Skip to Content

Canada Life Faces Sanctions Over Service Delays in Government Health Plan

Government Implements Sanctions Amidst Service Failures

The federal government has taken decisive action against Canada Life by imposing financial sanctions following widespread complaints from public servants and retirees about the handling of their medical claims. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has activated financial consequence mechanisms under the contract to address significant startup delays by Canada Life. This move comes after persistent issues were reported by beneficiaries, including delayed claim responses and unexplained denials, which have left many struggling for coverage.

A union leader poses for a photo in an office.
Pamela Isfeld, president and chair of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, says Canadian foreign service officers have reported challenges accessing health-care coverage since MSH International took over administration of out-of-country claims. (Jean-Francois Benoit/CBC)

Canada Life Struggles with Transition, Prompting Government Action

Since the transition of the public service health insurance plan from Sun Life to Canada Life on July 1, 2023, there have been numerous challenges. Despite a six-month grace period intended to allow Canada Life to establish effective service levels under a $514-million contract, the company has struggled to meet expectations. The ongoing collaboration efforts between the government and Canada Life aim to improve service standards, yet PSPC has had to proceed with penalties due to insufficient progress.

A woman in a field full of oddly shaped rocks
Sonia Rioux says she’s still waiting for a refund of medical expenses from a trip to Australia in July. (Courtesy Sonia Rioux)

Broader Impact and Calls for Systematic Change

The sanctions are seen as a preliminary step towards rectifying the issues, with further actions anticipated if improvements are not realized. Stakeholders, including union representatives and affected public servants, view these measures as necessary to prompt a significant change in how services are delivered, particularly for overseas coverage which has been notably inadequate. Meanwhile, the federal government continues to work closely with Canada Life, urging them to fulfill their contractual obligations and restore trust among public service members whose healthcare coverage depends on this plan.

A woman in a blue blazer speaks in a press conference room.
President of the Treasury Board Anita Anand speaks during a news conference, in Ottawa on Jan. 29. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)