Eligibility and Coverage

(These pages are being re-written and will be updated shortly. Until updated, the text may not be accurate)

To qualify for coverage, you have to …

  • be a member in good standing of a Carpenters’ Local Union affiliated with CMAW Council of Carpenters,
  • complete and file the Benefit Option Selection and enrolment forms with the CMAW Benefit Plan of B.C., and
  • have at least 200 hours reported and paid to the Plan by a contributing employer within an 11 consecutive month period.

If you are no longer a member in good standing of a Carpenters’ Local Union affiliated with CMAW Council for any reason, you will lose your benefits and your Hour Bank.

The Benefit Plan has two options, each offering different coverage:




Medical Services Plan
Group Life Insurance
Extended Health Care
Dental / Optical / Hearing Aids
Travel Assistance
Dependent Group Life
Bereavement Leave
Short Term Disability Benefit for non-occupational disabilities
Hour Bank Credit Assistance while in receipt of Wage Indemnity
Hour Bank Credit Assistance while in receipt of WCB Wage Loss
Hour Bank Credit Assistance while in receipt of EI Sickness Benefit
Long Term Disability Benefit for non-occuational disabilities


It is important to make your choice of option carefully because you cannot change your mind for four years unless you have a life event change.

Your coverage will start on the first day of the month following the month in which the Plan Office has received 200 hours reported and paid on your behalf from a participating employer, provided that the Plan Office has received your enrolment forms.

Example: If you work 200 hours in the months of April and May, your employer will report them in the months of May and June and your coverage will begin on July 1.

You will get a letter from the Benefit Plan telling you that your coverage has started.

The Benefit Plan covers …

  • you
  • your married or common-law spouse (one-year waiting period for common-law spouses)
  • your unmarried children, if they are under 19 (MSP Plus Plan) or under age 21 (Regular Plan) and financially dependent on you
  • your unmarried dependent children who are over 21 but under 25 (Regular Plan) and in full-time attendance at a recognized school or university (annual proof required).

How to maintain your coverage

Every hour reported and paid by your employer is added to your Hour Bank, a running total maintained by the Benefit Plan office.

Each month, the Plan deducts 100 hours from your Hour Bank. You can accumulate up to 1,200 hours in your bank, enough to keep you covered for 12 months, even if you are unable to work.

If you become self-employed, or find a job outside of covered employment, you can still maintain your coverage by self-paying for a maximum of 18 months. After this 18 month period you must have a minimum of one employer-paid month to qualify for further self-payments.

When you retire, and your hour bank drops below 100 hours, you will have the option of converting to an individual plan of your choice, the premiums of which will be your responsibility.

If you don’t have 100 hours in your bank at the end of the month …

… the Plan will mail you a “Billing for Shortage of Hours” notice. You will have the option to self-pay for the following month.

Unless you pay by the 20th of that month, even if you return to work in the meantime, you risk losing coverage. So be sure to pay the billing notice by the due date. Note that the Plan Office will not backdate your coverage.

If you are receiving Workers’ Compensation or the E.I. Sickness Benefit …

… and you are covered under the employer-paid Full Plan, you should apply for hour bank credits, at the rate of five hours per day, up to a maximum of 1,000 hours if you are getting Workers’ Compensation, or up to a maximum of 375 hours if you are getting the E.I. Sickness Benefit.

To apply, get a claim form from your local union office, the Plan Office, or download it from our Benefit Forms page. You will need to include cheque stubs from Workers’ Compensation or Employment Insurance.

The credits can only be used to maintain coverage that is already active and cannot applied to reinstate coverage that has already terminated. Also, you cannot use them to become eligible if you are not already covered.

If you become disabled while you are covered by the Benefit Plan, and you are approved for CPP Disability Benefits and/or the Carpentry Workers’ Pension Plan Disability Pension …

… you will have two options:

  • buy the Full Self-pay Plan at $100 per month
  • buy the Mini Self-pay Plan at $54 per monthNote that you must continue to be a local union member in good standing to qualify for the Full Self-pay or the Mini Self-pay Plan.

If you move outside B.C. …

… there are three ways to maintain your coverage:

  • If you will be living outside B.C. but still working in the province, with a participating employer contributing and reporting for you, then your coverage will continue.
  • If you will be joining a new union local, you may be eligible to take advantage of reciprocity agreements between the CMAW Benefit Plan and some other plans throughout Canada. These agreements let you transfer hours between your B.C. hour bank and your new local. Reciprocity agreements can also allow you to work in a different province but keep your B.C. benefits for up to a year.

And if your employer sends you to work outside B.C., but keeps making contributions and reporting on your behalf, then you and your dependents can still be covered.

In each case, there are crucial steps you have to take immediately. For complete information, contact the Plan Office.

Making changes

As time goes on, you’ll need to keep us informed of changes in your life.

  • If your address changes, notify the Plan Office immediately. Legally, shortage notices or other material that we mail to your last known address are considered to have been duly received by you. So make sure that address is the right one! (And be sure to include your Member Number on any correspondence with the Plan.) Please note that retired members must submit the change of address in writing.
  • To add or delete a dependent, get a Group Change Form from your local, the Plan Office or download it from our Benefit Forms page. Complete and send it to us within 30 days. Remember, only those dependents whom you have registered with us will be covered.
  • If you change employers, don’t worry. As long as your new employer contributes and reports on your behalf, we’ll know about it.

Ending coverage

Your coverage will end on the last day of any month when your hour bank balance drops below 100 hours, and you fail to pay your shortage notice. It also ends on the last day of the month in which you lose your union membership.