GM Canada pension plan reaches fully funded status

One of General Motors of Canada Co.’s defined benefit pension plans is fully funded on a going-concern basis.

The pension plan for hourly workers posted about $9.3 billion in assets as of its last official financial release in December 2017, according to the Globe and Mail, which received the information from an anonymous source. The assets represent a 101 per cent funded status.

In its most recent filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company reported cash injections made into several global pension plans. “We expect to contribute approximately $1.6 billion to our non-U.S. pension plans in 2018, inclusive of $584 million in contributions to pre-fund U.K. and Canada pension plans in the three months ended September 30, 2018, and approximately $300 million in payments of pension obligations for separated employees in Korea,” the report said.

Read: GM to retrain employees affected by Oshawa plant closure

GM Canada pensions are strong and funded through our ongoing Canadian sales operations,” said a spokesperson from the company in an email to Benefits Canada. ”In 2009, we strengthened our pension funding with a $4-billion payment and we continue to meet all Ontario requirements for solvency funding.” 

But the pension plan’s status isn’t especially comforting to the employees facing changes with the closure of GM’s Oshawa, Ont. assembly plant. “That is, of course, on a going-concern basis and not on a solvency or windup basis, and is only as at Dec. 31, 2017, so probably not that comforting or reassuring for the active plan members at the Oshawa site or the GM Canadian hourly retirees more generally,” said Corey Vermey, director of pensions and benefits at Unifor, in an email to Benefits Canada. 

He noted the GM Canada plan for hourly employees isn’t that different from other defined benefit plans that have moved to fully funded statuses in recent months. “But remember that the median going-concern funded ratio improved for all plans registered in Ontario with FSCO for the fifth consecutive year to reach 111 per cent as at Dec. 31, 2017, so the GM plan is notably below that median level.”

Read: FSCO opens consultation on updated pension surplus policies