Nova Scotia Pension Services Corp. finished 2019 with almost $12 billion in assets under management and reported sharply diverging year-end results for the two pension plans it manages.
The Nova Scotia Teachers’ Pension Plan, which ended its fiscal year on Dec. 31, 2019, had a 12.36 per cent net return, as reported in late April. The TPP lowered its discount rate from 6.05 per cent in 2018 to 5.7 per cent in 2019, but posted an increase in its funded status to 78.2 per cent from 75.3 per cent in 2018.
However, the Public Service Superannuation Plan ended its year on March 31, 2020, absorbing the full onset of the coronavirus-related market volatility and reported an “essentially flat” negative 0.19 per cent net return. It also decreased its discount rate from six per cent in 2018 to 5.5 per cent in 2019, which increased its actuarial liabilities. The PSSP reported a drop in its funded status, to 91.4 per cent, down from 101.9 per cent in 2018.
The PSSP also introduced a five-year halt to cost-of-living adjustments for retirees based on its Dec. 31, 2019 funded status of 98.5 per cent.
“The last months of fiscal 2019-2020 witnessed truly unprecedented volatility, as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe and economies were plunged into paralysis,” said John Carter and Keiren Tompkins, the board co-chairs of the NSPSC, in a press release. “The full onset of the pandemic in March of 2020 impacted the plans quite differently given their different year-ends.”
While the co-chairs noted both plans face mounting demographic challenges, membership numbers have held steady. The PSSP reported a 1,933 increase in its membership to 38,535 as of March 31, while the TPP reported membership of 32,647 as of Dec. 31, 2019, up 304 new members.