And the award goes to…

On Oct. 9, Benefits Canada—along with 160 guests—celebrated the finalists and announced the winners of the 2014 Workplace Benefits Awards at a gala evening at the Arcadian Court in Toronto. Here are the winners and the finalists. You’ll find more details in our Special Awards Issue, which will be published in December.

Winner: Rogers Communications
Finalists: Bell Canada; Humber River Hospital

Winners (tie): Electronic Arts Canada; Glencore
Finalist: TRW Canada Ltd.

Winner: Ubisoft
Finalists: Harry Rosen Inc.; Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan

Winner: Libro Credit Union
Finalists: Nalcor Energy; TRW Canada Ltd.

Winner: Niagara Casinos
Finalists: Rogers Communications; Sifton Properties Ltd.

< 1,000 employees Winner: London Hydro Finalists: Bruce Telecom; Learning Enrichment FoundationHEALTH/WELLNESS PROGRAM 1,000+ employees Winner: Niagara Casinos Finalists: American Express; Devon EnergyMENTAL HEALTH Winner: Bell Canada Finalists: Husky Energy; Niagara CasinosSTRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP Winner: Staples Canada & Morneau Shepell Finalists: Glencore & Mercer; Owens MacFadyen Group & Employee Wellness Solutions NetworkNow is the perfect time to think about nominations for next year! Email the editor and we’ll let you know when we open the 2015 call for nominations.

Market Watch

Desjardins Insurance has a new online simulator intended to help employees save on drug costs. Desjardins clients will be able to add the tool to their plan members’ websites. The simulator allows members to check if a prescription drug is covered and how much it will cost before buying it. The idea behind the tool is that if members know how much a drug will cost them, and how much they’d save by getting a generic equivalent, they’ll likely make more cost-effective choices.

Addenda Capital—in partnership with Rogge Global Partners, a fixed income firm based in the U.K.— recently launched a new global fixed income strategy. The strategy aims to offer tactical exposure to developed and emerging market bonds, both in the investment-grade and opportunistic spaces.

FTSE Group, the global index provider, and Research Affiliates LLC, an asset management firm, recently launched the FTSE RAFI Low Volatility Index Series. The new set of global benchmarks measures the performance of a basket of low-volatility stocks and uses fundamental factors, as opposed to market capitalization. Designed to provide a core-like equity exposure with lower volatility, the index series tries to
avoid expensive low-volatility stocks and to offer diversity across industry sectors and countries.

Legal Briefs

❱ The federal government has proposed the next round of amendments to the Pension Benefits Standards Regulations. One proposed change stipulates that DC plan sponsors will have to provide members with more details about the investment choices they need to make, including an extensive description of each investment option. Another change stipulates that DC plans would be able to provide variable benefits during the decumulation phase—meaning, pensioners would be able to withdraw variable amounts from their pension fund each year. Yet another change covers DB plans. DB administrators currently can’t invest or lend more than 10% of the book value of the plan’s assets in or to any one entity. The proposal calls for applying that rule to the market value instead.

❱ Federally registered pooled registered pension plans (PRPPs)— voluntary pension arrangements for employees and the self-employed intended to be lower cost—are now available in Canada. The five insurance companies with PRPP licences (Great-West Life, Industrial Alliance, Manulife, Standard Life and Sun Life Financial) recently registered with the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and the Canada Revenue Agency—the last necessary step before plan administrators could make federal PRPPs available to Canadians. PRPPs can function with or without a participating employer.

❱ Quebec is considering a bill that would overhaul its health and social services network. Under Bill 10, the number of administrative levels in the health network would be reduced—particularly the number of officers and boards of directors. The bill would combine Quebec’s 18 health and social services agencies and its 182 health institutions into just 28 institutions. The bill would also centralize certain powers related to the organization and governance of health institutions under the office of the Minister of Health and Social Services.

Sources: Norton Rose Fulbright; Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

Meet an advisory board member

Larry Ketchabaw, benefits manager, Unisource Canada Inc.

How did you get started in the pensions and benefits industry?
I started working right out of school for an oil company in their credit department, as a customer service representative. My eye was always on HR, and I felt the transition from taking care of external customers to taking care of internal customers (employees) was an easy one. Pension and benefits happened to be the first job in HR that recognized that connection, and I’ve never looked back.

Name one current pension trend that you think needs to be watched closely.
I feel strongly that pension plans offered to politicians and civil servants in this country are a ticking time bomb. As more and more average Canadians have their pension benefits clawed back, this disparity will only grow in significance until it becomes a major political issue in the not-too-distant future. New Brunswick had the courage to deal with it, but other jurisdictions seem to be hoping that it will go away. I don’t see that happening.

What are you most grateful for in your personal life?
My wife and I made a decision very early on that our family was going to be the most important thing to us. We found jobs that allowed us to stay close to home—perhaps at the expense of a more financially rewarding career, but definitely not at the expense of a rewarding family experience. We didn’t miss our daughters’ track meets, soccer games, concerts, plays or meet-the-teacher nights.


Defined Benefit Summit
Dec. 10, 2014 at The Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal/Dec. 11, 2014 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto

The theme for this year’s event is Brave New DB World. DB pension plans may have enjoyed strong gains recently, but given the long-term nature of these plans, sponsors still need to consider the future. At this exclusive forum, leading industry experts will discuss how DB plans can lock in their gains for the long term. They will also debate whether de-risking makes sense in the current environment and what new plan design or investment options have the potential to transform the Canadian pension landscape. The forum will include expert presentations and panel discussions with key stakeholders on their experiences with managing pension plans.

Face to Face: Drug Plan Management
Dec. 12, 2014 at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto

With the prevalence of chronic conditions and greater use of biologics, now more than ever, employers need to manage their drug spend effectively and understand the return on their investment. While new designs and distribution options may offer savings for drug plan sponsors, it’s also crucial to consider their impact on member needs. What should employers do to ensure their drug plans remain sustainable for future generations? This half-day event features presentations, case studies and interactive panel discussions, providing stakeholders with an opportunity to share common problems and solutions.

Find more information on this and other industry events at

The month in numbers

77% of Ontario small business owners believe managing the introduction of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan could be their biggest business challenge to date — Meridian’s 2014 Small Business Banking in Ontario Study

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