How are Canadian pension plans responding to coronavirus?

Across the country, public pension plans are releasing statements to assure members that their defined benefit pensions are secure and that they’re taking measures to protect the health and safety of their own staff.

The Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology pension plan said it regularly tests operations and will continue to make pension payments. “We are well prepared and feel confident your pensions will be paid on time,” it wrote in a statement. “Although our response times to calls and emails may be slower, we will continue to work diligently on providing our high standard of service to our members and employers.”

The CAAT plan is also assuring members that their pension incomes are safe. “The stable, predictable lifetime pension income that CAAT delivers is a key benefit of a defined benefit pension plan. The plan has been steadily building reserves over the past decade consistent with our primary focus on benefit security.”

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Further, the OPSEU Pension Trust has announced measures to protect its members and employees. Particularly, it’s postponing its March and April pension information sessions and closing its office to visitors until further notice.

To help members, the plan is promoting digital alternatives, such as webinars. “Although you cannot attend a live presentation currently, we regularly run interactive webinars which you can watch from the comfort of your home or a previously recorded webinar,” the plan said in a statement.

The OPTrust is also encouraging members to switch to direct deposit. “Paying pensions is one of our core priorities and therefore we continuously plan, prepare and test to ensure that we are prepared to pay pensions under situations outside of normal business operations,” it said. “If you receive your pension payment by cheque, we advise that you switch to direct deposit as a convenient and safe way to receive your pension.”

The plan is also letting members know that, should it be required to close its office, the team is equipped to work remotely. “OPTrust conducts regular tests to ensure we have sound plans in place to ensure that we can continue to serve our members in the event of an office shut down for a prolonged period.”

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The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is also asking plan members not to attend the office in person and will process payments online and through its call centre. As well, the plan is changing its annual meeting from an in-person meeting to a digital format.

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Quebec is also introducing measures to protect its employees. Namely, all of its employees are working from home with the exception of a few critical business functions, it has banned its employees from participating in public events and banned all business travel regardless of destination.

The Ontario Teachers’ has announced similar measures for its employees. Most employees, with the exception of a small group will be working at home, international travel must be rescheduled and domestic business travel must be pre-cleared and approved.

Similarly, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board has implemented a restricted travel list and is pre-clearing all business travel. It’s also implementing protocols to pre-clear visitors prior to visiting any of the PSP’s offices.

Read: Employers moving to remote work to help ‘flatten the coronavirus curve’


And the plan is encouraging employees to work remotely, but offices will remain open to those who can’t do their jobs remotely.

“These measures will allow us to maintain the social distancing necessary to protect each other and our local communities while continuing to conduct business,” it said in a statement.