Bridging to Retirement Program

On November 2, 2021 government announced an updated Bridging to Retirement program as part of a suite of forest industry supports for impacted workers across B.C. resulting from the Old Growth deferral decisions.

Intake is now open for full time forestry mill workers or forest dependent contractors and their employees who are 55 years or older to transition to retirement.

You could be eligible for up to $75,000 in combined retirement bridging funding based on your years of experience, age at retirement and employer contribution.

On this page:

All applicants

The updated Bridging to Retirement Program application intake is open for any old growth deferral decision impacted full time forestry mill workers, or forest dependent contractors and their employees.  

The province is committed to supporting workers during the old growth deferral process in the forest industry. This program is designed to support mill and forest dependent contractors and their workers aged 55 and older who are impacted by the old growth deferral process. This will help them transition to retirement and keep their communities strong.

The application intake is now open for workers of B.C. forest mills and workers of forest dependent contractors. The intake for owners of forest dependent contracting businesses will open in February 2022.

Eligibility

You may be eligible for retirement bridging benefits if you are impacted by the old growth deferral decision because you work for any B.C. forest industry mill or are an employee of a B.C. forest dependent contractor in B.C.

Forest dependent business owners who are 55 years of age or older will be eligible for the program. Application intake for them will open in February 2022.

Eligibility Criteria for a B.C. mill worker or employee of a forest dependent contractor in B.C. who is impacted by an old growth deferral decision:

  1. You are a full-time worker in any B.C. mill or an employee of a forest dependent contractor
  2. You are 55 years of age or older when you apply
  3. You worked at a B.C. mill or for a forest dependent contractor for the last 2 consecutive years
  4. You were displaced on or after Nov 2, 2021, due to an old growth deferral decision or pause in BC Timber Sales resulting in a permanent or indefinite closure or a curtailment of at least 4 months
  5. After you have applied and you receive confirmation of your eligibility from the program, you must agree to permanently vacate your position and relinquish all seniority with the employer.
  6. To receive retirement bridge funding, you must agree to not work as an employee in B.C. for a period of at least 18 months.

What you need to apply

To submit a complete application, you are required to provide the following documentation (copies are acceptable). Please ensure you have these documents available before submitting your application.

  • One of the following pieces of identification: birth certificate, driver's license, Canadian citizenship, permanent resident, or passport identification
  • Income tax returns for the previous two years
  • Two most recent pay slips
  • One T4
  • A Record of Employment or a letter from your employer confirming your employment
    • You may also obtain a copy of a Record of Employment through the Government of Canada’s “My Service Canada Account” website, where you will need to follow the steps to create an account, then request your Record of Employment
    • Once you create an account you can also view and print your T4s

The intake for owners of forest dependent contracting businesses will open in February 2022.

For more information, please phone, toll free, 1 844 478-0822, or email to LBR.ForestryWorker@gov.bc.ca.

How to apply

The application intake is now open for full time B.C. forest mill workers and employees who work for a forest dependent contractor who have been impacted by an old growth deferral decision with job loss, indefinite curtailment, or shift reductions.

Please ensure that you meet the following 2021 bridging to retirement eligibility criteria prior to submitting your application.

Submit your application

In-person:

Please visit a local Service BC office to access online form at a computer kiosk.

By mail:

If you require assistance filling out an application online, do not have a computer, or wish to fill out a paper copy, please visit a Service BC office or call Service BC at 1 844 901-0970.

After the online application has been completed, supporting application documentation can be mailed to:

Bridging to Retirement
Ministry of Labour
PO Box 9594
Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC
V8W 9K4

Frequently asked questions

Eligibility information

Eligibility Criteria for a B.C. mill worker or employee of a forest dependent contractor in B.C. who is impacted by an old growth deferral decision or pause on BC Timber Sales:

  • You are a full-time worker in any B.C. mill or an employee of a forest dependent contractor
  • You are 55 years of age or older when you apply
  • You worked at a B.C. mill or for a forest dependent contractor for the last 2 consecutive years
  • You were displaced on or after Nov 2, 2021, due to an old growth deferral decision or pause in BC Timber Sales resulting in a permanent or indefinite closure or a curtailment of at least 4 months

A forest dependent contractor is a business that derives 60% or more of its business income/revenue from work in the forest industry. All employees of a forest dependent contractor can apply if they are impacted by an old growth deferral decision.

 

3. How much of an Old Growth Deferral Bridging Benefit am I eligible for? What if I'm 65+?

The maximum amount available for 55-year-old employees with 15 or more years of experience is $75,000. The maximum amount available declines by $5,000 per year until age 65. To receive the maximum amount, you must have 15 years or more of experience in the forestry sector. The actual benefit amount will be determined based on the eligibility criteria, your age and specific individual history and any employer contribution for compensation for length of service under the Employment Standards Act.

Yes, workers are eligible if they were displaced on or after Nov 2, 2021, due to an old growth deferral decision or pause on BC Timber Sales resulting in permanent or indefinite closure or a curtailment of at least 4 months.

This program is designed to support full-time forest mill workers or employees of a forestry dependent contractor in B.C. who are impacted because of an old growth deferral decision, resulting in job loss, indefinite curtailment, or shift reduction on or after Nov 2, 2021.

The Bridging to Retirement Program is designed to help support forestry mill workers or employees of forestry dependent contractors and communities impacted by the old growth deferral process leading to job loss, indefinite curtailments and permanent mill closures or work reduction. 

In 2022, there will be new intake windows opened for specified periods specifically for voluntary retirees to apply. When a voluntary window opens for applications, your target retirement date must be within 6 months in the future.

 

7. My last two years of employment were not consecutive, as I worked for different forest dependent contractors over 2 years and had one or more breaks in employment or I was laid off a few months during a temporary closure. Am I eligible to apply?

You may still be eligible if you had gaps in work during those two years, depending on whether you were attached to the forestry sector in BC and the reason for those gaps. Collecting Employment Insurance is an acceptable reason for a gap in consecutive employment. Other acceptable reasons include, but are not necessarily limited to medical leave, maternity/paternity leave and jury duty.  The program will evaluate reasons for gaps on a case-by-case basis, so you are encouraged to apply and provide as much supporting documentation as possible.

 

Application process information 

The Bridging to Retirement Program is intended, over the next 4 years, to support impacted forest mill workers and employees of forest dependent contractors who, because of an old growth deferral decision, experienced job loss, indefinite curtailment, or shift reduction. 

The application intake is now open for workers of B.C. forestry mills and workers of forestry dependent contractors. 

The intake for owners of forest dependent contracting businesses will open in February 2022.

Those workers who wish to apply to retire voluntarily will have an opportunity to do so during a specific intake time in 2022. The application intake date will be communicated in the future. 

While the process is intended to be as quick as possible, the length of time may vary for each person depending on the completeness of the information provided and any information that may be needed from you or your employer. 

Please be aware that any benefit you may be eligible for will not be paid until after application approval and payment information is confirmed. If you have not yet retired, payment is not made until after your retirement date.

 

10. The application requires income tax returns to be provided. Is the entire income tax return, including schedules and worksheets required? Can I just provide a notice assessment?

The program requires a recent T4 slip and 2 years of income tax returns to show all income sources and verify as an employee that your primary income is from a B.C. Forestry Mill or from a forest dependent contractor. This cannot be determined from just a Notice of Assessment and T4. The program requires a copy of your return, also called an “Income Tax and Benefit Return” by the CRA, which is usually 3-4 pages (example) but does not require the supporting schedules and worksheets. A copy of the electronic filing of your return is also acceptable.

Please note: if you have already provided a Notice of Assessment, it may be used later by the program to confirm RRSP confirmation room if your application is approved, and you want your benefit to go towards your RRSP.

 

11. What are the steps after the application has been submitted?

The program will send you a confirmation letter by email or mail once your application is received. The program will contact you if there is any missing information to ensure your application is complete. Completed applications will be reviewed to determine whether you are eligible. A letter will be sent to inform you of your eligibility and if there is funding available. If you are eligible, the letter will include the eligible benefit amount and describe next steps. 

 

12. If my application is approved, will I be informed of the amount before I make my final decision to receive the funding?

Yes, the program receives the application (including supporting documents) and for some applicants may work with your employer to obtain additional information. Upon confirming your eligibility and receiving any additional information from the employer, the program will calculate the bridging benefit and send a letter to inform you of the bridging amount. You will be required to provide written, signed confirmation of your retirement date and acceptance of your obligations for receiving the benefit.

  1. After you have applied and you receive confirmation of your eligibility from the program, you must agree to permanently vacate your position and relinquish all seniority with the employer
  2. To receive retirement bridge funding, you must agree to not work as an employee in B.C. for a period of at least 18 months
  3. You can start or run your own business during those 18 months

 

Payment and RRSP information

The timing of the benefit payment depends on your retirement date and when the program receives your direction for the payment. If you are approved, you will be provided with a Direction to Pay form so you can direct the bridging benefit portion to be paid via cheque, direct deposit and/or as an RRSP contribution. Payments cannot be made until the Program receives both your completed form and confirmation that you have retired. You can cancel your application any time prior to the program receiving your completed Direction to Pay form.

Once your eligibility has been confirmed and the benefit amount calculated, you can direct the bridging benefit portion to be paid via cheque, direct deposit and/or as a contribution to your RRSP.

  • To receive funds by direct deposit, you will need to provide banking information to the program.
  • To make contributions to your RRSP, you will be required to provide RRSP transfer information, along with the most recent income tax Notice of Assessment for you, prior to receiving the payment. The Notice of Assessment is mailed each year after submitting your income tax return. On the Assessment, the ‘Available Contribution Room’ section shows the available RRSP contribution amount for the next year.
  • When your application is processed there may be other options to direct how you receive your benefit.
 

16. Will I have to pay taxes on the bridging benefit amount that I receive?

The bridging benefit is a taxable benefit; the taxes to be paid will depend on how you choose to direct the payment between a cheque, direct deposit or as a contribution to your RRSP.  You may be able to add it to your or your spousal RRSP if contribution space is available, however it is recommended that you seek tax advice to understand any tax impact in your situation.

No, receiving the bridging benefit does not require that you start taking your pension. The Bridging to Retirement Program is intended to support you in your transition to retirement.

A forest dependent contractor is a business that derives 60% or more of its business income/revenue from work in the forest industry.

All employees of forest dependent contractors can apply if they are impacted by an old growth deferral decision.