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4

ARMED FORCES PENSIONERS

/ANNUITANTS

ASSOCIATION OF CANADA

CFSA Plan Administration

A recent CANFORGEN an-

nounced that responsibility for the ad-

ministration of our pensions will be

transferred from the Specialized Serv-

ices Division at PWGSC to the Gov-

ernment of Canada Pension Centre

later this year. The Pension Centre is

located in Shediac, New Brunswick,

and it already administers the pen-

sions of retired federal public servants

and RCMP pensioners. We have been

assured that the same folks who cur-

rently look after our pension files in

DND and PWGSC will be transferred

to a Pension Centre satellite office in

Ottawa to ensure a smooth transition.

But here’s the catch: certain parts

of the process will be done manually.

We have learned that, in the past,

some calculations were done incor-

rectly which resulted in some over- or

under-payments. In the case of over-

payments, the government wants im-

mediate reimbursement in full.

You will receive a notice some-

time this autumn announcing that the

transfer is about to occur. You should

then begin watching carefully that

your pension benefit does not unex-

pectedly increase or decrease. If it

does, you should phone our pension

office (1-800-267-0350) immediately

to determine the reason for that

change. Hopefully the changeover

will be flawless but a little extra vig-

ilance on your part would be prudent.

Federal Budget

You will recall that the Liberal

government made a lengthy list of

promises to veterans during the elec-

tion campaign last year (see last

newsletter Issue 22, page 6). You

may also recall that when the new

government’s Speech from the

Throne was presented by the Gover-

nor General on December 4th, the

word “veteran” was not spoken, not

even once! (If you are a sceptic, you

can confirm by reviewing the speech

at

www.speech.gc.ca)

The 2016 federal budget was re-

cently presented to Parliament. The

budget offered some tidbits for veter-

ans including:

Reopening and staffing service of-

fices in Charlottetown, Sydney, Cor-

ner Brook, Windsor, Thunder Bay,

Saskatoon, Brandon, Prince George

and Kelowna, opening an additional

office in Surrey, and expand outreach

to veterans in the North by working

with local partners

Increasing the Disability Award

(maximum increased to $360,000 in

2017) for injuries or illnesses caused

or worsened by military service, and

aligning it with other New Veterans

Charter benefits by indexing it to in-

flation. Higher Awards would be paid

retroactively to all veterans who have

received an Award since the introduc-

tion of the New Veterans Charter in

2006.

Expanding access to higher grades

of the Permanent Impairment Al-

lowance to better support veterans

who have had their career options

limited by a service-related illness or

injury. The potential impact of the

permanent and severe impairments on

veterans' career advancement oppor-

tunities would be considered in deter-

mining the appropriate level of

financial support. The benefit would

also be renamed Career Impact Al-

lowance to better reflect the intent of

the program.

Increasing the Earnings Loss Ben-

efit to provide income replacement of

90 per cent of gross pre-release mili-

tary salary for injured veterans partic-

ipating in Veterans Affairs Canada's

rehabilitation or vocational assistance

program or with injuries preventing

them from suitable and gainful em-

ployment. The indexation of this ben-

efit would also no longer be capped at

2 per cent and would be allowed to

keep pace with inflation. Finally, the

calculation of the minimum benefit

would be amended to be based on a

senior private's salary instead of a

basic corporal's salary.

Conspicuously absent from the

budget were any details on how these

changes would be implemented, nor

was there any mention of the election

promise that disabled veterans would

be allowed to choose between a dis-

ability pension or a lump-sum pay-

ment. Also missing was any

reference to the promised 70% sur-

vivor benefit or elimination of the

over-60

marriage restriction.

In the longer term, despite pre-

election promises by the Liberals, the

Target Benefit/Shared Risk

pension

issue remains a threat to our existing

Defined Benefit

plan. Finance Minis-

ter Morneau is a known supporter of

Target Benefit

plans and many pen-

sion advocates believe that he has a

hidden agenda regarding federal em-

ployee pensions. We will be watch-

ing this government closely for any

signs that it intends to harm our

earned benefits.

Your CFSA Pension/Annuity