Canada Life fiasco: Richard’s story

The government of Canada’s decision to transition to Canada Life to provide health insurance benefits for more than 1.7 million current and former federal public service workers and their dependents has caused frustrating challenges and delays for plan members. We’re highlighting some of the ongoing issues that members are facing as we continue to pressure the government, urge members to take action for the government to resolve issues with Canada Life, and wait for the outcome of the OGGO committee meeting that happened this week. 

When the government announced they were making the switch from Sun Life to Canada Life, federal public service workers hoped this would mean improved service for their health care plan.  However, more than five months into the transition, the situation has become a disaster.  It’s turning into a nightmare for many PSAC members, especially the ones who have complex medical issues and depend on quick and reliable service from their insurance.  

Richard, a retired public service worker who lives in Almonte, Ont., has felt the strain of this transition. Richard has a hard time walking. He needs orthotics to help him move and function in his daily life. This equipment is prohibitively expensive for people on a fixed income like him. 

When he tried to get reimbursed for his orthotics, Canada Life didn’t respond. Despite making multiple attempts to contact them through phone calls, the online chat, and the insurer's "contact us" tool, he was unable to talk to someone to figure out why he hadn’t been reimbursed yet. A month later, he received a letter by mail asking him to send a copy of his prescription. Even after sending the extra paperwork, he still didn’t get reimbursed. It wasn't until he contacted the ombudsperson and his MP that he finally received a call from Canada Life to process his claim.   

The total time it took for a simple reimbursement of $375: two painstaking months. For people on a fixed income, waiting that long can be extremely difficult. It can often mean needing to forego other essentials or running the risk of missing other bill payments.   

After a career in the public service helping Canadians, retirees should not have to bend over backwards to receive the benefits that are owed to them. PSAC continues to pressure the government to hold Canada Life accountable for the large number of issues members are facing and outline clear steps to resolve the ongoing issues with service delivery and response times. 

If you have been or continue to be impacted by the transition to Canada Life, write to your MP to pressure Treasury Board President, Anita Anand, and Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, Yves Duclos, to take accountability for improving insurance benefits for PSAC members.  

If you want to get involved, please contact your regional office for the different actions being planned.  


December 8, 2023