Parliamentarians and PIPSC leaders grill Treasury Board and Canada Life Officials on the botched transition to Canada Life

Following over two decades with Sunlife as a service provider, the Government of Canada awarded Canada Life Assurance Company (Canada Life) the contract to administer the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP). 

Following an 18-month preparatory period, this change went live on July 1, 2023. The transition has been chaotic and poorly executed – leaving public servants having to navigate major hurdles in order to access their benefits.

Our members’ concerns about this handover were on full display both at the Parliamentary Committee and the PSHCP Partners Committees this month.  

At a December 7th hearing on Parliament Hill, members of the opposition raised the failure to adequately plan and implement the updated PSHCP with senior leadership at both Canada Life and Treasury Board Secretariat. It was clear that opposition parliamentarians have been paying attention to the ongoing advocacy of federal unions and the Retirees' Association with respect to the handover. 

While improvements to customer service wait times were noted, officials could not explain why Canada Life did not take common sense measures in advance of the handover. They also could not address Canada Life's lack of understanding of the basics of healthcare practices, insurance policies, or administrative best practices.  

Treasury Board officials remained tight-lipped on the reasons why Canada Life failed to anticipate and solve the many challenges now being faced by plan members during the year-and-half before the changeover occurred. 

On December 19th – at a subsequent meeting of the PSHCP Partners Committee – PIPSC President Jennifer Carr reiterated these concerns to these same Treasury Board officials and senior leadership of Canada Life. While both parties have taken meaningful actions to improve plan member experience, PIPSC and our partners from other unions and the National Association of Federal Retirees are still waiting to see true accountability for Canada Life's egregious lack of planning. We continue to work with the Treasury Board to share with them best practices for health benefits.

PIPSC has published a comprehensive member guide on the updated plan. This guide includes information on how to navigate some of the more complex plan changes, how to challenge Canada Life decisions, and how to benefit from 90 percent drug coverage through our ServicePlus partner pharmacy, Mednow.

PIPSC, other bargaining agents, and the Retirees' Association continue to pressure the Treasury Board to demand better of Canada Life. This is not the level of service we expect or were promised. We thank our members for their ongoing patience through this frustrating transition and are taking measures to protect your interests.