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Canadian employers reconsidering retiree benefits


More than half of Canadian employers are considering eliminating retiree health benefits, while 22% are considering reducing their contributions to retiree health benefits, according to a recent study.

The average cost of providing group benefits to retirees is $1,543 Canadian ($1,454) per year, and employers are looking for ways to curtail these costs in light of changes to accounting rules that have increased the liabilities created by postretirement benefits, according to the study released by Toronto-based Aon Consulting Canada.

While employers' health care costs have increased significantly in recent years, study respondents anticipate their next cost increase will be held to less than 10%, possibly reflecting cost-control efforts employers have utilized in recent years, such as searching for more competitive insurers or claims administrators, introducing health and safety programs, and additional auditing of their benefit programs.

More than 15% of employers reported increasing employee contributions to plan premiums in the past two years. In 2007, at least 25% of employers plan to increase employee premium contributions, according to the study.