Jim Gosger qualified for the Quebec Pension Plan 17 years ago, but he wasn’t aware of this stipend until just recently.
He learned he can collect a rather modest sum of about $150 Canadian per month because he played for the Expos in 1970 and ’71 during a 10-year Major League Baseball career.
Gosger, 77, and several hundred former Expos born outside Canada qualify for a little-known stipulation in the QPP fund. Some of these players are aware of their eligibility, but Gosger and Mike Vail, who played for Nos Amours in 1983, weren’t familiar with it.
The bonus pension is one reward for the Expos players because they were taxed so heavily when they played in Montreal. In essence, they are getting back some of the money they paid out.
The QPP not only affects former Expos, but also former Canadiens, Alouettes and other pro athletes who played in Quebec but live abroad. Former Canadiens defence stalwart Chris Chelios, who was born in Chicago, would also qualify for the QPP when he turns 60 in 2022.
Quebec is the only province in Canada that boasts its own pension plan, which is administered by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. Taxpayers in other provinces have their pensions rolled into the Canada Pension Plan.
“The people with the pension plan have sent me a letter and I had some forms to fill out,” Gosger said in an interview from his home in Port Huron, Mich. “Mike Vail told me I had a chance at a pension so I made contact.
“I asked the lady how long I could get the pension for and she said the rest of my life. They want some additional information so I am waiting to hear back from them. They want to get everything squared away before Oct. 30.”
Unfortunately, Gosger will only receive retroactive pay one year back to age 76, a QPP clerk told the Montreal Gazette.
Jerry White, who had two stints with the Expos during the 1970s and 1980s, said he has knowledge of the QPP and is trying to get his paperwork done, but said he has lost his social security number.
“Guys like Ellis Valentine and Terry Humphrey told me they are on the plan,” White said.
Other Expos legends such as Steve Rogers, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Tim Wallach all qualify for the pension because they are 60 or older. All four spent more than 10 years paying into the QPP, with Rogers and Wallach at 12-plus years.
Rogers, who is a special assistant in the player benefits department with the MLB Players Association, did not respond to several requests for comment.
Dawson said he’s trying to get the paperwork started so he can start getting cheques. At this point, there is no way of knowing what players like Rogers, Dawson, Raines and Wallach would be paid per month, although it would be much higher than what Gosger will receive.
Sam Staub, a sister-in-law of the late Expos star Rusty Staub, said she didn’t know about the QPP benefit, but has asked her husband Chuck, Rusty’s brother, to get in touch with QPP officials.
Similarly, Sandi Carter-Snell, widow of the late Gary Carter, qualifies for a survivor spouse’s pension.
Chris Speier, who played for the Expos from 1977 to ’84, said he is receiving the pension, but declined to reveal his monthly stipend.
Jim Beattie, the Expos’ general manager from 1995-2001, said he didn’t know the fund existed, but said he might look into it.
“Goodness knows they taxed us enough,” Beattie said in a text message. “Maybe (I will) donate it back to the Bring Back the Expos Fund.”
QPP spokesman Frédéric Lizotte said U.S. benefit holders can be paid the Canadian equivalent in U.S. funds.
“Professional athletes who meet the criteria may be eligible,” Lizotte said, in confirming the benefits for former Expos. “Workers can receive a retirement pension as of age 60, provided they contributed for at least one year. They do not need to have stopped working. The age at which the contributor begins receiving a retirement pension will determine the amount of the pension for as long as it is paid.”