Pension Committee Update – March 2022

First, we hope this bulletin finds you all healthy and well.  We also would like to welcome back all of our colleagues who were laid off and wish you all the best for 2022.

Second, we want to take the time to thank Hugh Chetwynd and Karim Sheir for their years of service to the membership on the pension committee.  We wish them the best in their future endeavors.

As members of the Pension Committee, we are here to help you better understand the what, the why, and the how of your pension plan. Below are the quick answers to most common questions we get from the membership. We hope this helps you get started.

Your pension benefit is extremely significant and is the second largest benefit after your pay.

CUPE members are participants in one of 2 types of plans. Members hired prior to November 7, 2011 are participants in the Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plan and members hired at Mainline and Rouge on or after November 7, 2011, are participants in a Hybrid Pension Plan which has 2 parts: a DB portion and a Defined Contribution (DC) portion.

If you would like more information about your pension and how it fits in with your financial planning, please find the “Pensions 201” bulletin on the Air Canada Component of CUPE website:
https://accomponent.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/20160421_Pension_201.pdf.

If you are a DB member requesting information about your pension amounts, please make sure you have a current estimate from the online calculator.

For DB plan members:

  • Log in to my.aircanada.ca select HR Connex
  • Under Retirement select HR Connex Pension
    • Select the tile: Project Your Retirement Income

For Hybrid DC plan members:

  • Log in to my.aircanada.ca select HR Connex
  • Under Retirement select
    • HR Connex Pension (DB Portion)
    • My DC Pension (DC Portion)

If your pension questions are not addressed satisfactorily, please call the Employee Care Team at 1-833-847-EMPL (3675).

  • Option 4: Pensions
    • Option 1: DB plan (Alight)
    • Option 2: DC Plan (Manulife)

DB members including Hybrid mainline and Rouge members can also schedule a call with an Alight pensions agent for personalized service following the above path.  Members on a Hybrid pension plan can buyback/payback for their DB/DC pension by just speaking to a representative at Alight.

Click HERE to view slides to help you maneuver on the HR Connex website.

PLEASE NOTE: Members of the Rouge plan do not have access to HR Connex Pension.  Information on your plan can be accessed by contacting Alight directly.

Your Pension Committee wishes you all safe flying. Please reach out if you have questions at pensions@accomponent.ca.

Best wishes for 2022,

Your Component Pension Committee

– – – –

Did you know?

The Air Canada Pension plan is worth around $24 Billion.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Air Canada is valued at just around $8.4 Billion. (Based at a share price of $23.54 on March 21st, 2022.)

The Air Canada pension plan is 3 times bigger in value than Air Canada itself.

Update on Pension Buybacks

The Pension Committee has received a lot of enquiries regarding Pension Buyback and how a layoff affects the timeline to initiate a buyback. Generally, all members who are laid-off and wish to initiate a buyback fall into one of these two categories:

  • If you were on a Leave eligible for a buyback and then placed directly on layoff, you will have 90 days upon your recall to buyback that leave. This only applies to you if you were laid-off directly from that leave and were never returned to the payroll in-between the leave and the layoff.
  • The other situation is those that took a Leave eligible for a buyback and were subsequently returned to work. You will have 90 days from the end of that leave to initiate the buyback even if you have now been laid-off, as you were returned to payroll for even just a few days. If you select payroll deductions as your buyback option, the deductions will begin upon your recall.

Mainline Defined Benefit Plan Members must contact HR Connex Pension at 1-833-847-3675, Option 2 to initiate their buyback.

In Solidarity,

Your Component Pension Committee

RBP Pension Bulletin – August 2020

(This applies to Air Canada Mainline only)

Pension information regarding the 8 month Reduced Block Program as per LOU 25:
Bidding for the reduced block program offered yearly as per LOU 25 of the Collective Agreement opens on August 19, 2020, at 8:00 EDT and closes on September 2, 2020, at 8:00 EDT. Award results will be available on September 11, 2020, at 17:00 EDT.

For your convenience, a copy of the relevant article, as well as important pension buy-back information, is posted on acaeronet and is available via the globe Information System under Tools & References > Crew Scheduling & Planning > Reduced Block Program Information > Reduced Block Program Under LOU 25/2020-2021 Reduced Block Pension Buy Back Formula (respectively). Please note that an updated document has been posted.

Members applying for the Reduced Block Program are required to select Option 1 or Option 2 regarding their pension for the duration of the program. The following information and definitions are provided to assist you with understanding and assessing the pension options that are part of this program.

You are considered to be working 60% of a regular block when you are on an RBP. Qualifying Pension Service credit is not prorated but Allowable Pension Service credited is prorated based on 60% unless you do the top up (buy back).
Note: The pension department rounds up Allowable Pension Service for the RBP period to the next full month (explained below).

Qualifying Service; is the service used to determine eligibility criteria for pension milestones (such as 25 years or 80 and 85 points), it will not be affected by this program. You will receive 8 months of Qualifying Service for the 8 month RBP program and 12 months of Qualifying Service if you are on an RBP for 12 months (i.e.: if you were also on the 4 month RBP from June – September as well), regardless of whether you select Option 1 or Option 2.

Allowable Service; is the amount of service used in your pension formula to determine the pension you will receive and it is affected by this program. Applicants must choose Option 1 or Option 2 (discussed below) to determine if you receive 60% or 100% of the month for Allowable Pension Service time.

If you choose Option 1 (no top up) you will receive a total of 5 months of Allowable Pension Service for the 8 month RBP period and 8 months of Allowable Pension Service for the 12 month RBP period.

If you choose Option 2 you will receive 8 months of Allowable Pension Service for the 8 month RBP and 12 months of Allowable Pension Service for the 12 month RBP.

Note: If you have already achieved your 35 years of Allowable Service, no pension contributions will be deducted, and you will not be credited with any additional Allowable Service. However, you still have to select an Option when submitting your RBP Bid.

Allowable Service Credit and required contributions:

Option 1 – If you choose Option 1 you contribute on your actual (reduced block) earnings and your allowable service (used to calculate your pension) is reduced accordingly. The contribution rate is 4.5% for earnings up to the YMPE and 6.0% for earnings over the YMPE. The 2020 YMPE is $58,700. The Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE) number is set by the government. It is a measure of the average national wage as determined by statistics Canada and reported each fall by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.

If you elect Option 1, you will NOT be allowed to buy-back this Allowable Service at a later date. However as mentioned above your Qualifying Service is not affected.

If you choose Option 1, you receive Allowable Service credit for 60% of the length of time of the Reduced Block. For the 8 month RBP program you will receive 5 months allowable service credit (60% X 8 = 4.8) and for the 12 month RBP program you will receive 8 months of allowable service credit (60% X 12 = 7.2), as the calculation is rounded up to the next completed month.

Option 2 – If you choose Option 2 you have decided to top-up (buy back), and you will receive full credit for your Allowable Service in the pension plan. You must contribute 1) the employer portion of the cost to the pension plan for the period you are not working and 2) your regular contributions as if you were receiving your full salary. If you choose Option 2 you receive Allowable Service credit for the full period of the 8 or 12 month reduced block.

What does Option 2 top-up (buy back) cost and what is the benefit?
If you participate in Option 2 you are basically buying 3 months of Allowable Service if you are participating in the 8 month program and 4 months of Allowable Service if you are participating in the 12 month program. For the period of the RBP you will receive 8 months or 12 months of Allowable Service credit depending on the program you are awarded. If you do not do the Option 2 top-up (buy back) for the period of the RBP you will receive 5 months of Allowable Service credit if participating in the 8 month RBP and 8 months of Allowable Service credit if participating in the 12 month RBP.

If you are planning to work past the point in time when you would achieve 35 years (420 months) of Allowable Service credit (35 years, 420 months is the maximum amount of allowable pension service you can accrue based on our pension plan provisions) then the buy back may not be necessary in order for you to achieve a full pension of 35 years Allowable Service. If you choose Option 1 and not Option 2 (the buy back) and if for some reason at a later date you decide you want to buy back this time, it will not be possible under the current rules. The cost of the top-up (buy back) varies according to your age. The older you are the more expensive it is. As referenced above in paragraph two, you can review the 2020-21 Reduced Block Pension Buy Back Formula bulletin on acaeronet/globe to determine your cost of the buy back, based on your age and expected earnings. For your information the 2020 YMPE figure is $58,700.

To estimate the value for you of doing the RBP buy back (provided the pension milestones are the same for both dates) you could do a pension estimate projection for the date you intend to retire and compare it to one that is 3 months earlier for the 8 month RBP or 4 months earlier for the 12 month RBP (i.e.: with 3 or 4 months less Allowable Service). The difference would be an estimate of the value of the top up (buy back) for you.

You may want to consider whether you may eventually achieve 35 years of Allowable Service without doing the buy back. If you work more than 3 months past the point in time for the 8 month RBP or 4 months past the point in time for the 12 month RBP, when you would have achieved 35 years of Allowable Service with the top up (buy back), then you may eventually be able to earn and be credited with this Allowable Service without doing the top up (buy back) and paying the Company portion.

Annualized Earnings for the Reduced Block Program:
If the reduced block period is not part of your best 3 years (best consecutive 36 months) then the reduced block has no impact on the Average Annual Compensation figure used in calculating your pension. If the reduced block period is part of the member’s best 36 months earnings, a formula will be used to determine the annualized earnings that will be entered as the member’s monthly earnings and used in their pension calculations. For example; if you flew the maximum of 45 hours allowed during a reduced block month, based on the annualized earnings formula, 75 hours pay would be the annualized earnings that would be used as your monthly pensionable earnings for that month and entered in your pension file. For both Option 1 and Option 2 the earnings used for your Average Annual Compensation earnings (pensionable earnings) will be annualized.

For members who have already contributed to the 35 year maximum this annualized amount is entered as pensionable earnings for this time period. Even if Allowable Service is not being credited due to the 35 year limit, the member’s earnings after 35 years are still recognized in determining their best consecutive 36 months. The best 36 months used for determining the Average Annual Compensation (which is used in the pension formula) is based on whenever these earnings occur after the date the members joined the pension plan.

Conclusion: For any questions or if you require further clarification please call AC ECT (Employee Care Team), 1-833-847-3675 or HR Connex Pension at 1-855-354-6944 (select the options for DB pensions).

In Solidarity,

Your Component Pension Committee