Posted on May 04, 2023 in Over the Wire
Your Plan provides an Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP) offered through TELUS
Health (formerly LifeWorks). The EFAP is a confidential and voluntary support service that
can help you take the first step toward change. Let TELUS Health help you find solutions to the
challenges you face at any age and stage of life.
Effective May 1, 2022, referrals for paramedical services and medical supplies/devices, including orthotic inserts, can be obtained from either a nurse practitioner or physician. Eligible expenses must be medically
necessary for the treatment of an illness or injury. All expenses under this benefit must be first prescribed by a physician, nurse practitioner or other qualified medical practitioners (i.e. a chiropractor for chiropractic expenses).
In 2015, we sent out our first Membership Survey. It was our way to better understand your experiences with your Electrical Workers’ Benefits Plan, Pension Plan and our service delivery and make improvements. We look forward to your responses in the upcoming 2023 Membership Survey!
Posted on Nov 23, 2022 in Over the Wire
Effective January 1, 2022, the FreeStyle Libre System began to be covered under the Plan as a Prescription Drug Benefit. Refer to the Plan booklet for more information about this important update
Until recently the Plan allowed the maximum purchase of a 100-day supply of prescription drugs. Effective April 1, 2022, eligible Members and Dependents may receive an exception for a prescription drug supply of up to 200-days, if you are leaving Canada and require a supply of greater than 100 days. This exception applies to multiple prescriptions, one time per year per claimant.
To apply for the exception:
• contact the EBFA Fund Office or ClaimSecure
• ask for the Prescription Drug Purchase Exception Request Form at least 7 business days
prior to departure, and
• return the completed form to the EBFA Fund Office.
To comply with these changes the Trustees created the Electrical Industry Savings Plan so that retired members of the Plan who are receiving a pension and who are under age 71 (“Savings Plan Participants”) can accrue pension benefits from contributions made on and after January 1, 2022. From January 1, 2022 onwards, Savings Plan Participants working in Covered Employment will have contributions deposited into the Savings Plan until they reach the maximum pensionable age (end of the calendar year in which the Savings Plan Participant reaches age 71).
Posted on Oct 07, 2021 in Over the Wire
The Government of Alberta provides seniors age 65 and over, with premium-free
coverage for prescription drugs, as well as other health related benefits. Alberta Blue
Cross administers the prescription drug benefit on behalf of the Government of Alberta.
Under the paramedical benefits, the Plan provides coverage for the services of a qualified osteopath, chiropractor, podiatrist, chiropodist, registered or provisional physiotherapist, registered massage therapist, registered acupuncturist, naturopath, chartered/registered or certified psychologist and Christian Science practitioner. Coverage is limited to a maximum of $500 per person per calendar year per specialty.
As of September 1, 2021, the Board of Trustees wish to announce that eligible Plan Members and their Dependents can now have their provider consultations done virtually and continue with certain treatments online with their provider.
Posted on Mar 08, 2021 in Over the Wire
Effective March 1, 2021, changes will take effect to the Prescription Drug Benefit under the Plan
The Board of Trustees advise that effective March 1, 2021, the Plan’s drug claim provider will be changing from NexgenRx to ClaimSecure Inc.
Posted on Sep 01, 2020 in Over the Wire
Effective January 1, 1994, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) implemented a taxable benefit for Plan Members who gained coverage through hours worked by a Contributing Employer and qualified for “Group Term Life Insurance”. As a result, the Electrical Industry Insurance Benefit Trust Fund of Alberta began issuing T4A slips to Plan Members in 1994 on the taxable life insurance premiums. Data files are provided to CRA each year confirming all T4A slips issued by the Plan.
Plan Members making self-payments are exempt from paying tax on their Life Insurance premiums as they pay the premiums rather than an Employer.
In 2013, CRA added Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) premiums as a taxable benefit. Consequently, T4A slips issued for 2013 and subsequent years included the cost of AD&D premiums. There are no Dependent premiums for AD&D benefits, as this benefit is only for Plan Members.
The total amount reported on each yearly Plan Member’s T4A consists of the actual amount of premiums paid to the insurance companies for the eligible Plan Member’s (and their Dependents) life insurance and AD&D benefit. Premium rates can change more than once a year. However, normally the new premium rates take effect on January 1st of each year.
Eligible Plan Members under age 65 on long-term disability may qualify for the waiver of their life insurance premiums (certain rules apply). This is known as “premium waiver.” In 2009, the Board of Trustees increased life insurance coverage for disabled Plan Members on the premium waiver. This ensured that all eligible Plan Members qualify for the same amount of life insurance. Plan Members approved for the premium waiver also receive a T4A for the amount on the “top-up” of the life insurance death benefit to the current amount.
Plan Members who were eligible through hours worked by a Contributing Employer should ensure that they provide a current address to the Fund Office at the beginning of each calendar year. This will guarantee the Plan Member’s T4A slip is mailed to the proper address. Address changes can be made by calling the Fund Office directly to report the new address, or by mail or email.
Posted on Jan 01, 2020 in Over the Wire
Under the Health and Welfare Plan, an eligible Plan Member and his/her Dependents may qualify for emergency out of province benefits while traveling or working out of the province/country. Although the Plan does not provide full emergency coverage, it does consider payment of the following services:
The Health and Welfare Plan will consider payment for non-elective services or treatment provided the expenses are eligible for reimbursement by the Plan Member or Dependent’s Provincial Government’s Health Plan.
Out of country emergency services for Retired Plan Members and their Dependents (residing in any province), are limited to a period of 12 consecutive weeks from the date the Plan Member and his/her Dependents leave their province of residence.
Posted on Sep 01, 2019 in Over the Wire
On May 9th, the Fund Office moved to its new location at 4211 - 95th Street NW, Edmonton Alberta T6E 5R6. The new office is located just behind the IBEW Local 424 building in Edmonton. The main entrance is located on the west side of the building. EBFA continues to lease the premises from the Local 424 Building & Benevolent Society of Edmonton.
Some benefits of the new Fund Office are as follows:
Please ensure that your mail is addressed to the new address. The Fund Office’s telephone numbers and email addresses remain the same.
Posted on Mar 01, 2019 in Over the Wire
Therefore, by using the Health and Welfare Plan to pay for the various benefits provided, the special income tax provisions associated with the Plan saves the Plan Member considerable income tax that otherwise would have been paid if the Plan Member received a higher income and used after tax money to pay for their benefits.
Using our current full benefit monthly costs of $345.00 per Plan Member, only $50.08 (the Life Insurance and Accidental Death premiums) would be added to your taxable income! The balance of $294.92 represents the value of the benefits that are provided to a Plan Member on a tax free basis.
Posted on Sep 01, 2018 in Over the Wire
Each month, signatory Employers with IBEW Local Union 424 are required to remit hours and contributions to the Health and Welfare Fund and Pension Fund on behalf of their Employees. The Employer reports hours worked by Employees on a form called the “Employer’s Report of Contribution.” The Report of Contribution along with the contributions must be received by the Fund Office on or before the 15th of the month, following the month in which the hours were worked by their Employees.
All contributions are remitted in accordance with the terms of the Collective Agreement. An Employer can remit hours and contributions for bargaining and/or non-bargaining Employees. Employers are required to remit a bargaining Employee’s straight time hours as well as any overtime hours at either time and one-half, or double time. A bargaining Employee is a person working within the classifications of employment set out in the Collective Agreement. Bargaining Employees cannot be a Director of the Employer’s company or own more than 50% of the Employer’s company. If they do, they must be reported as a “non-bargaining” Employee. Non-bargaining Employees also include Managers and/or administrative staff of the Employer. Non-bargaining hours must be remitted to the Plans in increments of either 140 or 160 hours per month, regardless of the number of hours the Employee worked.
Posted on Apr 01, 2018 in Over the Wire
It’s a busy time of year for EBFA’s claims department. Traditionally, the Fund Office sees higher claim volumes from October to March. That’s because the Plan provides maximum amounts of coverage on a calendar year basis. So, many Plan Members try to use up their health benefits in the latter months and submit those claims to the Fund Office before the end of the calendar year. The increased volume is carried over to the start of the following calendar year. Claim volumes also increased in the first quarter of the calendar year as Plan Members take advantage of the new maximums for the new year.
There are also a couple of things Plan Members can do to help with claims processing:
A Plan Member can submit claims immediately to the Fund Office after an expense is incurred rather than waiting until the end of the calendar year.
Claims processing may be delayed due to incomplete paperwork. Delay can be avoided if Plan Members have filled out all the required information on the correct direct reimbursement forms before submitting claims to the Fund Office, including signing and dating the form, attaching receipts and/or invoices, as well as including referral paperwork, if applicable. Whenever possible, EBFA claims staff will contact Plan Members and service providers to get more information and documentation necessary to complete the claim. As a last resort, the Fund Office may need to send the paperwork back to the Plan Member to obtain the required information.
Posted on Jan 01, 2018 in Bulletins
Effective March 1, 2018, all Plan Members making a self‐payment to the Electrical Industry Insurance Benefit Trust Fund of Alberta will be required to make their self‐ payment using Pre‐Authorized Debit (PAD). Using PAD will mean that Plan Members don’t have to remember to make their payment each month, thereby eliminating late self‐ payments.
All Plan Members currently making their self‐ payments by cheque, credit card, debit or on‐ line payments must complete a PAD Agreement and have this Agreement submitted to the Fund Office no later than February 28, 2018. However, we recommend Plan Members submit their Agreements earlier to ensure there is no interruption of your benefits.
The Personal Pre‐Authorized Debit (PAD) Plan Agreement can be found on our website at www.ebfa.ca, or you may obtain one from the Fund Office.
Plan Members who have submitted post‐ dated cheques that extend beyond March 1, 2018 will have them returned and Plan Members who have made online payments will be refunded their payments. You will then be required to make all future self‐payments using PAD. Plan Members currently using PAD will see no changes.
The Fund Office will continue to issue Self‐ Payment Notifications when your hour bank falls below 120 hours as a reminder that you need to make your self‐payments to continue your coverage. When you receive your Self‐ Payment Notification, print the PAD Agreement off the website and remit the Agreement before your hour bank expires. Please note that if you are providing banking information related to a joint account, both persons named on the account will need to sign the PAD Agreement.
When you sign up to make self‐payments by PAD, your monthly self‐payment will be automatically withdrawn from your account each month that you do not have sufficient hours in your hour bank. You no longer have to worry about late self‐payments.
Posted on Sep 01, 2017 in Over the Wire
Plan Members have been utilizing the benefits of the Health and Welfare Fund for the past 46 years. You and your Beneficiaries have appreciated the drug, dental, vision and supplementary health care benefits but are you aware that an Employee’s participation in a Health and Welfare Fund is on a before tax basis? Substantially all of your health benefits obtained through the Health and Welfare fund are tax-free. It is only the disability and life insurance portion of the premiums that are considered taxable benefits by the Canada Revenue Agency.
If you did not have coverage in the Health and Welfare Fund you may have chosen to obtain these benefits by buying a private policy. In order to do so you would have used your personal funds on which you have already paid tax, on average at about 30%. In Canada there is a tax credit granted for medical expenses and this does include premiums paid for health benefits. You should be aware that to qualify for this tax credit your total medical expenses must be more than 3% of your net income or $2,237, whichever is less. The tax credit of 15% is available on the remainder of your medical expenses including health premiums. This is much less than the 30% tax you paid on the money you used to pay for the premiums.
Posted on Mar 01, 2017 in Over the Wire
Starting with approximately 815 Plan Members in 1971 and rising to now provide Benefits to over 6,419 Plan Members and their families.
Throughout this period the Fund received 339 million dollars in Contributions and earned 42 million dollars of investment income on the Fund’s reserves. This has resulted in 381 million dollars of resources to provide benefits for our Plan Members. Of the 381 million dollars, 278 million was used to secure medical, dental, vision, disability, life and employee assistance benefits to Plan Members and their families. When unionized electrical workers from across North America were needed to meet Alberta’s labour needs, the Fund reciprocated 16 million dollars in Contributions to these Employees’ home Locals to ensure their Benefit Coverage remained continuous. The claims processing and administrative cost of providing these Benefits was less than 7% of the monies received by the Fund.
The Board of Trustees is proud to report that 31 million dollars remains available to provide Benefits through Plan Members’ Hour Banks and Years-of-Service Banks to help Plan Members during periods of unemployment and into their retirement. This leaves almost 30 million dollars to assist the Fund to meet its commitments in periods of higher than anticipated Benefit utilization and for future Benefit improvements.
The Fund is well positioned to continue to provide Health and Welfare Benefits well into the future.
Posted on Sep 01, 2016 in Over the Wire
This is the first in a series of planned articles that are intended to help you understand how your pension plan works.
The Electrical Industry Pension Trust Fund of Alberta (the "Plan") is a defined benefit plan designed around the concept of pooling of contri- butions and risks. This is one of the most significant advantages and strengths of defined benefit plans.
With pooling, all of the assets are held in a single trust fund account that belongs to all the Plan Members. There are no individual accounts for each Plan Member and no single Plan Member owns any specific assets or portion of the assets. There are a few significant advantages arising from the pooling of assets. Firstly, with a larger pool of assets, the Plan has access to some investments that are not available to smaller investors.
Posted on Jun 01, 2016 in Over the Wire
This newsletter is just one of the steps we’ll be taking as a direct result of the member feedback we received in our pension and benefits survey. See “Taking action” on page 3 for a summary of the action plan we’ll be rolling out. One message that came across loud and clear in the survey results is that you want more frequent communication about your plans—and that’s why we’re starting with this newsletter.
Over the Wire will cover more than just news about our plans. We’ll use it to help you better understand how our pension and benefits plans work—and how you can get full mileage from them. We’ll also explain how the plans are governed, how decisions are made, and who the experts are who help guide those decisions.