Reflections on three years of change in the pension and benefits industry—and at Benefits Canada.

“Like it or not, we live in interesting times.” These words, spoken by Robert F. Kennedy back in 1966, are certainly true of the pension and benefits industry. Little did I know how true when I took the helm of Benefits Canada back in the spring of 2005.

At the time, then Finance Minister Ralph Goodale had just surprised the investment world by announcing the removal of the Foreign Property Rule. A few short months later came the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Chaoulli case, which opened the doors to private healthcare in Canada.

Things haven’t slowed down since then. The last three years have brought a rash of major developments on the pension and benefits landscape, including the end of mandatory retirement in most provinces, the implementation of new drug legislation, a string of court decisions on the use of pension surplus in the ongoing Kerry case, and the credit crisis. We also saw a new government take power in Ottawa and introduce some changes of its own, including a tax on income trusts, phased retirement provisions, solvency relief for defined benefit pension funds and, most recently, the tax-free savings account.

More change is likely to come when the expert pension commissions launched in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, and Nova Scotia provide their recommendations later this year.

Change is also coming to Benefits Canada. This is my last column as editor of the magazine as I step into a new role here at Rogers as publisher and editor-in-chief of Canadian Insurance, the country’s oldest and best-established magazine in the property and casualty insurance market. But I’m leaving things in very good hands.

Executive publisher Garth Thomas has an experienced and dedicated editorial team in place led by our managing editor, Alyssa Hodder. They will continue to provide the high-quality, relevant and timely content you’ve come to expect in these pages, online and in our conferences.

I’ve certainly enjoyed my time here at Benefits Canada. Helping plan sponsors make sense of all the changes affecting their pension and benefits plans has been very rewarding. Even more gratifying has been meeting and working with so many talented, intelligent and passionate people in the pension and benefits community. Thanks for the opportunity.

Don Bisch is the editor of BENEFITS CANADA.

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© Copyright 2008 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the August 2008 edition of BENEFITS CANADA magazine.