On April 30, the Ontario government released a draft regulation to amend Ontario Regulation 909—the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) General Regulation—and a consultation document seeking “constructive feedback” regarding yet-to-be-released regulations.

Both the draft regulation and the consultation document relate to amendments made to the PBA by Bill 236, the Pension Benefits Amendment Act, 2010; Bill 120, the Securing Pension Benefits Now and in the Future Act, 2010; and Bill 173, the Better Tomorrow for Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2011. Regulatory amendments are needed to implement many of the changes made by the amending statutes, which received royal assent on May 18, 2010, Dec. 8, 2010, and May 12, 2011, respectively.

Draft regulations
The draft regulations would make the following changes to Regulation 909:

Retired/former member
Bill 236 added the new definitions “retired member” and “former member” to the PBA. In general terms, a “retired member” is a person who is receiving, is immediately entitled to receive or has elected to receive a pension from a plan, whereas a “former member” is a person entitled to a deferred pension or other payment. The draft regulation makes changes necessary to give effect to these new definitions.

Immediate vesting/small pension unlocking
The draft regulation makes changes necessary to give effect to Bill 236 amendments that introduced immediate vesting and increased the threshold for cash settlement of small pensions from 2% of the year’s maximum pensionable earnings (YMPE) to 4% of the YMPE or 40% of the YMPE for a commuted value.

Surplus payment
Bill 120 amended the PBA to permit payment of windup surplus to employers where plan documents support the claim and to allow employers and members to share windup surplus where they do not. The draft regulations make changes to clarify disclosure rules related to surplus withdrawals and plan windups.

Individual pension plans
The 2011 federal budget introduced minimum-withdrawal requirements for individual pension plans (IPPs), as well as rules to require that past-service IPP contributions be funded from RRSP assets or applied to reduce accumulated RRSP room. The draft regulation introduces the new definition “individual pension plan” to Regulation 909. It also exempts IPPs from funding requirements inconsistent with federal tax rules and from the requirement to file a Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund (PBGF) assessment certificate.

Qualifying plans
From 1992 to 2002, the PBA permitted sponsors of “qualifying plans”—plans with at least $500 million in assets—to elect not to fund solvency deficiencies. The draft regulation revokes provisions in Regulation 909 that apply to qualifying plans.

Credited interest
The draft regulation introduces new provisions to clarify how interest is to be credited on member contributions and lump sums payable to terminated members.

Other
The draft regulation makes changes to disclosure requirements relating to windup, termination, death/survivor and retirement statements, as well as prescribed criteria for determining shortened life expectancy.

Consultation document
Effective July 1, 2012, amendments to Section 74 of the PBA will eliminate partial plan windups and require that grow-in benefits be provided to all employees on the occurrence of an “activating event,” which includes plan windup, involuntary termination without cause and events prescribed in regulation.

Grow-in benefits
The consultation document describes proposed “activating events” that would trigger grow-in benefits as well as circumstances in which a termination of employment would not be regarded as an “activating event.” Stakeholder feedback is requested for each. As proposed, an “activating event” would include a voluntary termination within 60 days of a member receiving notice of termination by the employer. Proposed circumstances that would not be regarded as an “activating event” include the following:

  • termination of an employee who was hired for a definite term or to complete a specific task;
  • termination of a “construction employee” as defined in regulations to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA, 2000); and
  • termination of an employee on a temporary layoff described in Subsection 56(2) of the ESA, 2000.

Noting that new PBA Section 74.1 will allow jointly sponsored pension plans and multi-employer pension plans to elect not to provide grow-in benefits, the consultation document proposes regulatory changes for making and rescinding such elections. An election to opt out of grow-in filed with the superintendent would be required to contain the effective date of the election and identification information for the plan or plan administrator. Rescinding an election would require the same information to be filed, in addition to the effective date of rescission. In either case, plan administrators would be required to give notice to members, trade unions and pension advisory councils, as applicable, and to certify to the superintendent that such notice has been given.

Superintendent-ordered windup
As amended by Bill 236, Section 68 of the PBA allows the superintendent to order a pension plan windup in a number of circumstances, some of which include employer bankruptcy, cessation of employer contributions, termination of all or substantially all members, where there is a risk of increased liability for the PBGF and prescribed circumstances. The consultation document proposes that Regulation 909 be amended to permit the superintendent to order a windup where a plan has no active members or where no benefits are accruing in a plan closed to new members.

Comment
It is expected that most changes proposed in the draft regulation and in the consultation document will come into effect on July 1, 2012; others come into effect when proclaimed by order of the lieutenant-governor. However, most changes proposed in the draft regulation and in the consultation document will come into effect on July 1, 2012. Comments regarding the proposed changes are due June 1, 2012. This means that the Ontario government will have a tight time frame to consider stakeholder comments and release final regulations.

While the consultation document suggests that superintendent-ordered windups may enhance benefit security, it is expected that the superintendent will need to balance benefit security with other considerations, such as the risk that funding obligations resulting from a windup could create liquidity challenges for a sponsoring employer or even trigger an insolvency.

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

Register today

For the latest industry news and opinion sign up for our daily e-newsletter.

See all comments Recent Comments

Lily Bertucci:

Hello. I have been awaiting the regulations and this situation to be dealt with. I am part of the Provinical employees downloaded to Municipality in 2002 under the MOPPS agreement. Not being abel to transfer my OPTRUST in OMERS has impacked my pension and my life greatly.
Can these please, please be dealt with very soon. There are alot of people out there with the same situation, awaiting the regulations to be completed. I understand 45 days after these regulations are posted the pensions involved must implement. Please contact me at the above email for any good news, I would love to retire after 40 years of service. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 15 at 12:54 pm | Reply

B. Bailey:

While Bill 236, the Pension Benefits Amendment Act, received Royal Assent a couple of years ago, it only allows for a one-way transfer of assets to the successor employer’s plan… and were employees to consolidate their service under the successor plan “OMERS” their eligibility for insured benefits under the original Provincial plan “OPTrust” would be discontinued. We trust you agree that it is neither fair or reasonable these employees / pension plan members, who were denied portability of their pensions through no fault of their own, be adversely affected for the rest of their lives.

Reforms to the Pension Benefits Act need to allow eligible employees to transfer / consolidate their existing pension benefits and ancillary benefits and other
non – pension post-retirement benefits that they currently have [associated with either or both the original and successor plans] to the one original OPS plan “OPTrust”. More specifically, Section 80.1 (4) and (9) of the Act needs to be updated to include authorizing eligible employees on the day this section comes into force to elect to transfer the value of their accrued pension benefits under the successor pension plan to the original pension plan.

Many affected employees with pensions split between the OPTrust and OMERS plans wish to consolidate their pensions in OPTrust and retire. They simply want fair pension treatment and to rightfully retire one day without unfair financial or post-retirement insurance coverage worries.

Monday, July 02 at 9:58 am | Reply

Chris:

Absolutely ! In fact, over the years numerous union employees working at the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation “MPAC” have previously and repeatedly written the government and various parties about their unfair and unjust split pension situation as a result of a past government divestiture and pension decisions not of their own making or choice. As they have always indicated, in any avenue of resolution for such perspective pensioners its obviously very important to ensure continuation of their existing entitlement to the post-retirement health and dental insured benefits associated through their past OPS service and credit in the OPTrust Plan.

While Bill 236, the Pension Benefits Amendment Act, 2010, received Royal Assent in May 2010, it only allows for a one-way transfer of assets to the successor employer’s plan… and were divested employees to consolidate their service under the successor employer’s plan “OMERS” their eligibility for insured benefits under the original Provincial plan “OPTrust” would be discontinued. The Province has advised MPAC on previous occasions that they would not extend the insured benefits to retirees who no longer meet the eligibility criteria. In fact, four years ago in June of 2008 the Minister of Government and Consumer Services had written the Chair of MPAC’s Board of Directors about just such a pension transfer scenario, advising in part “If divested MPAC employees withdraw or transfer their OPS pension assets and thereby terminate OPS pension entitlement status, they will forfeit access to future post-retirement insurance coverage.”

The ultimate test of the regulatory system governing pension plans is how well it works in practice. With respect, under the circumstances it seems to me this only pension transfer option inherently comes with what amounts to an illogical, unfair and hefty penalty being imposed on such workers/perspective pensioners… the forfeiture of their existing entitlement to postretirement
health and dental insured benefits associated through their previous OPS employment and credit in the original plan “OPTrust” ! As such, this is not a viable option for most and, in fact, I wonder if the Superintendent would even actually consent to such a transfer knowing individuals might be so directly or indirectly detrimentally impacted.

Saturday, September 29 at 8:17 am | Reply

Helen:

Yes, the affected stakeholders in this very important longstanding pension issue placing many employees working at MPAC at a financial disadvantage are: the employees at MPAC who transferred from the Ministry of Finance at divestment (December 30, 1998); the Administrators of the OPSEU Pension Trust “OPTrust”; and, the Administrators of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System “OMERS”. The adversely impacted individuals (the “Affected Employees”) are the union employees whose pensions are split between the OPTrust and OMERS plans, and they have for years been seeking a merging/consolidation of their pensions under one plan and which must ensure the retention of their existing entitlement to the postretirement insured lifetime health care benefits.

Saturday, October 27 at 4:36 pm

Ron Jamieson:

I am confused. Is there one set of rules for public servants and another set for the private sector?

Wednesday, February 27 at 5:12 pm | Reply

Karen Harris:

I have been waiting too retire and have been watching intently since the third reading passed in May 2010.With St joe’s CMHS ( the old Physchiatric hospital divested from Ontario govt (OPSEU) 2000. If I leave now at age 56 st joes’s says ill get approx 78% pension with them and OPSEU will penalize me 5% for every year up to the age of 65 rather than my 90 factor which is when Im 58.Aftwer 30 years of service Nov 1983 start date it leaves me very little of my pension!!! Not to mention losing my benefits if I do get to be part of this pension transfer once regulated. The language is hard to understand and OPSEu has said very little.I had a friend ask questions for me at a retirement seminar a year ago and the representatives did not know anything about Bill 236 which was extremely upsetting to me. I am not well and need to retire but can’t afford to go with the mess my pensions are in.I would appreciate knowing if I am one of the ones who will be able to bring my pension over to Hoop. My best five years way back to 2000 is not too appealing especially after they strip me of 50 5 of my pension and take my benefis away.Wow! Welcome to 2013! Anything anyone can inform me i would be so greatful.What is happening? Sincerely karen harris

Wednesday, April 03 at 4:14 am | Reply

Karen Harris:

It is now June 1, 2013. This is about 45 days since stakeholders could make their last comments. Does this mean we will be having some information forthcoming? The bill after all was passed May 2010. Thank you. I would appreciate some input.

Saturday, June 01 at 12:50 am | Reply

Karen Harris:

it is now almost August and I still remain uncertain of my future pension. i need to retire after 30 years and losing so much pension. could anyone tell me if past Hamilton Physchiatric employees divested in 2000, successor employer St. Joe’s hamilton Ontario (HOOP), if we in fact qualify for this reform. I am passionate about retiring and mentally tired. I would appreciate any input out there. Thank you. Karen Harris mk-harris @ cogeco.ca

Friday, July 26 at 11:46 pm

CS:

I suggest you contact HOOPP to find out: 416-646-6445 or 1-877-434-6677.

Monday, July 29 at 4:57 pm

Add a comment

Have your say on this topic! Comments that are thought to be disrespectful or offensive may be removed by our Benefits Canada admins. Thanks!

* These fields are required.
Field required
Field required
Field required

*