Canada expanding early pension eligibility for front-line workers

Benefits extended to firefighters, paramedics, border services

Canada expanding early pension eligibility for front-line workers

The government of Canada has announced its intent to expand early pension eligibility for key frontline safety and security workers.

Currently, only employees of Correctional Service Canada, along with members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, benefit from early retirement provisions. These allow retirement after 25 years of service without a pension reduction.

Following a recommendation received on Dec. 21, 2023, from the Public Service Pension Advisory Committee (PSPAC), the government now plans to extend these benefits to additional groups.

The groups set to benefit from this change include:

  • Firefighters (federal and territorial governments)
  • Paramedics (territorial governments)
  • Correctional service employees (territorial governments)
  • Border services officers (federal government)
  • Parliamentary protection officers (federal government)
  • Search and rescue technicians (federal government)

These proposed changes aim to provide a consistent approach in recognizing the demanding nature of duties performed by these occupational groups, said the government.

“These frontline workers play crucial roles and deserve a pension plan that reflects the demanding nature of their safety and security responsibilities.”

Pension plan serves over 400,000 members

The federal public service pension plan, established under the Public Service Superannuation Act (PSSA), currently serves over 400,000 active members as of March 31, 2023. The plan provides retirement income based on salary, pensionable service, and age.

Generally, an unreduced pension is available at age 60 or 65, depending on when an employee joined the plan, or with 30 years of service.

The Public Service Pension Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from employees, retirees, and the employer, submitted the expansion recommendation. This move follows a 2021 proposal by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat on behalf of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

Ottawa emphasized that these changes are designed to reflect the high-risk and demanding nature of the work performed by these employees.

“Providing the opportunity to retire after 25 years of service recognizes the demanding nature of the day-to-day duties for these occupational groups,” it said.

As legislative amendments are prepared for introduction in the fall, the government has committed to working with all relevant parties to expedite the process. This development represents a significant shift in the federal approach to pension eligibility, ensuring that the dedicated service of frontline safety and security workers is adequately recognized and rewarded.

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