UCRD

Learn how to use your faith as a guide through uncertain times in Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark at the United Church Bookstore. Through this book Taylor is your guide through a spirituality of the nighttime, teaching you how to find your footing in times of uncertainty and giving you strength and hope to face all of life’s challenging moments.

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May 10, 2022

Benefits Canada: A look at the Pension Plan of The United Church of Canada's efforts to be a good shepherd of capital

Derek Hurst, Pension Fund Manager, was interviewed by Benefits Canada about The United Church of Canada Pension Plan.

“Our governance structure is quite robust. I report to an 11-person investment committee which reports to a 11-person pension board,” says Hurst, who’s been overseeing the decisions of the $1.6 billion defined benefit plan since 2015. “Additionally, there’s an advisory committee with eight volunteers. The calibre of these volunteers is very high — it’s incredible to me that we get people so interested in helping the plan.”

Read the full article by Gideon Scanlon here.

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May 9, 2022

New Pension Board Chair

At its meeting on April 30, 2022, the Executive of the General Council approved the appointment of Anne Soh, FSA, FCIA as the next chair of the Pension Board. Anne served on the Pension Plan Advisory Committee since 2011, assuming the chair from November 2013 to December 2020. Anne was then appointed to the Pension Board.

Anne Soh is Vice President and Plan Actuary at the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS). An executive with over 30 years of experience in the pension and benefits industry, Anne advises the OMERS boards of directors on plan funding and sustainability matters, and oversees the in-house actuarial department. Anne also serves on the Board of Directors and the Finance and Audit Committee of Canada’s National Ballet School. Anne is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and has an Hons. Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Western Ontario. She is also a graduate of the ICD – Rotman Director Education Program.

Anne’s term as Pension Board chair will begin after the June 2022 meeting of the Board where Marcus Robertson, FSA, FCIA will complete his third and final term as chair. The General Council Executive wishes to thank Marcus for his nine years of diligent leadership.

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May 5, 2022

Diversity and Inclusion Shareholder Win!

Constellation Software Shareholder Proposal Approved

(Toronto) The Pension Plan of The United Church of Canada filed a shareholder proposal with Constellation Software urging the company to improve their DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) practices.  The proposal requested the preparation of a report on the company’s plans to identify, address, mitigate, and dismantle racial disparities within its workforce.  Despite the Board of Constellation Software recommending that shareholders vote against the resolution, shareholders approved it!

The United Church of Canada Pension Plan is very proud of this outcome.  In concert with SHARE, we will follow up with the company in the coming months to ensure it issues a report and to review its content and goals.  Marcus Robertson, Chair of the Pension Board commented, “This is great news, and demonstrates the effectiveness of ongoing engagement on diversity and inclusion issues with invested companies.”

SHARE commented, “We are pleased that a majority of Constellation Software Inc. shareholders have voted to adopt our shareholder proposal, filed on behalf of The United Church of Canada Pension Plan to undertake a thorough review of racial equity at the company and report publicly to investors on findings. This is a crucial step for the company, which has previously taken very limited measures to address diversity, equity and inclusion. The majority vote from shareholders sends a strong signal to Canadian issuers about the growing expectations of institutional investors on racial equity. The company announced that the proposal had passed during the AGM.”

For information, Constellation Software is a leading provider of software and services to a select group of public and private sector markets. They acquire, manage and build industry specific software businesses which provide specialized, mission-critical software solution.  The Pension Plan’s current investment in the company is $2 million, and market value of the company is approximately $42 billion.

SHARE's full press release can be found here.

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April 25, 2022

PocketPills and Green Shield Canada’s Managed Formulary

PocketPills is an online pharmacy service that can help manage your medications and the cost of your prescriptions. This is an optional offering that you may select. Through PocketPills both employers and employees of our plan will see significant savings. With lower costs per prescription, claims amounts will be reduced, resulting in lower out of pocket expense for plan members, better claims experience, and possible future premiums cost-savings for employers.

All drugs newly approved in the Canadian market are evaluated by a Green Shield Canada (GSC) committee of pharmacy experts before being added to the formulary for reimbursement. Drugs are assigned to one of three categories: “covered,” “not covered,” or “prior authorization required.”

  • Covered drugs are full benefits of the plan.
  • Not covered status are drugs that provide no additional therapeutic value over those already listed in the formulary or no cost advantage when compared to existing alternatives.
    • Plan member may pay the full drug cost or consult their prescribing physician about alternatives.
  • Prior authorization required is assigned to drugs considered a second-line therapy or are high-cost specialty drugs with potential for inappropriate prescribing and use.
    • Plan member must meet specific criteria to access benefits; first-line therapy must appear in claims history for auto-approval and/or the prescribing physician completes a special authorization form indicating therapeutic need.

This type of formulary management balances the need of plan members to have access to medically necessary drug therapies with plan sustainability. Consult with GSC for more detailed or specific information. More information on drug coverage can be found in the Benefits for Active Members: Summary of Coverage located in the Document Library.

For prior authorization drugs, PocketPills pharmacists would not be able to dispense the medication. It would get flagged at adjudication, at which point the pharmacist would reach out to you to discuss and identify whether you are eligible or not―therefore, no surprises for you! Just a reminder, if you had an existing prescription that was covered by Green Shield Canada prior to January 1, 2022, your drug has been grandparented in to the Active plan. Only new drugs prescribed after January 1, 2022, are subject to the managed formulary criteria.

It is important to check the Plan Member Online tool offered by GSC to find out whether your drug is covered or will need prior authorization. It can be found under the “Your Health Benefits” heading, then select the “Drug” tile. You’ll be able to find out

  • whether a drug is covered under your drug plan
  • if you will need to pay a copayment (and if so, how much)
  • if the drug needs a physician’s authorization (and if so, whether your doctor can print the authorization form directly)

Enter the name or DIN number of your drug, then select who the drug is for on your plan.

A few tips

  • Drug Name: you must enter at least the first three letters of the drug name. For example, if you enter “Tyl” for Tylenol, then all drug names that begin with “Tyl” will be displayed.
  • DIN: to search by DIN, the full DIN must be entered for the search tool to display the drug.
  • Select Participant: some drugs have use restrictions based on things like your age. This is why the tool will ask who the drug is for under your plan.

To access the tool, you will have to register for an account with GSC everywhere. If you had an account on the previous site, you can log in with exactly the same username and password you used. If you haven’t registered, this video guide walks you through the registration process.

You can also call the Green Shield call centre and check with an agent: 1-888-711-1119.

If you have any questions or want to learn more, please e-mail Benefits@united-church.ca.

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March 1, 2022

Pension Increase Effective January 1, 2022

Good news! As announced in a recent letter from Pension Board Chair, Marcus Robertson, pension plan members will receive a pension increase effective January 1, 2022.

Pensioners and Deferred Members
Current pensioners and deferred members will receive a 4 percent* increase to their pension amount effective January 1, 2022.

* The Income Tax Act and regulations limit pension increases to the cumulative growth in Consumer Price Index since the pension commenced. For this reason, recently retired pensioners and deferred members who terminated employment recently will see a lesser increase.

Active Members
For active members, the accrual rate will increase to 1.85 percent in 2022 from the base rate of 1.4 percent. In 2023 the accrual rate is scheduled to return to 1.4 percent.

What Does “Accrual Rate” Mean?
The accrual rate is the rate at which you earn your pension. In 2019, you earn your pension at the rate of 1.4 percent of your pensionable earnings.

How Does This Work?
You earn a piece of pension every year that you work and contribute to the plan—like building blocks.

For example, let’s assume that a member’s pensionable earnings stayed constant at $60,000 every year, (for easy figuring). From 2019 to 2023, that member would earn

Year

Accrual Rate Formula

Pension Credit Earned

2019

1.4% 1.4% of $60,000 $   840

2020

1.85% 1.85% of $60,000 $  1,110

2021

1.625% 1.625% of $60,000

$    975

2022 1.85% 1.85% of $60,000

$  1,110

2023 1.4% 1.4% of $60,000

$   840

At the end of your career, the annual pension amounts earned each year will add up to the total annual pension you will receive every year for the rest of your life. So, the higher amount earned in 2022 will continue to benefit you for the rest of your retired life.

What about Future Increases?
There will be no automatic indexing or increase going forward. The Pension Board and Pension Plan Advisory Committee annually assess the resources available and determine whether there are surplus funds that can be used to increase benefits.

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January 27, 2022

Fact Sheet: Augmenting the Active Member Health and Dental Plan

Are you looking to augment the Active member health and dental plan? Here are a few things to consider:

The United Church plan, the United Church rates

  • Our plan’s premium is 100% employer paid. Your employer pays 7.77% of your pensionable earnings for the Active benefits plan, of which 5.96% is for health and dental coverage. These rates change annually and will be posted on the Pension and Benefits deductions page mid-December.
  • You do not have to complete medical or health questionnaires to enroll in our benefits plan.
  • We pay for expert advice to design and manage a plan for our members.
  • We do not pay commissions on insurance or services we purchase for the plan – this may not be true of third parties selling individual plans, including affinity groups.
  • The rates we charge reflect the anticipated costs of running the plans and there is no profit margin.

Other plans

  • Will include a profit margin and possibly commission.
  • Will not integrate with our plan. They will be designed to provide coverage where there is no employer sponsored coverage, and will essentially, in many cases, simply duplicate our plan’s coverage, not augment it.
    • For instance, our insurer (Green Shield Canada) can offer such individual supplemental plans but our analysis found them to represent poor value for money.
  • Some options offered in the market or by affinity groups are actually ‘conversion plans’ and are only available to people who lost coverage under their employer sponsored plan. Members who were previously enrolled in the “Optional Health & Dental Plan” did not lose health and dental coverage – access to the additional coverage afforded by the Optional plan was lost.

Can I opt-out of the United Church Health & Dental Plan?

  • Our plan does not allow waiver of coverage unless you have another privately sponsored plan from other employment or a spouse. (Please note, it does not save any premiums because core benefits are assessed as one benefit, fully paid by the employer.) Full participation is an integral part of the Active plan.
  • We offer a broad plan to provide benefits to our members that are affordable to employers while still protecting members against catastrophic hardship.
  • The Active plan is largely employer paid and includes a number of valuable benefits:
    • Employer Paid
      • Health and Dental Coverage
      • Life insurance
      • Dependent Life Insurance
      • Accidental Death & Dismemberment
      • Employee and Family Assistance Plan
      • Restorative Care Plan
    • Employee Paid
      • Long Term Disability Plan (employee paid is the common practice, allowing any benefits collected to be tax free)
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January 25, 2022

PocketPills

As Omicron cases continue to spread across the country, the health of you and your families is more important than ever. PocketPills, Canada’s leading digital pharmacy, can help you get the care you need from the comfort and safety of your own home by easily filling prescriptions online with fast, free delivery.

PocketPills, Canadian and Vancouver-based, is an online pharmacy service that can help manage your medications and the cost of your prescriptions. This is an optional offering that you may select.  Through PocketPills both employers and employees of our plan will see significant savings. With lower costs per prescription, claims amounts will be reduced, resulting in better claims experience and possible future premiums cost-savings.

PocketPills offers:

  • The convenience of filling your prescriptions from the comfort of your home
  • Your medication sorted by dose into easy-to-open packages (PocketPacks)
  • Coordinate with your doctor to renew your prescriptions so you have them on time
  • Fast and free medication delivery, contact-free, across Canada (some restrictions may apply)
  • Low $7 dispensing fee
  • Automatic refills and renewals
  • A team of pharmacists that you can call or text if you have questions
  • In British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario, you can access their Canadian telehealth network to consult a doctor - just make an appointment and get connected over the phone. Get or renew a prescription online from the comfort of home, and doctors are available 7 days a week. It is fully covered by your provincial health plan, all you need is a valid health card.

PocketPills is a fully optional program. Local pharmacies can be an important resource. If you are satisfied with your current pharmacy, you may continue filling your prescriptions there under the United Church plan.

To facilitate a better user experience, PocketPills is collaborating with Green Shield Canada to provide a streamlined and seamless experience for our members.

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