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Pension and Group Benefits

Nova Scotia's Early Learning and Child Care Sector will have consistent and equitable access to Pension and Benefits


Benefits at a glance Resources

child care worker and young boy laughing


  • The sector is joining a defined benefit pension plan offered through CAAT and a comprehensive group benefits plan (medical, dental, orthodontic, vision, life and long-term disability coverage, EFAP, emergency travel coverage) through the Health Association of Nova Scotia (HANS).
  • Plans will follow employees no matter where they work as long as they remain eligible and employed by a provincially licensed and funded child care centre or family home agency in Nova Scotia participating in the HANS and CAAT plans.
  • Operators and their employees will be onboarded to these new plans over the next 12 months, beginning in May 2024 and completed by December 2024. Employees will receive a one-time retroactive employer pension contributions to January 1, 2024, regardless of when they enrol.
  • The province will fund operators for 100% of employer contributions towards HANS and CAAT plans.
  • Licensed family home child care providers will receive grant funding to purchase their own health benefits and support their contributions to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan.
  • Wages will increase for ECEs working in provincially licensed and funded child care centres and family home child care agencies on April 1, 2024. This adjustment is in addition to regular public sector economic increases that ECEs began receiving last year. The updated wage scale is now available.

Benefits at a glance

A defined benefit pension plan

100% coverage for prescription drugs (less dispensing fee)

100% coverage for dental cleanings and checkups (one per calendar year for adults and 2 per year for children)

Eye exams plus up to $345 for glasses/contacts every 2 years

Up to $1,500 for paramedical practitioners

Life insurance, long term disability insurance, orthodontics, EFAP, and more



Learn more about your providers


Information Packages

Pension plan Group Benefits


CAAT Pension

Go to the web site »


Health Association of Nova Scotia

Go to the web site »

ECEs will receive a wage increase on April 1, 2024. 

Learn more


Sector Calls

29 January 2024 : Hans Payworks Payroll Demo
Sector call (video)

22 January 2024 : Details about funding for benefits (Family Home Child Care Agencies and Providers) 
Slide deck (PDF)

11 January 2024 : Details about benefits, plans and next steps (Employee Information Call) 
Slide deck (PDF)

4 January 2024, 9 January 2024 : Information about transitioning your organization and employees onto plans.  
Slide deck (PDF)| Sector call (video)

20 December 2023 : Information about benefits, plans, and what comes next.  
Slide deck (PDF) | Afternoon sector call (video) | Evening sector call (video)

10 May 2023 : Benefits & Retirement Update  
Slide deck (PDF)

11 October 2022 : Benefits & Retirement Update  
Sector call (video) | Slide deck (PDF)



Group Benefits and Defined Benefit Pension Plans

A defined benefit pension plan is being provided through CAAT, which means:  

  • Predictable and guaranteed retirement income, for life 
  • Inflation protection 
  • Survivor benefits 
  • Early retirement features 
  • A fully funded and sustainable pension that is not reliant on the financial health of any one employer 

A comprehensive group benefits plan through the Health Association of Nova Scotia (HANS), including: 

  • Health, Dental, Life and Disability Insurance for employees 
  • Health, Dental and Life Insurance for an employees’ spouse and dependent children 
  • Access to the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) 
  • Emergency Travel Coverage 

  • The Health Association of Nova Scotia (HANS) will be providing the group benefits plan, a not-for-profit non-government organization with over 60 years of service 
  • They serve over 30,000 active employees and 10,000 retirees and are one of the largest, longest-standing provider of group benefits administration services in Nova Scotia’s health system 

  • CAAT will be providing the defined benefit pension plan, a not-for-profit organization managed by a joint employee and employer board 
  • They offer pensions to 86,000+ members across Canada 
  • They are 124% funded as at January 1, 2023 for great benefit security  

  • ECEs and support staff employed by a provincially licensed and funded child care centre or family home child care agency 
  • Employees must be hired on either a permanent basis or a temporary basis for 12 months or more 
  • Employees must work at least 14 hours per week per their employment contract (40% of a regular work week) 
  • The entirety of the individual’s employment (all hours as part of the employment contract) must be dedicated to the delivery of child care at that organization (in or out of ratio) 
  • This includes Directors/Assistant directors, ECEs, untrained staff, cooks, inclusion supports, and administrators 

  • Individuals working in family homes are self-employed, therefore a different approach needs to be taken 
  • Licensed family home providers (classified ECEs and others) will be given grant funding to support RRSP contributions and sourcing their own health benefits 

We have met with unions and will reach out to unionized centres with additional information

All eligible employees must participate in the life insurance, long term disability insurance, and pension plans however employees may opt out of health and dental coverage if they are currently covered through their spouse (proof of coverage is required) 

  • Group benefits plans work best when all employees participate and therefore help spread risk and costs across the highest number of people 
  • Our goal is to ensure that all employees working in the sector can access the benefits they need, not just some
  • Through this work, all eligible employees will have access to comprehensive health, dental, life, disability and extended benefits to ensure their health and wellness needs are supported, and they are able to receive predictable payments throughout retirement 

  • All employees will have access to an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) beginning January 2024 
  • The sector will start enrolling in the group benefits and pension plans starting in May 2024 
  • Work will begin immediately after the announcement to provide employers and employees with information needed to understand the group benefits and pension plans 
  • With so many employers and employees enrolling in these plans, a phased enrollment will happen in four groups throughout 2024: 
    • May 1, 
    • July 1, 
    • October 1 and 
    • December 1 
  • All organizations will be enrolled by December 31, 2024 
  • Regardless of when an operator onboards, the Province will fund a one-time retroactive contribution for employees’ pensions back-dated to January 1, 2024 

  • Hundreds of organizations and thousands of employees will need to enrol in these new plans, so a phased approach is required 
  • Rushing the process can result in errors that impact group benefits coverage and pension contributions 

  • Enrollment groups will be based on factors like whether an organization already has a group benefits plan in place and the complexity to transition the organization. Phasing will give Operators time to transition from current benefits plans, if applicable, to new plans 
  • The Department and plan providers will work with employers to determine which phase makes most sense 
  • More details will be provided about this process in the coming weeks 

  • If an individual is already receiving coverage for a prescription drug through their current Employer Health Plan, they can provide proof of prior coverage at the time they transition to the new benefits plan
  • If the drug is on the HANS formulary, it will be covered without requiring a prior authorization process  
  • If it is not on the formulary, it will require a prior authorization process 
  • More details will be provided to individuals about this process 

  • All employees must pay 35% of the total cost for their group benefits costs (employer pays 65%) and 5% for their pension contribution (employer pays 5%) 
  • The specific amount deducted from each individual’s pay will be based on the type of coverage they determine (family versus individual coverage), and their rate of pay 

  • No. The Province is fully funding the employer contribution at 65% for the HANS group health benefits and 5% for the CAAT Defined Benefit Pension Plan 
  • The Province is also fully funding the HANS membership fee for all organizations, the cost of HANS’ extended benefits administration services, and the cost of the HANS payroll service for any organization that chooses to use it

  • Yes, these plans give ultimate flexibility to employees throughout their entire career in Nova Scotia’s provincially licensed and funded early learning sector 
  • Their plan access will remain the same as long as they continue to work in provincially licensed and funded early learning and child care centres or a family home agency in Nova Scotia that is participating in the group benefits and pension plans 

  • No, employees are not required to pay any membership fees 
  • Membership applies only to employers, not employees, and the Province will be fully funding employers for their membership fees 

  • According to surveys conducted by the Department, approximately 65% of centres currently have some form of benefits plan, but coverage varies greatly 
  • Only about 25% of the sector has some degree of retirement benefits, many of which are Group Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) 

  • If an organization offers services in addition to early learning and child care, it may have existing group benefits and pension plans in place and the removal of individuals delivering child care from these plans may present undue hardship to the rest of the plan 
  • In these circumstances they may be considered for an exemption, however the majority of organizations in Nova Scotia’s sector do not fall within this category. 
  • The Department will work individually with centres that offer services beyond child care to determine if an exemption applies 
  • Limited other individual centre specific exemptions may be applicable

What comes next?

  • The Department will be supporting operators and employees as they transition to their new plans over the next 12 months 
  • Centres, Agencies and employees will receive more information through virtual sector information calls and emails in the weeks ahead 
  • The full call schedule is available
  • Individual family home child care providers will receive more information from their Agency about next steps during a call on January 22, 2024

  • Our website will be updated regularly with recordings of our calls, FAQs and general information
  • You can also sign up for our newsletter for regular updates about this work, and much more

  • No. This information applies to provincially licensed and funded early learning and child care centres and family home child care agencies, outside of the school system 
  • Pre-primary staff receive the benefits of collective agreements negotiated with their employers, which are the Regional Centres for Education (RCE) and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP)

If you have questions about the pension or benefit program please let us know. Ask a question 

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