Retirees' Benefits

University of Manitoba Retirees Association

Retirees  Benefits




Benefits after Age 75



 OTHER BENEFITS  (University of Manitoba Facilities and Services)




This web page has been developed to provide a quick summary of the benefit program for eligible retirees (faculty and staff). Information on insurance plans, medical and dental benefits, and access to certain University of Manitoba facilities and/or services is found on this web page.

The University of Manitoba's Staff Benefits Committee periodically deals with matters that affect retirees. A member of the UMRA's Benefits and Pensions Committee represents UMRA on the University Staff Benefits Committee.

This web page will be periodically updated to inform you of any changes in:

  • Life Insurance
  • Supplementary Health Benefits
  • Dental Benefits
  • Other Benefits: University of Manitoba Facilities and Services

This web page is designed to provide information on the main features of the insurance and other benefit programs offered to retirees by the University of Manitoba. It is for information purposes only, and is not intended to provide specific financial or legal advice. Official information may be obtained either by calling the University of Manitoba's Staff Benefits Office at 204-474-7428 or by e-mail

Things to Remember for UMRA Retirees:

  1. The retiree and/or some other family member should be familiar with the coverage available. The benefits for individuals who retired before July 1, 2004 are summarized in the brochure issued in 1999. The brochure for those who retired on and after July 1, 2004 is included in their retirement package.


  2. Personal circumstances do change. Advise the Staff Benefits Office of any address change  or change in the dependent information and/or your beneficiary designation.


  3. Claim forms for either the Supplementary Health or the Dental Plan can be obtained from the Staff Benefits Office or can be downloaded by clicking here.  Submit claims promptly to the address shown on the claim form. 


Where to Find Resources

  1. The Staff Benefits Office is located in Room 137, Education Building (Fort Garry Campus). For any inquiry phone 204-474-7428, fax 204-474-7448 or send an e-mail (


  2. Canada Life Assurance Company. Canada Life Assurance administers the supplementary health benefits for retirees of the University of Manitoba. Information about the plan, coverage or specific requests may be obtained by calling Canada Life Assurance Company  at 204-942-3589  or 1-800-565-4066 or visit the company's website at . Written inquiries may be sent to Canada Life, 60 Osborne Street North, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 1V3. For all inquiries, the University of Manitoba policy number and the retiree's six-digit employee number are required.


  3. Manitoba Blue Cross. Manitoba Blue Cross administers the dental benefits for University of Manitoba retirees.  Information about the plan may be obtained by calling 204-775-0151, within Manitoba 1-800-USE-BLUE (873-2583) or from elsewhere in Canada 1-888-596-1032.  You can also write to Manitoba Blue Cross, PO Box 1046, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 2X2 or visit their website at



Eligibility for benefits is determined on the basis of two criteria: age at the time of retirement and length of service. The documents supplied at retirement identify the plans and coverages for which a retiree became eligible.

Below is a general summary of the various retiree benefits at the University of Manitoba. With the exception of Other Benefits for which all retirees are eligible, retiree group insurance benefits (life, health and dental) vary according to the time of retirement (pre- and post- July 1, 2004) and past employment status (full-time or part-time).


Three types of group life insurance are available to eligible retirees: Basic Extended Life Insurance, Optional Extended Life Insurance and Paid-Up Life Insurance.  Basic Extended Life Insurance is available only to retirees who held a full-time position and retired before July 1, 2004. An eligible retiree is insured for an amount equal to the value of one unit of Optional Life Insurance. The premium for this unit is paid by the University and the insurance remains in effect for life. Optional Extended Life Insurance is available for those retirees who purchased optional units during employment. Those who retired after July 1, 2004 can convert their Basic Life Insurance into units of the Optional Extended Life Insurance. The Optional Extended Life Insurance terminates on the first day of the month prior to the attainment of age 71. The retiree pays the premium for optional units. Paid-Up Life Insurance preceded the Basic and Optional Extended Life Insurance Plans. Those full-time retirees who retired between September 1, 1974 and March 31, 1983, have this benefit. There was a minimum age and service requirement. The Certificate, issued at retirement, states the amount of insurance.

For specific inquiries regarding life insurance coverage, cost, etc. contact the University of Manitoba Staff Benefits Office.


Under the Supplementary Health Plan administered by Canada Life Assurance Company the duration of coverage and the premium paid are different for those who retired prior to July 1, 2004 and those who retired on or after July 1, 2004 and the levels of coverage differ for those who were employed full-time from those who were employed part-time.

For pre-July 1, 2004 retirees supplementary health coverage is provided and the full premium is paid by the University of Manitoba for the retiree, his/her spouse and any eligible dependent children. Supplementary Health coverage terminates when the retiree reaches age 75. It is suggested that retirees start considering options at least six months prior to their 75th birthday. Some Information on options is available at Health Benefits after Age 75.

For post-July1, 2004 retirees supplementary health coverage is provided for the retiree, his/her spouse, and any eligible dependent children, subject to payment of the required monthly premium. Supplementary Health coverage remains in effect for the retiree's lifetime provided the required premiums are paid. Retirees may wish to compare benefits and cost under the University of Manitoba Plan with those available on the market.

Categories and Extent of Coverage

Four categories of expenses are covered. The extent or amount of coverage provided in each category differs for full-time and part-time retired staff.

  1. Hospital  Semi-private ward care in excess of the standard ward care covered under the government hospital plan.

  2. Ambulance  Reimbursement for medically necessary emergency ambulance service.

  3. Prescription Drugs  Eligible drugs and medicines include those which require the written prescription of a physician, are dispensed by a licensed pharmacist or physician, are covered by the Prescription Drug Cost Assistance Act of Manitoba, and when the amount can be consumed within the prescribed period.

  4. Medical Benefits  Examples of partially covered expenses (included but not limited to):
      i. Services of private nurses when prescribed by a physician
      ii. Services of licensed physiotherapists and chiropractors
      iii. Rental of a wheelchair
      iv. Insulin and insulin syringes

For all retirees some expenses have a specific maximum that varies according to past employment status. The brochure received by an individual at the time of retirement provides more information but is also only a summary. For details contact the Staff Benefits Office.

There is no coverage for expenses incurred outside of Canada. Retirees travelling outside of Canada should obtain travel health insurance coverage through a personal plan. Travelling without this coverage could be very costly.

(University of Manitoba)

Report to the UMRA Executive on the 2018 Changes to the Retiree Benefit Plans submitted by the Benefits & Pensions Committee

On July 1, 2018 the University of Manitoba announced some changes in its retiree benefit plans (see Ben.chg.pdf) .  Upon looking at the changes it is clear that the first, second and fourth changes (re: the extension of the coverage for a surviving spouse, hearing aid coverage and prescription coverage) are improvements to retirees benefits.  This report is concerned with the third change i.e. in paramedical coverage.  Prior to July 1 the coverage for the eleven specialties mentioned was as follows:

1. For each of physiotherapists/athletic therapists, chiropractors and podiatrists 80% of the first $500 of covered healthcare expenses and 100% thereafter. We refer to this group of specialties as C below.

2. For the other eight specialties (i.e. acupuncturists, dieticians, massage therapists, naturopaths, occupational therapists, osteopaths, psychologists/social workers and speech therapists): no coverage.  We refer to this group of specialties as NC below. 


1. For each of the eight specialties in the group labeled NC the changes represent a gain in coverage.
2. For those in the group labeled C the situation is not as simple.  To be more specific we assume below that a retiree uses only physiotherapy among these three specialties (the same words will apply to either of the other two specialties in this group).  Then:

i) up to $600 of covered healthcare expenses the coverage is the same as before
ii) above $600 there is no coverage. 

Clearly the gap between the coverage for those in C between the coverage before July 1 and after grows bigger as their expenses get farther above $600. It is noted that both comments re the changes in benefits that occurred on July 1 and were received before the meeting of the Benefits & Pensions Committee on October 17 concerned the changes in physiotherapy coverage. A third comment was received after the meeting.  It also concerned physiotherapy.  It is included because the sender spoke to someone in Human Resources directly.  His comment (if quoted correctly) was that there was ‘no real demand expressed by Retirees about this coverage for physiotherapy and similar medical services and in the negotiation with Great-West Life this coverage was greatly reduced.’

                                                                                                                          DENTAL BENEFITS (Blue Cross)

Under the dental plan administered by the Manitoba Blue Cross the premium paid differs for those who retired prior to July 1, 2004 and those who retired on or after July 1, 2004 and the levels of coverage differ for those who were employed full-time from those who were employed part-time.

For pre-July 1, 2004 retirees the University of Manitoba pays the full premium of the dental coverage for the retiree, his/her spouse, and any eligible dependent children. Dental coverage remains in effect for the retiree's lifetime.

For post-July 1, 2004 retirees dental coverage is provided for the retiree, his/her spouse, and any eligible dependent children, subject to payment of the required monthly premium. Dental coverage remains in effect for the retiree's lifetime provided the required premiums are paid.

Dental coverage, which is based on the Manitoba Dental Fee Guide, includes three categories of services.

  1. Basic Examples of some of the services included are: oral examinations, clinical examinations, x-rays, endodontics, dental surgery.


  2. Major Examples include dentures and crowns.


  3. Orthodontics This coverage is only provided for eligible dependent children up to age 19, provided work commenced prior their 18th birthday. There is a lifetime maximum per eligible dependent child.


The retiree pays for the dental service and following submission of the charges (based on the Manitoba Dental Fee Guide) by the dentist to Blue Cross, the retiree is reimbursed at the level defined in the plan for the type of service and based on the previous employment status (full-time or part-time) of the retiree. All services are subject to an annual calendar year maximum. For details refer to the specific retiree group listed above.  The brochure provided at retirement provides a detailed list of expenses covered and those not covered.


Specific information provided by the University of Manitoba for each eligible retiree group may be viewed by clicking on one of these two categories:

Full-time Retired Staff (Before & After) July 1, 2004)

Part-time Retired Staff (Before & After) July 1, 2004)


OTHER BENEFITS  (University of Manitoba Facilities and Services)




1900 UNTIL 2014

Any pension plan is better than no pension plan. All plans are built to provide some security on retirement. All plans are built to offer some protection for uncertainty. When the unusual happens, like the 2008 financial shenanigans in New York, the plans shudder but they are supposed to survive. While some plans did not, our plan did.

So how did our pension plans evolve? Until December 1949, there was no plan.

There are two basic types of plans, Defined Benefit (DB) and Defined Contribution (DC) Plans. The difference is who holds the short end of the stick when things go wrong. Under a DB Plan contributions are made monthly and at retirement the retiree gets the formula pension regardless of how much money is available. The employer has the risk and they have to cough up the money to cover what the formula pension says the retiree is entitled to receive. Under the DC plan contributions are made and the individuals receive whatever has accrued in the account regardless of how much or how little there is at the time. The individuals carry the risk. Some plans are mixtures of these two concepts.

When you retire your pension reflects your history in the plan. Your personal account reflects your changing circumstances as well as the evolution of the plan. For those specific conditions, please see your staff benefit representative. If you want someone to help you clarify your questions, you might ask members of UMRA Pensions and Benefits committee.

The purpose of this document is to describe the broad development and growth of our plans, not the details.

Ernie Vogt, head of the Department of Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics, Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, member for many years of the U of M pension committee, was very instrumental in establishing our first plan. Vogt described the introduction of the first plan of December 1949. A member of the U of M board of governors who was also a vice president of Great West Life (GWL), presented the first plan to the Board of Governors. Not surprisingly it was a GWL administered plan. The Board approved.

The Retirement Plan was a DC plan. The employees paid a regular contribution of six percent and the University paid a six percent contribution over the life of an employee's working time. However, the University contribution started with a modest contribution for young employees and much larger contributions as an employee approached retirement age. Because a high proportion of the employees were younger at the start of the plan, the university’s contribution was low. Also if an employee left well before retirement the cumulative cost to the U was reduced considerably.

Upon retirement the cumulative funds were “put in the individuals hands” and the person sought, with U help if requested, an annuity from an authorized company like GWL. The individual received a set of payouts, usually monthly. The amount of the payout was determined by the interest rate at the time of retirement.

In 1965-1966 the Canada Pension Plan started. The individual continued paying six percent with the required amount going to the CPP fund and the rest going to the U of M Plan.

In the late 60’s there were moves to change the pension plan. The major change was to devise a plan with a minimum pension (like a DB plan) that could pay out more if a retiree’s account had benefited positively from a good investment return over the retiree’s employment history. Changes were proposed, agreed to by the Pension Committee, then the Board and eventually the provincial government had a say. The pension funds for all faculty and staff were administered together. This culminated in the 1970 Pension Plan.

 The 1970 Plan had a rough start at the approval stage. The provincial government insisted on several changes. The result was that less money went into the plan than was initially proposed and that the employees could not make up for any lower contributions in their younger years.

The Plan included hiring outside managers to invest the money in various investment vehicles. Over the years, the Plan hired specialists to recommend the distribution of the fund to various asset classes (e.g. 30% mortgages, 30% bonds and 40% stocks). In addition to mortgages, stocks and bonds the asset classes have also included real estate and foreign holdings.

On retirement a university employee could take the funds he or she received and place them with an authorized company, put the funds into an annuity or take a fixed pension similar to what was offered in the original Pension Plan. This broader selection of options in the 1970 plan was welcomed by the employees.

In 1993 the plan was revised again and titled the University Plan 1993. ‘The major differences between the 1993 Plan and the 1970 Plan are an additional 1% contribution from both the members and the University and the introduction of the concept of a “Plan Annuity” whereby the monthly pension after retirement may be paid out of the Plan rather than having to purchase an annuity[1]’.

An additional option to those previously cited was that on retirement one could leave an agreed proportion with the University Plan and receive a monthly payment based on those funds. Now, besides the options of leaving funds with the plan or purchasing an annuity, an employee on retiring can alternatively choose a Sun Life Group Retirement Income Plan, a Locked-in Retirement Account (LIF), a Prescribed Registered Retirement Income Fund (PRIF), or an RRSP vehicle as permitted.

UMFA proposed that a cost of living clause be included in the 1993 plan. The COLA provision was impossible because of the hybrid nature of the plan. Inflation protection for those retiree’s who left their funds with the Plan, would come from the ongoing investment experience of those funds.

Because of the 2008-2009 financial mess created primarily in New York and subsequent developments, some pension plans have been in trouble. Our pension fund was quite impacted but has recently recovered on the equity side. The experience also led to an increase in the contribution to nine percent for both the employee and the employer. The retiree portion of the fund also struggles with the economic conditions and the selection bias of individuals choosing to leave, or not to leave, funds with the plan on retirement.

The University pension plan has evolved over the years. Certainly there have been improvements from an employee’s standpoint. Overall the plan is better prepared to withstand future shocks, from whichever direction that they may come.





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July 15, 2021