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Hidden "bridge benefit" perk amounts to an extra $8,000 per year

Toronto, March 3, 2016 – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling for an end to the unfair and costly “bridge benefit” perk – a little known incentive for government workers who retire early.

When workers in the private sector choose to take CPP/QPP early, they receive a lower benefit for the rest of their lives. For most public sector workers, however, the bridge benefit essentially ensures that they receive their full CPP/QPP benefits even if they retire well before age 65.

“Government workers already enjoy much more generous pension benefits than most Canadians could dream of,” said Dan Kelly, CFIB president. “Asking taxpayers to give even more so government workers can get those rich benefits sooner is, frankly, completely unfair.”

The bridge benefit varies across public sector pension plans and can benefit a typical government worker an amount in the range of $7,400 to $8,800 in 2015. In 2010-2011, about 55,000 federal civil servants received the perk at a total cost of more than $385 million. "With massive deficits ahead for most provinces and the federal government, making changes to this entitlement for the future could provide meaningful fiscal relief," Kelly added.

More than 80 per cent of public sector retirees who left the workforce between 2007-2011 did so before age 65, compared to 60 per cent of private sector retirees, and 47 per cent of self-employed.

 

Annual Bridge Benefit Amounts under Provincial and Federal Public Sector Plans – 2015

Name of PlanAnnual Bridge Benefit Amount
   
   
British ColumbiaPublic Service Pension Plan$8,190 
AlbertaPublic Service Pension PlanN/A
SaskatchewanThe Public Employees Pension PlanN/A
ManitobaCivil Service Superannuation PlanN/A
OntarioPublic Service Pension Plan$8,607 
QuébecGovernment and Public Employees Retirement Plan$8,373 
New BrunswickPublic Service Shared Risk Plan$8,327 
Prince Edward IslandThe Civil Service Superannuation Fund$8,820 
Nova ScotiaPublic Service Superannuation Plan$8,373 
Newfoundland and LabradorPublic Service Pension Plan$7,378 
FederalPublic Service Pension Plan$7,476 

Note: This table is an example of the Bridge Benefit amount for a public sector worker retiring in 2014 at age 60 with 24 years of pensionable service and an average salary of $60,000.

 

“Some government organizations, including the Bank of Canada, have already seen the light, finding the bridge benefit to be unsustainable, and have eliminated it from their plans,” added Kelly. “CFIB recommends that governments across the country follow suit and move quickly to return fairness and sustainability to the public sector pension system. It’s time to take this bridge down.”

To arrange an interview with Dan Kelly, please contact Ryan Mallough at 416-222-8022, or [email protected].

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.