The Ontario government spent up to $70 million on developing the now-abandoned Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, according to new figures released by the province.

The costs include $25 million spent by the government itself between 2013 and 2016 in several areas: procurement for services such as legal and actuarial support ($7 million); advertising and market research ($8 million); and compensation ($9.5 million).

The ORPP Administration Corp. set up to develop the framework for the pension plan spent about $30 million. That amount includes: procurement ($23 million); compensation for 48 employees, with salaries, benefits, severance and damages adding up to $6.3 million. The government has also set aside a $15-million contingency to conclude the administration corporation’s operations. Below is a more detailed breakdown of the costs included in a closing report on the administration corporation released on Thursday:

July_28_2016 financial Analysis Operating Expenses

Read: Ottawa, Ontario review costs from CPP expansion

According to Clancy Zeifman, a spokesperson for Indira Naidoo-Harris, the minister appointed this spring to handle the ORPP, a team of four transition staff remains on the job to wind up the administration corporation, with some staying until Aug. 12. “All other ORPP [administration corporation] employees have been terminated in accordance with their individual employment contracts,” he said, noting staff at the administration corporation weren’t government employees and thus wouldn’t have transferred to other jobs with the province. Those staff members seconded from other jobs with the government will return to their original positions and won’t get severance, he added.

As for Naidoo-Harris, she remains in a job Premier Kathleen Wynne appointed her to just before June’s agreement to expand the Canada Pension Plan led the government to abandon the ORPP. “Minister Naidoo-Harris continues to be a strong voice at the cabinet table, through the transition to the CPP and into the future,” said Zeifman.

“She remains focused on the final steps in winding up the ORPP, and working closely with [Finance] Minister [Charles] Sousa on next steps regarding CPP enhancement.”

Read: New minister appointed to oversee ORPP

According to the closing report, the organization had contracts for 22 third-party service provider agreements. The corporation’s obligations include a building lease for space at 2 Queen St. E. in Toronto at a cost of $12.1 million over five years. According to the closing report, the government is considering transferring the lease to the province’s realty portfolio “for previously identified and required accommodation needs.”

The administration corporation had also been in the process of outsourcing pension administration services under a 10-year contract but had yet to select a provider, according to the closing report. The report lists $21.4 million in contracts entered into by the administration corporation. The contracts including a provision allowing it to terminate the agreement on short notice of 30 days in most cases.

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The closing report also lists compensation and salary information for board members and top officials involved in the ORPP. The amounts include $70,000 for Susan Wolburgh Jenah, chair of the board the administration corporation and $35,000 each for fellow board members Murray Gold and Richard Nesbitt. As for the executives, total compensation was:

$302,925 for chief executive officer Saad Rafi;

$140,938 for chief financial officer Mary Anne Palangio;

$110,019 for senior vice-president of plan operations Jennifer Brown;

$89,050 for chief technology officer Brian Gill;

$56,418 for general counsel Anne Slivinskas; and

$81,846 for senior vice-president of communications, marketing and public affairs Neala Barton.

Read: Ontario passes ORPP bill

The administration corporation has booked about $2 million in severance payments for the six executives, as well as almost $1.7 million for the remaining staff. The seven staff retained as the transition team have end dates ranging from July 19, 2016, for Rafi to Aug. 12, 2016, for Slivinskas and Palangio.

Most of the ORPP executives joined the organization in March or April, and one in June, but they will each get about $335,000 each in severance, The Canadian Press reported.

The opposition NDP and Progressive Conservative parties both criticized the spending. NDP finance critic Catherine Fife says while the province “dodged a bullet” with the CPP deal, the ORPP costs are excessive. But were the costs worth it in light of the CPP enhancement? Fife says while Wynne had at one point acknowledged the chances of getting a CPP deal were fair, the government still went ahead with hiring executives in the spring without putting in provisions to protect against the severance payouts. In addition, Fife says she has long had a concern about the government’s spending on advertising the ORPP.

Read: ORPP ads reflect misplaced priorities

Fife adds there are also questions about Naidoo-Harris’ continuing role in cabinet. “I think it just points to the fact that we have a premier that’s making it up as she goes along,” says Fife.

“They clearly are going to have to come up with something for Indira to do other than hand out severance packages.”

In establishing the ORPP administration corporation, the government had allocated loans to fund its startup costs. So far, it had advanced $31 million of the loan, with the amounts set to reach $240 million for the 2016-17 fiscal year and $140 million in 2017-18. The government is now assuming all costs associated with the administration corporation, according to Zeifman.

Editor’s note: Story updated July 29 with comments from Fife and Zeifman.

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com
See all comments Recent Comments

Ron Price:

It looks like the only saving grace here is that this monster was killed before it got too big to kill.

Thursday, July 28 at 6:44 pm | Reply

Chas:

$22 million on consulting, “branding” and related fees for what should have been a $5-10 million start up. Quite breathtaking in its profligacy, and it certainly tells a tale of collisional bid rigging.

The ORPP was not the all that complex, not from the funding standpoint, not from the admin. standpoint, not from the actuarial standpoint, not from the investment management standpoint.

If the ORPP were a Snickers Bar, this government would nonetheless have spent millions asking nudge-wink proponents to submit bids for the creation of a new one, at great-deficit financed-cost.

I am starting to understand the rage-fueled propulsion behind the Donald trump’s of the world.

Friday, July 29 at 2:28 pm | Reply

JayC:

That rage of those who despise government and big business excess is driven by the fear that those horrendous losses of asset values can and will occur again. We, individuals and business, are aware that the govt learned nothing from the last financial debacle, have no trust in and fear a system that carries on as if nothing changed. We are extremely concerned that what little we have left, will be usurped and wasted by these same idiots who govern us, or sell us essential goods and services. Trumpism, Brexit, rage, whatever you call it, at the least allays the fear, gives us hope of no more, of protection from those knowns and unknowns that plague us such as new colours and cultures brought by immigration, terrorism, and financial terrorism of institutions such as Drug companies, financial services and Government.
More of the same old leaves us in terror as it reminds us so much of how bad the system is and can get worse in a heartbeat.

Saturday, July 30 at 3:29 pm | Reply

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