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".
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.
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.
LifeSpeak Breathe - Yoga to Energize
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.
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.
(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.
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.”
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
Enter the name or DIN number of your drug, then select who the drug is for on your plan.
A few tips
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.
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.
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
Pension Credit Earned
|1.4%||1.4% of $60,000||$ 840|
|1.85%||1.85% of $60,000||$ 1,110|
|1.625%||1.625% of $60,000||
|2022||1.85%||1.85% of $60,000||
|2023||1.4%||1.4% of $60,000||
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.
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
Can I opt-out of the United Church Health & Dental Plan?
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 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.
A letter from the General Secretary, Michael Blair, was sent to all retirees on November 22, 2021 that outlined recent discussions and decisions about benefits for retirees of the United Church. You can review the General Secretary's letter here.
If you are a retired member of the United Church and did not receive this communication by email or Canada Post, please contact UCCBenefitsNews@united-church.ca to provide your current information so we can update our records.