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Bell Canada to eliminate retiree benefits by 2018


MONTREAL--Bell Canada Inc. will begin eliminating retiree health care, dental, vision and life insurance benefits for future retirees starting in 2012, the company said.

The Montreal-based telecommunications giant said it would phase out these benefits over the next 10 years. Eligible employees retiring before Jan. 1, 2012, will continue to receive the benefits, while employees retiring between Jan. 1, 2012, and Jan. 1, 2017, will be entitled to company-paid medical coverage until they reach age 65.

After Jan. 1, 2017, retiring employees will not be entitled to company-paid benefits but will have access to optional health plans.

A company spokeswoman declined comment on the costs of providing retiree benefits, but said the program "no longer reflects the competitive realities of our marketplace" because no other telecommunications company in Canada offers extensive retiree benefits.

Pension plans will not be affected by the change, the spokeswoman noted.

Another major Canadian employer, Toronto-based Sears Canada Inc., announced last month it would not provide post-retirement medical, dental and life insurance benefits for employees who have not become eligible for the benefits by Dec. 31, 2008.