Market Watch

EQUITABLE LIFE OF CANADA and REXALL have started a pilot program to mitigate the impact of high-cost specialty drugs for plan sponsors. The Partners in Savings program provides preferred pricing of eligible prescription drugs at Rexall pharmacies and lower dispensing fees. The program is initially available to employers in Ontario and will eventually be expanded.;

T. ROWE PRICE has launched two pooled vehicles for Canadian institutional investors. The pooled vehicles are based on the company’s global growth equity and international core equity strategies. These strategies were previously available only to institutional investors with individual accounts— arrangements that require a large initial investment and allow an investor to have a highly customized portfolio. The new vehicles have a minimum account size of $5 million and are available to both DB and DC plans.

AON HEWITTrecently released its fourth guide to target benefit plans (TBPs). Aimed at entities planning to start a TBP or change their existing pension plan to a TBP, this guide focuses on the role of investment policy in these uniquely structured plans, such as risks, performance objectives and asset/liability modelling. The first three guides focus on explaining how TBPs work. The new guide is available at

Meet an Advisory Board Member

Colin Ripsman,
principal, Eckler Ltd.

How did you end up in the pension industry?

Pensions were not in the plan or even on my radar. After graduating from law school and articling at a downtown Toronto law firm, I was looking for an in-house counsel role and was offered one at an actuarial consulting firm. After I started with the firm, I was drawn to the pension and investment aspects of the work. I enrolled in a part-time MBA program and transitioned first to the pension practice and, later, to the investment practice.

What is one solution to Canada’s low retirement savings rate?

For years, the industry has struggled with educating Canadians on the importance of saving, retirement savings targets and investment basics. Despite considerable efforts, this work has been less than successful. Employees remain chronic undersavers and seem bound by the shackles of inertia. The best way is to introduce smarter DC plans, including features such as mandatory participation, automatic contribution escalation and target-date funds as default choices.

What’s your favourite sport?

I like playing squash and Ping-Pong. I enjoy my racquet sports indoors and in confined spaces! In the summer, I enjoy the occasional golf game.


> Alberta recently changed its Employment Pension Plans Regulation to establish a new moratorium on solvency funding for collectively bargained multi-employer plans. The updated regulation also extends certain deadlines applicable to all pension plans—specifically, deadlines for changing plan texts so they comply with the province’s new Employment Pension Plans Act.

> The Supreme Court of British Columbia recently ruled in Kim v. International Triathlon Union (ITU)—Canada’s first court decision about firing a non-union employee for social media misuse. ITU fired Paula Kim in late 2012 because a couple of months earlier, she had posted unprofessional comments about her job on her personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as her blog. The court rejected ITU’s argument that it had just cause to fire Kim, noting ITU never reprimanded her about her inappropriate social media behaviour. Instead, she received a salary raise after making the posts and was simply told during her termination meeting that her communication style clashed with ITU’s. The plaintiff employee was awarded damages equivalent to five months’ notice of termination. The decision suggests courts will apply traditional employment law principles to cases that involving non-union employees’ misuse of social media.

Sources: Government of Alberta; Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Health Byte

Did you know?
Researchers now know why almonds have a positive impact on the heart. A recent study by a U.K. university shows having 50 grams of almonds daily for four weeks can boost a form of vitamin E in the blood and make blood vessels expand more easily, lowering blood pressure. This can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. So if you have an on-site work cafeteria, include almonds and other nuts in its menu. And consider serving nuts and fruit in lieu of chips and other unhealthy snacks during meetings.

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