Your Local and Component offices have been inundated with phone calls and emails from some members who live in the province of Quebec and have been laid off. The provincial health insurance board in the province of Quebec (RAMQ) requires residents of Quebec to maintain prescription drug coverage through a private plan if one is available to them from their employer or trade union. This requirement means that the expensive buy back option of the Air Canada extended health plan has become mandatory for some of our soon to be laid off members in Quebec. This places a heavy burden on those who are already going to be struggling to make ends meet.
We have requested that Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge look into offering a health plan with prescription only coverage. This would have saved these members from the higher costs associated with the extended health plan. At this time, they are unable to split out the prescription drugs from the overall health plan. Your Union has been looking into creative alternate solutions.
You may not be aware but the Air Canada Component of CUPE is also an employer. We have five full-time employees based in our head office in Etobicoke. As such we provide a benefits plan as part of their negotiated compensation. The Component Secretary-Treasurer, Alex Habib has been working with our benefits provider to put together a private plan for our affected members that would cover prescription drugs only.
Discussions are ongoing and we are hopeful we can negotiate a lower rate of insurance that in turn can then be offered to the affected members. It would also be open to any members who might be interested in prescription only coverage and have been laid off.
We likely will not have final details until sometime next week. We wanted to advise you that we are looking into alternate arrangements but cannot make any guarantees.
We appreciate how difficult the financial hurdles ahead will be for those who are laid off and are doing all we can to support you in these difficult times. We will have further updates as they become available.