PSAC files policy grievance for issues with Canada Life

PSAC has filed a policy grievance against Treasury Board for the poor management of the transfer of the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) to Canada Life, which has impacted tens of thousands of federal public service workers covered by the plan. We are also in the process of following suit against employers in other affected bargaining units. The policy grievance argues that the employer's actions violated the collective agreement by implementing the transition without regard for the rights of all members to a functioning health care plan, and did so in a manner that violated the human rights of workers based on the grounds of disability, family status, age, sex, and/or or gender identity and expression.  

On July 1, 2023, the federal government transferred the administration of the PSHCP from Sun Life to Canada Life for over 1.5 million current and former public service workers and their families. Almost immediately, members began dealing with significant issues, including the interruption of their benefits, the inability to contact the insurer, long delays and arbitrary and wrongful denial of claims.  

Some members had to make the difficult decision to stop their medical treatments because they could not afford to pay out of pocket and wait for the eventual reimbursement by Canada Life. An apology from Canada Life or the federal government is not enough to redress the harm already caused, as well as the harm members continue to experience. 

PSAC is seeking remedies for the problems the transition caused, including but not limited to the following: 

  • a declaration that the employer has violated the collective agreement;
  • an order that the employer compensate members for all harms experienced since the transition to Canada Life, including:  
    • general damages for all employees for the stress, aggravation, and pain and suffering they experienced;  
    • damages for impacts to those who experienced financial losses; 
    • damages under the Canadian Human Rights Act for adverse effects experienced on the basis of prohibited grounds. 

How your union can help 

PSHCP Appeal Process 

If you have experienced issues with coverage or your claim has been denied by Canada Life, follow the PSHCP appeal process. You can find more details about the process through the Plan’s administration authority. Any issues related to the denial of a claim or coverage under the Plan, or if you received a lesser reimbursement than expected should be appealed, not grieved.  If you grieve these issues, it will take substantially longer to resolve. Please see the FAQ link below and/or contact your steward, a member of your union local executive, or your component labour relations officer if you have questions about whether your situation should be appealed or grieved. 

In Limited Situations You May Be Able to File a Grievance 

If you experienced delays or other hardship because of Canada Life’s administration of your claim, you may be able to file a grievance against the employer. A grievance may be appropriate where Canada Life failed to process a claim or provide reimbursement within a reasonable time or where you were unable to contact them in a reasonable time, leading to financial hardship, delayed treatment, or some other adverse impact on you. The grievance process takes substantially longer than the appeals process and a grievance on a denial of benefits will be rejected and you will be directed to appeal.  

If you are unsure whether your situation should be grieved or appealed, please consult our Canada Life FAQ for more information.  

If you have experienced delays because of Canada Life’s administration of your claim and you would like to file an individual grievance, please contact your steward, a member of your union local executive, or your component labour relations officer to discuss it.  Click here to find out how to contact your union

If you are a retiree, you can appeal through the PSHCP appeal process, but the grievance process is not available to you unless the problems you experienced occurred while you were an employee.  The National Association of Federal Retirees represents retirees under the PSHCP and any questions about recourse should be addressed to them.  

You also can write to your Member of Parliament to pressure Treasury Board President Anita Anand and Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada Yves Duclos to take accountability for improving health benefits for PSAC members. We have prepared a pre-written letter for members and encourage everyone to send one. 


February 28, 2024