Postmedia benefits changes include closure of DB pension, EAP

Postmedia Network Canada Corp. is making a number of changes to its defined benefit pension plan, its capital accumulation plans and its benefits plans, according to a document from the newspaper company’s human resources department.

Only non-unionized employees — approximately 71 per cent of the workforce — were affected. 

The organization is closing its defined benefit pension plan to future accrual as of August 2017. Instead, employees can join a defined contribution plan in which the company matches contributions up to three per cent of earnings. Postmedia is also closing its other capital accumulation plans, which include a registered retirement savings plan and a deferred profit-sharing plan, and employees participating in those savings vehicles will be eligible to move into the defined contribution plan.

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According to spokesperson Phyllise Gelfand, Postmedia ran “several” defined benefit plans that were closed to new employees between 2010 and 2015. Three defined benefit plans inherited from Sun Media, which Postmedia bought in April 2015, remain open to unionized employees only.

There are 53 separate collective agreements across our operations with various different dates,” Gelfand wrote in an email to Benefits Canada. ”With respect to the HR program rationalization for unionized employees, timing and program details will be discussed in contract negotiations.”

As of September 2017, employees will have access to company-paid life insurance in which beneficiaries would receive one or two times their salary, employee-paid long-term disability, and optional accidental death and dismemberment insurance and optional, additional life insurance for both employees, their spouses and their children.

The company will pay for extended health benefits, including 80 per cent of prescription drug costs. Employees will be responsible for the remaining 20 per cent, plus a $6 deductible per prescription. The company is also implementing a customized formulary based on lowest-price generic equivalent. If employees want brand name medications, they’ll have to pay the difference. The plan also requires prior authorization for specialty or high-cost drugs, including medications treating asthma, cancer, chronic hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis.

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Postmedia will cover up to $300 per year for each of massage, chiropractor, podiatrist, naturopath and speech therapist services. It will also include $500 annual reimbursement for physiotherapy, $300 every two years for vision care, and $300 combined for psychologist and social worker services.

The company is cutting its mental-health treatment by cancelling its employee assistance program as of April 30, 2017. “There will be a transition plan for any employees currently receiving services through the existing program,” the document reads. Gelfand pointed out, however, that not all employees previously had access to the program, and all staff members will have access to some psychologist or social worker services through the new plan.

The company will no longer offer benefits for future retirees, though current retirees are not affected, and maternity and parental leave top-up payments will be cancelled as of Aug. 31, 2017.

In her email, Gelfand said she didn’t know how much money the cuts would save.

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Note: This story was updated on March 14, 2017, at 11:50 a.m. to add comments from Gelfand. It was also updated at 1:15 p.m. with additional clarifications.