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Pension enrolment grievance against Canadian Blood services dismissed


April 12, 2024

A Saskatoon employee’s union argued on her behalf that her employer did not sufficiently inform her about the opportunity to join the company pension plan. The union was unsuccessful, and the employee will not receive eight years of retroactively paid employer contributions.

When the employee was hired in 2011, she received an offer letter outlining her eligibility to enroll in either a company defined benefit or defined contribution plan after three months of service. The offer letter further indicated that if she chose not to enroll in either plan, she would be required to sign a Declaration of Non-Participation (the “Declaration”), failure of which would deem her to have declared non-participation. The offer letter was signed and returned by the employee.

Based on the pension plan texts, the relevant collective agreement, and the Saskatchewan Pension Benefits Act, the employer was obligated to supply the employee with a summary of the pension plans within 60 days of, but no later than 30 days before, the employee becoming eligible for enrollment. Despite indications that the employer missed this deadline, the employer later informed the employee of her pension options in the subsequent year via a letter, which also included an option to repurchase pension credits due to the employer’s apparent mistake. The employer sent this letter through the interoffice mail system. After not receiving a response, the employer sent another letter confirming that the employee was deemed to have signed the Declaration.

In 2019, the employee realized she was not a member of either pension plan and went to her union, which filed a grievance arguing that the employer breached the collective agreement by inadequately informing the grievor about her pension options and should cover the employer contributions to a DB plan from 2011 to 2019. The Arbitrator dismissed the grievance, finding that while the employer breached the pension plan by not providing the employee with a summary of the pension plans within 60 days, and 30 days before, the employee became eligible for enrollment, the employer cured such breach by transmitting letters containing the appropriate information and an option to buy back service the following year.

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