Update 8 – City of Toronto Benefits Verification

adminBenefits

While the Association suggests not supplying the information until after the Arbiter makes an award this is a personal decision and if the City follows through could see your benefits revert to single coverage if you don’t. Please take the time to make the decision that is right for you.

(Note – All updates and information are available by scrolling this page)


Update #8

UNION NOTICE: #23-007
Thursday January 12, 2023

Subject: Benefits Verification Grievance Update
Today the Association attended another day of Arbitration regarding the Benefits Verification grievance. The City made its final arguments regarding this case.

Your Association has endeavoured to keep members informed of the information provided to us by the City, regardless of our position, and communicate updates throughout the legal proceedings.

From a collective agreement and human rights perspective, this is a critical Arbitration; however, we understand the need to expedite a resolution to prevent our active and retired members from wrongfully being denied benefits.

We are aware of the frustration this exercise has caused and encourage anyone with questions and concerns to formalize their issue by using the benefits verification form found HERE.

As previously reported, “The City will not act on the results of the Dependent Verification Audit until January 31, 2023, at the earliest.”

Our next arbitration date is on January 19, at which time the legal counsel for the Association will make closing arguments. At that point, the proceeding will be completed, and all parties will await a decision from the Arbitrator.

In solidarity,

Kevin McCarthy
President
Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association
I.A.F.F. Local 3888


Update #7

Friday, January 6, 2023

UNION NOTICE: #23-005
Subject: GSC Dependant Verification Deadline Change

As a continuing effort to provide information and updates regarding the “Dependant Verification Audit.” Please take a moment to read below.

Unfortunately, this exercise has caused undue stress for many of our members and retirees. Your Association continues to work with the City to resolve our differences or for temporary solutions while the proceedings are ongoing.

Thankfully, I received an email from the Director of Employee relations today stating: “The City will not act on the results of the Dependent Verification Audit until January 31, 2023, at the earliest.”

This extension will allow us some breathing room while we await an expedited decision from the Arbiter.

For those members who are choosing to partake in the benefit audit, the City would like to remind you of the following:

“Please note that if your members elect to submit documents, they typically get three opportunities. If the audit is denied three times, they may not be able to submit documents online. In such cases, if the member has additional documents to submit, they can contact Mercer for assistance.”

Our next arbitration date on this matter is on January 12, 2023, when the City will respond to the submissions already presented by the legal counsel of Local 3888.

Your Association will provide further updates as things evolve.

We will continue to fight for the rights of our members and retirees while protecting our benefits and our Collective Agreement.

Thank you for your continued support.

In solidarity,

Kevin McCarthy
President
Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association
I.A.F.F. Local 3888


Update #6

UNION NOTICE: #22-148

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Subject: Benefits Verification Arbitration Update

Today your Association and the City met regarding their second of five arbitration dates related to the unreasonableness of the benefits audit by Mercer.

Legal counsel for the Aosscaiton provided several arguments ranging from violations of our collective agreement, human rights, and protecting a member’s and retiree’s personal and private information. The Arbitrator had many questions, leading to our presentation taking most of the time allotted. As a result, the City asked that their rebuttal be heard at our next arbitration date on January 12, 2023. Your Association offered dates next week because of the short timelines, but the City was unavailable. Future dates include January 19th and 26th.

At the end of the meeting today, the City committed that any employee who submits an attestation form without supporting documentation by December 31 will be recorded as “incomplete,” however, they will be granted a two-week extension to provide supporting documentation.

However, employees with a file still noted as incomplete as of January 15, 2023, will have their ineligible dependents removed from the benefit plan at that time.

Your Association has not changed its position. We still believe that the process is unreasonable, infringing on our member’s rights, and is an improper assertion of management rights.

For more information, please see Union Notices #22-134, #22-114, #22-110, #22-078

In Solidarity,

Kevin McCarthy
President,
Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association
I.A.F.F. Local 3888


Update #5

UNION NOTICE: #22-138
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
Subject: Benefits Verification Concern Form

The recent request by the City through Mercer has caused concerns and confusion for both our active and retired members. In addition, your Association has significant issues regarding our Collective Agreement rights and language that the request has brought to light.

Your Association is steadfast in its position that this process is an overreach and unnecessarily complicated since a verification process was completed upon the changeover to GSC from Manulife. We are committed to using all tools available and following the grievance process to receive a quick and fair decision. To increase our chances of success, we NEED your help. An online form has been created to capture your individual questions and concerns with this process. We have previously used this online tool to support our arguments and provide examples that proved invaluable in recent benefits grievances where we have been successful. No concern is too small. Your questions and concerns will be collected on this form for the grievance process only. We will not be able to provide replies based on this form. Please take a moment to review Union Notices #22- 078, 086, 110, 114, and 134 if you have any other questions.

We understand the stress and difficulties the unnecessary intrusion has caused our active and retired members.

Please take the time to give us the means to protect your benefits.

Please complete the Online Benefits Verification Form HERE.

In Solidarity,

Kevin McCarthy,
President
Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association
I.A.F.F. Local 3888



UNION NOTICE: #22-134
Thursday, November 17, 2022
Subject: Benefits Verification Update 4


Yesterday your Association went to the first of the five arbitration dates regarding the benefits verification process, an exercise implemented without consultation with the TPFFA and other unions across the City.

At day’s end, we were able to obtain confirmation from the City that they will not be disciplining members. or clawing back benefits because of this exercise. Your Association raised several concerns throughout the day, such as a glaring mistake on the attestation form regarding the definition of a disabled dependant, an issue already recently successfully arbitrated and set out in the Collective Agreement. We know there has been a lot of confusion around deadlines, concerns about costs, information security, and whom the City says is required to participate in this endeavour. From what I have seen, there isn’t even an option for members or retired members who cannot access a computer to mail in their information. Your Association intends to fight vigorously to protect both our active and retiree members and our collective agreement rights.

The City clarified yesterday that only employees and all retirees, regardless of the plan selected, whose dependents were enrolled before December 31, 2019, must complete this exercise for those dependents. Employees whose dependents enrolled in benefits after December 31, 2019, are not required to complete this exercise for those dependents. However, the City has said that employees and retirees must complete the exercise for dependents enrolled on or before December 31, 2019. If you are unsure about whether or not this applies to you, the City has asked that you contact Mercer at 1-855-978-2930.

For informational purposes, I have included a quote from a letter I received this afternoon from Sean Milloy, Director of City Labour Relations.

“Although the deadline for employees to submit information to verify their dependents remains November 18, 2022, the portal is expected to remain open over the weekend for last-minute document submission.

In addition, any employee who submits an attestation form without supporting documentation by the deadline set out above will be recorded as “incomplete”, and granted a two-week extension to provide supporting documentation. However, employees with a file still noted as incomplete as of January 15, 2023, will have their ineligible dependents removed from the benefit plan at that time.”

Our position has not changed. We believe this benefits verification exercise contravenes the Collective Agreement. Therefore, we will take every measure to fight this issue in arbitration.

However, it is possible that the litigation will not be completed before the City takes a position not to recognize dependants previously established before this exercise. Therefore, you may submit the documents if losing your family coverage causes hardship before the conclusion of our remaining arbitration dates. The following are the remaining dates (December 22, 2022, January 12, 19, 26, 2023)

Please be reminded that if you or anyone else incurs out-of-pocket costs in obtaining the documents or, as a result of the City not recognizing dependants previously established before this exercise, active and retired members should keep their receipts and good records of correspondents. The Association is preparing an online form to document and collect relevant information if required.

In addition, if you do decide to participate in this exercise but have difficulties obtaining or providing the requested documents, contact the Mercer helpline so that we can document the fact that you have advised the City and Mercer of the problem.

Defending our benefits is not new to our active and retired members. Your Association has proven through previous actions that we will take whatever steps necessary to protect your negotiated Collective Agreement language.

In Solidarity,

Kevin McCarthy
President
Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association
I.A.F.F. Local 3888


UNION NOTICE: #22-114

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Subject: Benefits Verification Update – 3
Further to Union Notices 22-078, 22-086 and 22-110, we would like to remind our members that we are currently in the arbitration grievance process regarding the city’s attempt to retrieve additional personal information from the membership regarding their dependent status using a third-party service. As we have stated previously, your Association has many concerns with this letter including the disclosure of private, personal information to an unknown source, costs involved in supplying the requested information, the fact that we have already supplied the requested information when we transitioned to Green Shield, the various times that members are receiving the packages if they receive them at all and as stated in the Collective Agreement. We are only required to report changes to our dependent status.

Article 16.01 c)

Each employee shall report any changes in marital status or increase or decrease in dependents without delay, and if failure to report any such changes results in any overpayment by the City, the employee shall reimburse the City in the amount of such overpayment.

The City notified us today that they will extend the deadline to provide documentation to November 18, 2022.

Through legal advice, we have filed an expedited grievance; we have secured 5 dates with the arbitrator from November 16 to January 26. We understand the critical impact this has on our Active and Retired Member’s human rights and the financial and logistic implications. Furthermore, an exercise of this nature would be more appropriately raised during contract negotiations.

Although we don’t agree with the way the city is addressing this issue, we understand that this is a personal choice which you must decide on your own depending on your comfort level and your own personal situation. If our members do supply the information and the arbiter decides against the city, we will be asking for reimbursement for any costs incurred and that all information supplied be destroyed. We expect further clarity on these expectations during our first meeting on November 16th. We still advise all Active and Retired Members NOT to provide the requested information until the arbitrator adjudicates this matter properly.

In solidarity,

Kevin McCarthy
President
Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association
I.A.F.F. Local 3888


Union Notice #22-086: City of Toronto Benefits Verification – Update

Notice 22-110

Date: September 29, 2022

Subject: City of Toronto Benefits Verification – Update 2

To: All Members

_____________________________________________________________________

Further to Union Notices 22-078 and 22-086, we would like to remind our members that we were made aware of the city’s attempt to retrieve additional personal information regarding their dependent status using a third-party service. Your Association has many concerns with this letter including the disclosure of private, personal information to an unknown source, costs involved in supplying the requested information, the fact that we have already supplied the requested information when we transitioned to Green Shield and as stated in the Collective Agreement, we only need to report changes to our dependent status.

Article 16.01 c) Each employee shall report any changes in marital status or increase or decrease in dependents without delay, and if failure to report any such changes results in any overpayment by the City, the employee shall reimburse the City in the amount of such overpayment.

Through legal advice, we have filed an expedited grievance; we are currently securing a date and an arbitrator. But, again, we understand the critical impact of this on our Active and Retired Member’s human rights and the financial and logistic implications.

Furthermore, an exercise of this nature would be more appropriately raised during contract negotiations.

We advise all Active and Retired Members NOT to provide the requested information until the arbitrator adjudicates this matter properly.

In Solidarity,

Kevin McCarthy

President

Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association

I.A.F.F. Local 3888

PREVIOUS POSTS ON THIS SUBJECT