Contact Newsletter – June 2014

//Contact Newsletter – June 2014
Contact Newsletter – June 20142016-11-29T13:38:54+00:00

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Understanding Your Extended Health and Dental Plan


Much has changed in the last few years in the way we submit our health and dental plan claims. Reimbursement for claims is now more practical than ever. Many service providers, such as your massage therapist, physiotherapist, chiropractor or optometrist, to name a few, have registered with the TELUS Health eClaims system so that your claim can be conveniently processed at the point of service, similar to the way your dental claims are submitted electronically.

This means that you no longer pay for the cost of the paramedical service up front and then submit either online or by paper claim. Instead, your claim is processed immediately by the service provider via the TELUS Health system and Sun Life immediately pays the service provider for the cost of the service.

Other eClaim Options

You also have other ways to submit claims online:

Pay Direct Drug Card

By now many of you will have used our new Pay Direct Drug card (PDD) to purchase your prescriptions. The PDD card works just like your provincial senior’s drug card and co-ordinates any amount of your prescription cost that is not covered by your provincial coverage.

The PDD card allows the pharmacist to submit your prescription claim directly to Sun Life for reimbursement. If you are purchasing a generic drug, the only amount that you are responsible for paying is the difference between the plan’s dispensing fee cap and the pharmacist’s dispensing fee.

Be an Informed Health and Dental Plan Member

Although submitting our claims is more convenient and “greener” than ever, understanding the plan’s provisions and limitations will provide you with the best value and help us to manage the overall cost of the plan. Take the time to review your benefits plan. You will find a copy of Your Group Benefits booklet on the Pension and Benefits web page.

Smart Shopping Tips… to Help Control Plan Costs

Generic Drugs

You already know that requesting a lower priced generic drug for a brand name drug will help control rising drug costs in our plan. In fact, this was one of the significant reasons for the decision to implement a “mandatory generic” provision starting in January. Smart shopping means letting your pharmacist know that our plan will only reimburse the cost of an equivalent generic drug. Or, you could continue to accept the brand-name drug and pay the difference out of pocket between the cost of the brand and the generic.

Prescription Refills

Smart shopping means understanding when it is most cost effective to refill your regularly prescribed medications. For example, one of the easiest ways to control dispensing fees is to purchase a three-month supply of regular maintenance medications, whenever possible. Dispensing fees for a three-month supply is more cost effective to the plan than if you request three separate monthly supplies. Remember, in the long run, these additional fees add significant cost to the benefits plan.

Treatment or Services

You wouldn’t ask your mechanic to repair your car until you knew exactly the cost of the repair and why it is needed. Smart shopping also means speaking to your dentist or health care provider before receiving treatment or services. This is the concept behind the dental “predetermination” provision, which we are already familiar with and use.

A predetermination pre-approves which procedures of the planned treatment will be covered by our dental plan; however, the predetermination process does not take into account the annual limit or any previous charges already applied to the annual limit. It is your responsibility to check with Sun Life to see if any previous charges, plus the pre-approved predetermination charges, exceed the annual limit. You may even decide to postpone some of the treatment to a later date.

Dentists are free to set their own fees for services. Be sure to ask your dentist to explain what each code means and whether alternative treatments or procedures are available to you. Remember, you will be required to pay the difference between what the dentist charges and what our plan covers.

Know Your Limit and Claim Within It

Here is a list of common services with specific limits*.

Paramedical Service Annual Coverage Paramedical Service Maximum Coverage
Speech or massage therapist $300
Psychologist and/or social worker $300 Vision care $100 in any 24 month period
Audiologist, dietician or occupational therapist $500 Ophthalmologist or optometrist $50 over 2 benefit years
Osteopath, chiropractor $500 Hearing Aids $250 over 2 benefit years
Podiatrist, chiropodist, naturopath $500


Dental Care Annual Coverage Dental Care Maximum Coverage
Maximum amount for all procedures (basic and major restorative) $2,000 per benefit year Major restorative procedures 50% of eligible procedures

*Lifetime Maximum Benefit
Under the Retiree Extended Health Care, the maximum amount paid for any person is $50,000.

Plan Member Tips

  • Keep your benefits plan information confidential. Your Pay Direct Drug card, contract number, ID code and any other plan details should be kept private and stored in a secure location.
  • Request receipts from your pharmacist, dentist and service provider, and check carefully to ensure they reflect the actual product or service provided.
  • Don’t sign blank forms in advance of services provided.
  • Don’t substitute products or services. It’s unacceptable to charge for a product or service that is covered by our plan while actually buying another non-eligible product or service.

Benefits Booklet Updated

Our Group Benefits Booklet for Retired Employees was updated to include the benefit changes that took effect January 1, 2014. Other wording or provincial legislative updates are also included by Sun Life. A copy of the booklet may be sent to you upon request.

The booklet is also available on the Pension and Benefits Board web page.

Pension Plan Sustainability Study

In the fall of 2013, the Pension and Benefits Board established a Pension Plan Sustainability Study Group. The Board asked the study group to answer two questions:

  • Can we keep the pension promise in a way that allows continuation of the church’s mission and ministry?
  • What steps need to be taken to ensure that we can keep the pension promise into the future?

The study group was made up of three members of the board: a retired minister, an active minister and a member of staff. In addition, the Rev. Dr. Peter Coutts and the Rev. Dr. Stuart Macdonald were consulted for their analysis of church statistics regarding future denominational trends. The actuarial firm of Eckler Limited was contracted to conduct a study of the plan’s long-term viability. The study group met with the actuaries on four occasions over a five-month consultation process.

Assessing the Plan

The consultants asked the study group to provide a forecast of the expected growth or decline in the church over the next 15 years. Specifically, the study group was asked to provide details with regard to the

  • number of new enrolments; new graduates
  • new ministers’ ages, qualifying incomes, full-time or part-time positions
  • number of congregational members
  • number of congregations and projections on their future dollar base

The study group was also asked to review the modelling assumptions and other baseline methods to be used by the actuaries in their analysis of plan sustainability. Areas of study included

  • a stable membership; will the number of future retirees be replaced by new hires
  • the aging of the active membership
  • the cost of pensions already earned by current active members
  • the cost of pensions being paid to retirees
  • the impact of the assumption used to value future pensions, called the discount rate

Unique Realities of the Plan

The sustainability study evaluated the Presbyterian Church in Canada Pension Plan’s unique realities: the plan is a mature plan with more retirees than active members, few members retire at the 95 factor with many working past age 65, and we have both congregational and non-congregational employers whose contributions are assessed in different ways. Such a study means that the Pension and Benefits Board can speak with much greater accuracy and certainty about the plan’s sustainability than the more generic “going concern” and “solvency” measurements.

Results of the Sustainability Study

The results of the sustainability study were both encouraging and concerning for the Pension and Benefits Board. The study indicated that The Presbyterian Church in Canada Pension Plan is sustainable over the 15-year window of the study; however, it will be very challenging for the church to meet the funding requirements for the next five years.

The study showed that because of the minimum funding requirements needed to fund the solvency deficit, that is, to be 100% funded at a specific date in time, contributions from members, congregations and other employers are not sufficient for the next few years. The plan will need to seek out additional sources of funding each month starting July 2014.

The Board was heartened to learn that because contribution rates were substantially increased, the plan is receiving more contributions than should be required to pay pensions to retirees over the long term. As a result, the study indicated that contribution payments may be able to be relaxed in about five years. This is good news for the pension plan.

The Board is also encouraged by the stronger equity returns of the last year and these more positive results are starting to show when our actuaries provide their quarterly reports.

Additional Sources of Funding

The immediate obligation is to continue to make additional “special payments” to the pension fund while the pension plan remains in a deficit position. In July 2014 the reserves in the plan that the church has been using to address the solvency requirements will be exhausted. At that time, the church will need to find additional sources of funding over and above what is presently put into the plan by plan members, congregations and other employers.

Two New Funding Sources from the Assembly Council

The Pension and Benefits Board presented an updated report of the need for additional sources of pension plan funding to the Assembly Council in March. In response to this need, Assembly Council provided the pension plan with two new sources of financial support.

  • Assembly Council revised its undesignated bequest policy so that until 2018, 15% of all undesignated bequests to the church will be transferred to the pension fund.
  • Assembly Council established a new policy so that, effective April 1, 2014, 25% of funds realized from the closure and dissolution of congregations is set aside and is used to address the pension fund solvency. This policy will be in effect until 2018 and reviewed prior to this date.

Pension Plan Changes

Realizing that contributions from congregations are probably as high as can be expected and that active members are contributing at the maximum limit, the Pension and Benefits Board carefully considered other changes within the pension plan for additional sources of funding. The General Assembly approved the following recommendations:

  • Non congregational employer contributions (from the colleges, national office, camps, other ministries) will be increased effective January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2016
  • Vacant congregations will no longer be exempted from contributing to the pension plan
  • The method for crediting interest to member contributions will change

These changes do not affect pensions currently being paid to retirees, but they do help the church to meet its financial obligations with regard to the pension plan for the next several years. A full report of the Pension and Benefits Board can be found in the 2014 Acts and Proceedings, when it is distributed by the General Assembly office in July.

The Pension and Benefits Board has asked the study group to monitor the results of the sustainability study to the actual fund performance for the next two years and the Board will keep you up to date in a future newsletter.

Progress Report on Pension Plan Finances

As communicated to you in 2013, our plan has taken advantage of provincial funding relief options that have given us additional time to eliminate our current funding shortfall. Funding relief has no effect on the pensions now being paid to our current retirees or to the pensions already earned by actively working members. Benefits earned to date cannot be changed and are fully protected under the terms of the plan. However, in the unlikely event that the plan wound up within the next 10 years (while we are making reduced special payments), there would be less money to pay benefits than there would be without funding relief.

As permitted under the Pension Benefits Act of Ontario, we have:

  • consolidated the existing funding shortfall as of June 30, 2011 and arranged to spread special payments over five years starting July 1, 2011
  • deferred the start of special payments for any new shortfall identified on June 30, 2011, to July 1, 2012, and arranged to spread special payments over 10 years; and
  • arranged to spread special payments for any new shortfall identified on July 1, 2012, over 10 years.

We are happy to report that less than 1% of our members objected to us taking these steps. However, even with these measures in place, congregations and employers must contribute $10.9 million annually as of January 1, 2014. Special payments required to fund the solvency shortfall are scheduled to stop in June 2023. In 2013, member contributions to the plan totalled $3.9 million and employer and congregation contributions to the plan totalled $6.0 million.

As of June 30, 2012, which was the date of our most recent valuation and solvency relief report, our plan had a transfer ratio of 65.2%. This means that if the plan had wound up on that date, it would have had enough funds available to cover 65.2% of the full value of the pensions earned by current and retired members. The previous solvency relief report (June 30, 2011) showed a transfer ratio of 79.1%.

If you have questions regarding this information, email the Pension Administrator or call 1-800-619-7301 or 416-441-1111.

The Rev. Dr. M. Edgar and Marion Burch – Gift to the Pension Fund

The Pension and Benefits Board is both grateful and humbled by the generous gift bequeathed to the Presbyterian Church in Canada Pension Plan by the Rev. Dr. M. Edgar and Marion Burch estate. An amount of $500,000 was received in May and a further distribution of $300,000 is expected by the end of the year. Dr. and Mrs. Burch served in the Mimico Presbyterian Church, Toronto, Ontario.

In Memory of… Remembering Those We Lost in 2013 – 2014


The Rev. John C. Brush
Mrs. Margaret Crabb
Mrs. Anne M. Currie
The Rev. Thomas A. Duke
Mrs. Gertrude Dutcher
Mr. Brian Emery
The Rev. Derwyn J. Hill
Mrs. Mildred Jennings
Mrs. Vera R. Kemble
The Rev. Calvin Claude MacInnis
Mrs. Mary McElwain
Mrs. Ruby Isobel McKeown
The Rev. Dr. Edward McKinlay

Mrs. G. Pearl McLean
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth G. McMillan
The Rev. John A. Neilson
Mrs. Victoria Pollock
The Rev. Fairlie Ritchie
The Rev. William Scott
Mrs. Gwendolyn Shantz
The Rev. Dr. Ruth Syme
The Rev. Dr. Harry E. Waite
The Rev. David Walker


The Rev. Dr. Calvin H. Chambers
The Rev. Dennis W. Clarke

Mrs. Mary Marlene Cribar
The Rev. Robert A. Crooks
Mrs. Elinor Cunningham
The Rev. Dr. Allan M. Duncan
The Rev. Dr. Gordon Fish
The Rev. Murray Graham
The Rev. Everett Hawkes
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Hay
Mrs. Audrey McBride
Mrs. Jeannie F. Middleton
The Rev. Hugh L. Nugent
The Rev. Edward O’Neill
Mrs. Cornelia W. Stiel
Mrs. Elizabeth Sutherland
The Rev. Keith Wilcox


Reminder … Canada Life Assurance Company Questionnaires

Some of our retirees who retired before 1997 receive their PCC pension from two sources each month: Canada Life Assurance Company and RBC-Investor Services. As you know, prior to 1997, the church purchased an annuity for each retiree. Today, Canada Life still maintains sole responsibility for the payment of the annuity.

From time to time, Canada Life requests confirmation of your contact information in order to update their records. There is usually a suggested timeframe in which to respond. Please be sure to respond to their questions as soon as possible in order to avoid an interruption of your pension payment.

If you’ve completed and returned the Canada Life questionnaire but still find that your pension payment was stopped, please call the Pension and Benefits office, Pension Administrator, at 1-800-619-7301, ext. 229.

About this Newsletter

This newsletter provides summary information about The Presbyterian Church in Canada’s pension and benefits plans. It is not intended to be complete or comprehensive, or to provide legal or medical advice. If there are any discrepancies between this bulletin and the wording in the legal documents that govern the plans, the legal documents will apply in all cases.

Download a PDF of this newsletter

For more information, contact Pension and Benefits by email or call 416-441-1111 or 1-800-619-7301 ext. 287.