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Canada Life apologizes to federal public servants for health insurance claim problems

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The federal government’s health insurance provider is apologizing to federal civil servants for poor service.

Since Canada Life took over in July, current and former public service employees have reported numerous problems, including having prescriptions refused and slow customer service wait times.

"We get complaints every single day regarding Canada Life," said Chris Aylward, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

Approximately 1.7 million federal workers, retirees and their dependents are covered by Canada Life. Many say they’ve experienced long wait times or have been denied insurance claims.

On Thursday, Canada Life appeared before a committee in the House of Commons. The insurance provider apologized for the problems and said it has increased staffing at its call and claims processing centres to reduce wait times.

"Our action plan is working," said senior vice president of Canada Life Ryan Weiss. "Call wait times as noted are now an average of approximately one to three minutes, claims are being processed within approximately two days and our top priority now is maintaining service levels."

Della Wilkison, a retiree in Ottawa covered with Canada Life, was having problems getting her insulin pump supplies, the reservoirs for delivering her insulin.

The problems were resolved after talking to CTV News in October.

"I was on the phone for three hours before being cut off. Now, when I’ve called more recently, the phone was answered within half-an-hour so I think they really have improved," she said.

In a statement to CTV News, Canada Life says they are continuing to make improvements.

"We understand how important these benefits are to individuals and have established an urgent cases escalation process as part of our customer service action plan so that every customer under this plan has access to their benefits," said a Canada Life spokesperson in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

PSAC says it still hears from members frustrated with the service.

"A single mom who pays $800 a month for life saving diabetic supplies and has to fight with Canada Life every month to get reimbursed – that’s not good enough," said Aylward.

"That apology, our members can’t take that to the bank."

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