The federal government recently announced plans to introduce legislation in the fall expanding pension eligibility to frontline public safety and law enforcement workers in Canada.

The legislation is welcomed by the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Customs and Immigration Union after they’ve advocated for more than a decade for equitable retirement benefits for law enforcement employees at the Canada Border Services Agency, says Mark Weber, national president of the CIU.

Nearly all law enforcement and public safety workers — both provincially and municipally — receive “25 and out” early retirement benefits, with CBSA law enforcement officers among the few exceptions. “Our members deserve the same as everyone else in the industry, and we’re glad to see the federal government take note with the recent announcement around pension reform” he says. “Once passed, these legislative changes will allow CBSA officers to retire with dignity after 25 years of service, without any penalties.”

Read: Federal budget fails to support pension reform, says retiree group, politicians

The CBSA is dealing with employee attraction and retention issues, so better retirement benefits would go a long way to help in that area. “We have a hard time recruiting and retaining, so I think having equitable benefits with other law enforcement [organizations] would definitely help keep workers at the CBSA. Unfortunately, [with the way things currently are], many of our members do leave to work with other law enforcement agencies.”

After reviewing policy in the health-care industry, the Service Employees International Union Healthcare recently found nearly half of its home-care workers have no form of retirement benefits or security.

“For a number of years, we’ve been trying to negotiate those benefits with minimal success,” says Tyler Downey, secretary treasurer at the SEIU. “Even as we’re experiencing a human resources crisis, employers are still not willing to see this as a benefit. But we have been able to make gains here and there [and this legislation sounds promising].”

Read: Nearly half of U.S. SMEs offering retirement savings plans to boost attraction, retention efforts: survey

The health-care industry is also dealing with major recruitment and retention issues and having solid retirement and health benefits has been proven to attract more health-care workers, he notes. Indeed, the union has seen fewer recruitment issues among employers that offer retirement security options.

Providing earlier retirement benefits can also help with employee well-being to remove some of the physical and emotional stress that happens as people age. Being a border services officer requires a certain degree of physical fitness and meeting specific requirements, says Weber, adding as officers age, it becomes harder and harder to meet those standards.

Similarly, working in the health-care field can take a massive toll on employees’ physical and mental well-being, says Downey. “Having some type of retirement option for workers when they get to the end stages of their career is something they would all appreciate. They need to have something to fall back on when they can’t continue the [grueling labour].”

Read: Survey finds just 14% of near-retirees say they can retire with confidence