At long last, many of the recommendations of the Joint Expert Panel on Pension Standards (JEPPS) included in its November 2008 final report entitled Getting Our Acts Together will see the light of day in British Columbia.

By Order in Council No. 219, dated May 11, 2015, the B.C. government adopted the new Pension Benefit Standards Regulation to be effective Sept. 30, 2015. The order also brings into force on that same date the (2012) Pension Benefits Standards Act (Bill 38) and the Pension Benefits Standards Amendment Act (the 2014 housekeeping amendments).

The JEPPS report made recommendations for fundamental reform to B.C. and Alberta pension legislation. Bill 38, which implemented many of the recommended reforms, was passed on May 31, 2012, but the corresponding regulations had been agonizingly slow in coming.

Read: B.C./Alberta Pension Report Lauded

By contrast, Alberta’s Bill 10, which replaced that province’s Employment Pension Plans Act in its entirety, was introduced in fall 2012 and came into force Sept. 1, 2014, along with the corresponding regulation. An Alberta government press release described Bill 10 as including “[h]armonized pension rules between Alberta and British Columbia, making it easier for pension plans to both start up and operate effectively for their members.”

Unfortunately there was no public and industry consultation prior to the release of the new B.C. pension regulation, so it’s difficult to state at this stage to what extent the Alberta and B.C. regulations are harmonized.

However, there is an understanding in place between Alberta and B.C. which calls for pension acts, regulations and administrative practices to be harmonized. The two governments are said to be aiming for co-development of pension bulletins, guidelines, and interpretations while legislative amendments are supposed to be jointly discussed in advance.

The adoption of the new B.C. pension regulation, the bringing into force of the “harmonized” B.C. pension legislation, and the pledge of B.C. and Alberta to work together to keep their acts, regulations and administrative practices harmonized, brings us a step closer to the day when all Canadian jurisdictions “get their acts together.”

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Claude Marchessault is an educator, lawyer and the executive director of the British Columbia Teachers’, College and Public Service pension plans. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the pension plans or Benefits Canada.
Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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