Ontario launches consultation on benefits plan pooling

The Ontario government has launched a consultation on adopting benefits pooling for broader public sector employees.

In previous discussions, both public sector employers and bargaining agents expressed interest in looking at centralized benefits pooling, according to a news release. The government said public sector compensation represents about half of all government spending, at a total cost of $72 billion, and estimates the move to benefits pooling could generate $115 million in savings.

Read: Health pooling: is there a better way?

“We have consulted with the broader public sector in good faith and have considered all ideas that have been put on the table,” said Treasury Board president Peter Bethlefalvy. “The government is working collaboratively with employers and bargaining agents to protect frontline services, public sector jobs and make Ontario fiscally sustainable.”

Currently, Ontario has a benefits pooling arrangement with more than a dozen broader public sector employers.

Suzanne Lepage, a private health plan strategist, says the government could see the most savings from big-ticket benefits plan items such as its drug plans, out-of-country coverage and private duty nursing.

“Pooling allows organizations to share the risk or spread the risk over a bigger group, and so in doing that . . . it basically allows everyone to share in the cost and it, overall, can diminish the impact of high-cost drugs,” she says.

Read: Canadian group benefits costs expected to grow 6% in 2020: report