Early pension eligibility to be extended to more federal workers

The federal government plans to expand early pension eligibility to more front-line workers, Treasury Board President Anita Anand announced in Ottawa on Thursday.

In a statement, Anand said the government will introduce legislative changes this fall that will allow more public safety workers to retire after 25 years of service without a reduction in their pension.

The move is in response to recommendations made in December by the Public Service Pension Advisory Committee (PSPAC), Anand said.

Eligible employees are expected to include federal and territorial firefighters, and territorial correctional service employees and paramedics. Federal border employees, parliamentary protection officers and federal search and rescue technicians are also expected to be included in the expansion.

Front-line employees of Correctional Service Canada are already eligible for early retirement. Similar provisions are also available to members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP.

"These proposed changes will provide consistency to how the pension plan recognizes the demanding nature of day-to-day duties for these occupational groups, who have an absolutely critical role in promoting and protecting the safety and security of the population of our country," Anand told reporters Thursday.

Trucks are shown going through customs at the Ambassador Bridge.
Trucks wait to pass through customs at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont. Federal border employees are among those expected to be included in the early retirement eligibility expansion. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

PSAC pleased with announcement

In a statement, Sharon DeSousa, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), praised the announcement, adding nearly a decade of hard work and advocacy from their members has paid off.

"It's National Public Service Week, and I can't think of better news to deliver to the federal workers who keep us safe every single day," DeSousa said in the statement.

"After years of being treated like second-class workers, this legislation will offer a dignified retirement to thousands of front-line workers."

According to Anand, expanding early retirement eligibility is expected to cost the government $75 million, plus an ongoing annual cost of approximately $21 million.

Asked if there are plans to further expand eligibility, Anand said she's open to receiving recommendations from PSPAC, but said the decision announced Thursday was based on the nature of those particular jobs.

"The rationale for that particular group is as follows: the demanding and risky nature of the duty, the demanding training and certification requirements, and the lack of opportunity for public service mobilit," Anand said. "But the conversation with the PSPAC committee continues."

Most federal public servants can retire without penalty at 60 or 65, or earlier if they have 30 years of pensionable service.