FSRA responds to questions on filing deadlines, pension transactions

Acknowledging the rapidly evolving circumstances around the coronavirus, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario is considering approaches to help defined benefit pension plan sponsors in their ongoing administration and compliance efforts.

In a note published on its website, the FRSA said its reviewing its work, stakeholder engagement activities and other commitments to prioritize activities. In addition, it shared its responses to several questions that may be top of mind for plan sponsors and their members.

In terms of upcoming regulatory filings, audited financial statements and valuation reports, the FSRA said it understands that pension plan administrators and their agents will likely face challenges in meeting these deadlines. Plan administrators and their authorized agents that are registered on the FSRA’s pension services portal may submit filing extension requests of up to 60 days via the portal, it noted. For extension requests beyond 60 days, the FSRA asked plan administrators to submit their requests by email or regular mail to their assigned pension officer.

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It also acknowledge that plan administrators may be unable to provide member disclosure information within the prescribed timelines of the Pension Benefits Act — for example, annual and biennial pension benefit statements, termination statements and retirement statements.

Where a plan administrator or their agents are facing challenges in complying with these prescribed timelines, the FSRA said to let their assigned pension officer know via email as soon as possible. “While FSRA does not have discretionary powers to extend the prescribed timelines as they relate to member disclosures, effective immediately, provided you have advised us of the challenges you are experiencing and your proposed plan of action, summary administrative monetary penalties will not be levied with respect to non-compliance in this area until further notice,” it said.

In addition, the FSRA noted that all pending transactions filed, such as pension asset transfers or windup applications, will continue to be reviewed by its staff, although current disruptions will likely cause some delay. Again, it advised that any questions regarding pension plans or pension benefits should be sent to the assigned pension officer or by visiting the pension plan information access page or submitted via email at PensionInquiries@fsrao.ca.

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For Ontario plan administrators whose defined benefit plan’s transfer ratio has deteriorated by 10 per cent of more, the FSRA said the administrator won’t transfer any part of the commuted value of a pension, deferred pension or ancillary benefit to which a member or former member is entitled without obtaining its approval first.

It advised plan administrators to use Form 10 to seek approval and, where possible, to submit the form electronically to their pension officer.