The CEIRP Retirement Committee continues to closely monitor the impact that the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes are having on Plan members in the Film and TV sector of the entertainment industry. The Committee is very concerned about the ongoing labour unrest and its unprecedented impact on our Canadian crews. We are considering all avenues to assist members in navigating their finances through the resulting turbulence.
Support considerations, financial or otherwise:
- Employment Insurance benefits, provided you qualify
- AFC Emergency Aid: information, qualifications and application at https://afchelps.ca/strike
- Speak with your bank, mortgage holder, utility providers and insurance carriers regarding payment scheduling, including the possibility of debt consolidation
- If you are in a rental situation, review your rights under the Landlord and Tenant Board rules in your City/Province and speak about your circumstances directly with your landlord
- Inquire with your Local or Guild about a Member Assistance Plan or Employee Family Assistance Plan (MAP or EFAP) to access counselling support or to speak with a credit counsellor
- You can access to the debt management program through the Credit Counselling Society for free through Canada Life
- Speak with your Local/Guild office for any other assistance that may be available to you through your membership
- CEIRP Admin and/or your Local/Guild can provide you with a letter outlining the current circumstances for assistance in communicating with your financial institutions
Restrictions on Employer contributions:
The Rules of this group plan specifically limit access to Employer payroll contributions and the Committee is responsible for upholding those Rules.
Here is why:
Each Participating Union/Guild has an agreement with the Plan, as well as its own Collective Agreement with the Employers/Producers within their jurisdiction which govern the way contributions are made by the Employers. The bargaining that resulted in these producer contributions specified that they would be locked in until retirement. Releasing restricted contributions early would break these contracts and could negatively affect future labour negotiations, including the possible loss of these producer contributions.
Voluntary RRSP and TFSA contributions:
While the Committee does not encourage withdrawals prior to retirement as it may significantly hamper our members’ ability to retire with dignity, voluntary contributions made to the RRSP, NRSP (non-registered) and TFSA can be withdrawn at any time for any reason. Please be aware of the tax implications and withdrawal fees (if applicable). Taxes will be withheld on withdrawals from the RRSP and the amount withdrawn will be added to your income for the year. Also, due to CRA contribution limits on RRSPs, members may not be able to recontribute amounts withdrawn when they return to work. For this reason we encourage members to access funds within their TFSA first before any voluntary RRSPs are withdrawn. Contribution limits on TFSAs work differently than those for RRSPs. Principal funds that are withdrawn can be returned to the account the following year without penalty.
Canada Life will provide members with an estimate of all applicable taxes and/or appropriate Administration Fees at the time of a withdrawal request. Please call Canada Life at 1-855-729-1839 and press ‘2’ once connected. Our Group Plan number is 62724.
CEIRP’s Extreme Hardship Withdrawal (EHW):
Where members are in dire need, and after all other financial resources have been exhausted, you may contact your Local/Guild Plan Administrator for additional information about the terms of the Extreme Hardship Withdrawal (EHW) policy to determine if this option is available to you.
The Committee recently passed a motion that will allow members who can demonstrate a significant financial need to utilize the EHW Policy without an eviction notice or mortgage default as has historically been required providing certain criteria are met. This modified policy is available to members who commit to making a minimum of 5% additional voluntary contributions once the strikes are resolved and work resumes. Please contact your plan administrator for more information.
Updated on September 1, 2023: The program is in the works. We wanted members to know it’s coming but we need a bit of time to solidify the details. There will be a full announcement with all the facts and access info by the end of the month. We understand how pressing the need is and we want to be prepared to help members as much as possible. Please stay tuned.
Nobody saw this year unfolding as it has, especially on the heels of financial recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic. As a committee, we’re balancing our members’ significant needs both in the short term and in retirement. We will continue to explore all possible alternative options to assist members during this difficult time.
The National Retirement Committee