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November Treasurers’ Newsletter

By November 7, 2023Newsletters

Welcome, New Directors to Board

We are pleased to announce that two new members have joined the GSI Board, effective September 2023.

Rev. Carla Blakley, Regina

Carla is the pastor at a United Lutheran Church in Regina.

She has a wealth of experience from serving on many boards throughout her career, as well as her former positions as Assistant to the ELCIC National Bishop and as a Community Relations Director for Canadian Lutheran World Relief.

We are excited for the many gifts Carla will share with the Board as she brings perspective and insight as a Plan Member.

Sabrina Buffie, Winnipeg

Sabrina is Compensation & Benefits Specialist for Princess Auto, a national retailer. This role has included group benefits plan administration, pension committee membership, member education, and total rewards strategy.

She holds Bachelors degrees in Arts and Commerce from the University of Manitoba and the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist designation from Dalhousie University.

The GSI Board is delighted to have found a new Director who has such depth of knowledge pertaining to pension and benefits and who is also a member of an ELCIC congregation (Faith Lutheran Church, Winnipeg).

Benefits Premium Rates 2024

GSI often hears from Plan Members how grateful they are for the support and financial assistance provided by their health benefits. This feedback is corroborated by the excellent plan utilization, demonstrated by statistics showing:

  • that almost every Plan Member has made a claim
  • the relatively high average number of claims each member makes
  • and the dollar amounts of the claims

See the Summer 2023 edition of Treasurers’ News for detailed statistics. The Benefits Plan — together with the Pension — is a core element of recruitment and retention of rostered leaders and non-rostered staff in the ELCIC.

Health Module

Coverage includes:
  • prescription drugs
  • vision care
  • professional services
  • medical supplies
  • dental care
  • travel health
  • health care spending account

In order to avoid a sharp spike in premiums for the current year of 2023, the GSI Board passed on to employers only a portion of the premium increase that was required by Manulife on January 1. The difference is being funded from reserves held for this purpose.

In 2024, the increase will be even greater. Some of this will again be offset with reserves, but even so ELCLC employers will have to remit approximately 10% more in 2024 for each Health Module than they did in 2023.

LifePlus

The LifePlus benefits bundle was enhanced in 2017 to include two nationally insured benefits: short-term disability and parental leave supplemental pay.

ELCIC employers were advised then that the traditional 3.0% of Salary premium would be increasing to 4.5% to cover both the new benefits and address the pressure on the plan from the ELCIC’s aging demographic. GSI proposed to increase the premium gradually by an additional 0.25% per year, up to 4.5% by 2022

The premium rate history is: 3.25% (2017), 3.5% (2018), 3.75% (2019), and 4.0% (2020). At the beginning of the pandemic, the GSI Board anticipated that congregations could experience financial stresses and decided to suspend the increases. The actual claims in the LifePlus benefit were lower than prior to the pandemic, and so the rates for 2021, 2022 and 2023 were reduced and held at 3.5% of Salary.  

During 2023, the claims experience has dramatically increased, with an unprecedented number of long-term disability claims. It is no longer possible to continue to hold the premium rate: a significant increase is required. The GSI Board has set the 2024 rate at 4.5%. 

Coverage includes:
  • short-term disability
  • long-term disability
  • member and family assistance (MFAP)
  • life insurance
  • dependent life insurance
  • accidental death & dismemberment
  • parental leave supplemental pay

The 2024 premium rates are now posted on the website. 

GSI appreciates employers understanding the need to increase the premiums in order to share in supporting all plan members who service in ELCIC congregations and institutions.  

Employer Receipt Report

On October 17th, GSI sent each employer a listing of all the pension contributions and benefits premiums that we have received for each of their employees to date.

Please review the listing carefully and reconcile it to your records. This is a great way to detect errors prior to year-end, when it may be more complex and costly to correct.

Let us know if you notice any discrepancies. 

Treasurer Worksheets

The life insurance rates paid to Manulife will be changing for 2024. The revised taxable benefit calculation form will be available December 1 on the Forms page as you prepare for your 2024 payroll. Please use the new form to determine the monthly withholdings base for 2024. 

Medical Absence

It’s a good idea to let GSI know when employees are taking more than one or two sick days at a time.

Short-term disability (STD) benefits kick in after 14 consecutive days of absence due to medically supported illness or injury. Sometimes medical leaves that seem like they will be short, end up becoming more serious. It’s easier to implement the STD if some planning has been done in advance.

New and Departing Employees

Do you have new employees? Employees who have changed marital status or have recently had a new baby? Employees who are leaving to pursue other opportunities?

All of these situations require paperwork to be filed — for the benefit of both employer and employee.

Please keep GSI informed!

New Treasurer

Please remember to update GSI whenever you elect or appoint a new Treasurer. Check the invoice to see who GSI has listed as the primary contact. Is that information still current?

We encourage all Treasurers to review the GSI website from time to time to ensure you are not missing anything.

If you are a new Treasurer and would like an orientation, please contact our office. 

Monthly Payment

There are just a few congregations/employers left that continue issuing a monthly cheque. We strongly encourage you to move to the automatic electronic payment that is scheduled for the 15th of each month. 

Year-End Opportunity to Change Benefits Module

As we move to the end of the year, members will have the opportunity to reflect on their benefits needs and select their benefits module option that would start on January 1st. Members can move to an adjacent module (e.g., from green to teal) by filling in a Group Benefits Enrollment form and submitting it to the GSI office by Monday, December 18, 2023.

This is a good time to meet with your pastors and other employees to see if they plan on making any changes, and then discuss how any additional premiums will be paid. Employers are required to provide their employees with the Blue module. Any other arrangements are as per the agreement between the employer and Plan Member.  

New Reporting Requirement on T4/T4A

with Introduction of the Canadian Dental Care Plan

Last spring, the federal government announced the new Canada Dental Care Plan (CDCP).

Details are still being finalized, but it has been announced that new boxes will be added to the T4 and T4A forms asking employers to report whether their employees have access to dental benefits of any kind.

Short-Term Employees Are Still Eligible for the Plans!

Sometimes a congregation or other employer will engage employees on a short-term contract. You may bring someone in for a special project, for example, or have a temporary administrative assistant filling in when your regular employee is on leave.

Since 2017, there has been no waiting period before an employee becomes eligible to join the ELCIC Pension and Benefits plans. This is great for new employees, who can rest assured that they can access healthcare and begin saving for retirement as soon as they begin work.

However, it also means that if short-term employees meet the salary requirement, they need to be enrolled in the Plans — with at least Blue-level benefits — even if their period of employment is expected to be short. The salary requirement is monthly earnings of 25% of YMPE; in 2023, that was $1387.50/mo.

For more information about eligibility, please visit this page on the GSI website.

Have a Question for GSI?

We welcome your questions and feedback!

Information and resources can also be found on the GSI website.
GSI Website:  elcicgsi.ca
Winnipeg Residents: 204-984-9181
Toll Free: 1-877-352-4247

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