The purpose of this communique is to provide an update on three issues on which representatives of the CBC Pensioners National Association (PNA) have worked in recent weeks:
- Improved relations with CBC/Radio-Canada;
- Sharing the surplus of the Pension Fund;
- Post-retirement spouses.
Some files are moving forward as a result of our interventions, and we will keep putting pressure on the Corporation as we continue to defend your interests.
Relationship with CBC
The July 25 communiqué talked about the meeting that our Vice-President Anglophone, Dave Jeffrey and I had with Catherine Tait, President of the CBC. It was the PNA’s first meeting with the CBC presidency. Ms. Tait had agreed to meet with our Board of Directors in Ottawa in early October, but to our disappointment, she has had to withdraw because of other priorities. We are looking for a new date.
This meeting was followed in mid-August by a virtual meeting with the Executive Vice President of English networks, Barbara Williams. Dave Jeffrey attended, accompanied by Gerry Head and Raj Narain, respectively Ontario Region President and Vice President. The purpose of this meeting was to introduce the PNA and to foster the type of cooperation that we have with the French services.
On August 24, I had a meeting with Vice-President People and Culture, Marco Dubé to discuss the follow-up to these two meetings. I am happy to confirm that some files are progressing:
- Pre-retirement seminars and access to CBC premises across the country: I sent a description of the content, frequency and format of the pre-retirement seminars and of the existing collaboration between Radio-Canada and l’Association québécoise des retraités, emphasizing that this would also help in the recruitment of the PNA.
As for access to CBC premises across the country, Mr. Dubé recommends that it be requested locally. If necessary, the Executive Vice President could intervene.
- iO page: There is a follow up to ensure a PNA’s presence on the iO page of the CBC’s website.
- Special Assistance Fund (SAF): CBC has entrusted the administration of the Special Assistance Fund program to Canada Life (formerly Great-West). The lack of training of Canada Life staff is creating issues, both for retirees who want to submit a request and for the staff of our national office who can no longer help them as in the past because of the lack of information. Marco Dubé will follow up on this point.
Sharing the Pension Fund Surplus
CBC did not accept our proposal to proceed with the sharing of the 2021 surplus of the Pension Fund without prejudice to the position of the Corporation in the dispute between it, the PNA, and the Unions as to the validity of the 2009 agreement on such sharing. The CBC is taking refuge behind the fact that the case is currently in arbitration to justify refusing any suggestion from us.
We will therefore have to wait for the decision of Judge Dennis O’Connor. That decision could be a few months away though. We have decided to present one last witness on behalf of the PNA, who will talk about the process of reviewing the agreement. The arbitration sessions resume this week, on September 8, 9 and 19 and October 12.
We had hoped that this would bring the arbitration process to a conclusion, but a recent turn of events could prolong it: the Syndicat des travailleuses et travailleurs de Radio-Canada (STTRC), which did not sign the agreement in 2009 but now wants to be part of it, has decided belatedly to have its own legal representation in the case. This could delay the arbitration further. Stay tuned for more updates.
Meanwhile, it seems that the Pension Fund is headed for another surplus this year, which could mean another contribution holiday for the CBC. The Pension Plan Board of Trustees will examine the second 2022 quarterly report on September 14 and 15, prior to its being made public.
Be assured that we will keep you informed of any news as we know this file is of great interest to our members during this period of unusually high inflation.
Post-retirement spouses or after age 60
Our colleagues Maurice Gill and Rick Inglis have been working on this file for a long time: they have assembled a vast coalition of members and remain the co-presidents.
The subject resurfaced in recent months with regard to the military (i.e. about the law which unfairly deprives the surviving spouse of a pension if the relationship started after the pensioner reached age 60). First, there was the presentation made last spring by Maurice Gill before the Parliamentary Committee on Veterans Affairs. More recently, the influential Hill Times published a lengthy article on the Liberal government’s failings regarding the situation of the military.
In our case, Maurice and Rick discovered that the sponsor of the pension fund (in this case CBC) could add the benefit of a pension to the survivor of a relationship that began after the spouse retired. After discussions and being aware that the timing is not favourable to such a request, our Executive Committee has decided to await the decision of the arbitrator in the dispute between the PNA and the unions at CBC, before deciding whether or not we will approach the Corporation about adding this benefit.
We will keep you informed of any new developments in any of these files.