Employee groups from Ontario universities vote to form new joint pension

Faculty associations at three Ontario universities, as well as certain affiliated unions, have passed a preliminary vote to convert their various existing pension arrangements into a jointly sponsored pension plan.

The University of Toronto Faculty Association, the University of Guelph Faculty Association, Queen’s University Faculty Association, United Steelworkers Local 1998, United Steelworkers Local 4120 and United Steelworkers Local 2010 all voted overwhelmingly in favour of forming the new University Pension Plan. The parties have been negotiating over more than two years as to how to move forward with the project, according to a release.

Read: Several Ontario universities looking to form new JSPP

The aim of the new plan is to achieve a resilient defined benefit pension. The employee groups will have joint governance over the plan, which was another longstanding goal of the project, the release noted. Further, the model, as it stands, holds each university accountable for its own current debt within each existing plan. 

Alex McKinnon, research department leader for the United Steelworkers and UPP founding co-chair, noted the ongoing negotiations have been successful in forming a pension model that achieves those criteria. ”It shows what can be achieved when bargaining agents representing different groups of employees work together and innovate for the common good for our member’s retirement security,” he said.

The six employee groups are now launching an education campaign for their members to bring them up to speed on the project. Other employee groups from the three universities have yet to vote on the new pension, as well as retired members of the various plans who must vote in the spring, according to provincial legislation.

“The entire process has been collaborative, with each stakeholder group committed to a fair outcome and a sustainable defined benefit pension future for university employees,” said Cynthia Messenger, president of the University of Toronto Faculty Association and UPP founding co-chair.

Read: Federal employee pensions should move to shared-risk model: Ambachtsheer and Leech